"b1bob's Excellent Rio de Janeiro adventures" Rio de Janeiro by b1bob
Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: 3,628 reviews and 6,543 photos
I visited Brazil twice in December, 2001. The first time was before Christmas and the second time was before and on the New Year.
For 2001, I intended only to visit Argentina. One afternoon in July, my Brazilian friend Alexandre told me, "You have been sending me postcards for the previous 16 years from just about everywhere but Brazil. Argentina is close, visit me too." I told him I would try to think of a way to squeeze them both in. I previously promised my Argentine friend Alejandro (Alex) that I would be there with him on his 25th birthday on 22 December 2001. If I could do that and see Alexandre without it costing too much money, I was open to that suggestion. Alexandre and I put our heads together and found a way it could be done. I would take care of planning my trip from some point nearby (I thought at that time it would be Richmond or Washington). Alexandre said he would find me a price- cheaper than I could find in the USA- on flights from Rio and Buenos Aires and back and I would pay him back when I got there. So, I got my tickets on 13 August 2001.
From 13 August 2001 until 19 December 2001, when I first set foot on Brazilian soil, it was in interesting interval.
1. It turned out that it would be cheaper to go from Raleigh, NC to Miami to Rio de Janeiro (the nearest international airport to Petrópolis). The day after I bought my ticket including Midway Air from Raleigh to Miami, Midway Air declared chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 meant trouble, but not the end for the company. However, it was disconcerting to see an airline you were fixing to take have serious financial problems. So, my travel agent Connie thought it wise to switch tickets for my Miami-Raleigh (and back) flight. Not wanting any unpleasant surprises, I switched to American on Friday, 17 August.
2. The disasters on 11 September occurred. Besides the obvious human loss, the aviation industry was in turmoil after 2 days of closure to all U.S. air space. My boss, who was with me on 11 September (we were on a business trip together) asked me "I bet you're going to cancel you trip to South America, aren't you?" That thought never once crossed my mind, but I wasn't sure if American would be in business on 18 December. I was more concerned that the terrorists might try something else during the Christmas season. So, I began to formulate alternative plans such as going by land to Mexico City and taking the Varig plane to Rio from there.
3. I had to get a tourist visa. For some reason, either we slighted Brazil or Brazil slighted us and started a visa war. I got conflicting information on when to get my visa. I had to go in person to Washington, DC to turn in my passport and spend the night because there was a 24-hour turnaround. It was inconvenient, but I managed it see my second Washington, DC travelogue for more details.
Then there was that American Airlines crash over New York in early November 2001, security breaches that closed down several airports (that could really be a problem at both Raleigh and Miami), and weather worries. It can get cold in mid-December. Many of my friends and neighbours begged me not to go, but I would hear nothing of the well-intended entreaties. Ironically, I almost had to spend the whole holiday in Petropolis, missing Buenos Aires altogether because Swissair stopped serving South America with no warning. Alexandre and I had to scramble to get that taken care of, although he said he would have been glad to have me there the whole time instead of 19-22 December; 30 December- 2 January.
The trip down there went basically as planned. First thing on meeting with my friend Alexandre, we took a drive through the city. We passed through and briefly stopped at the world-famous Copacabana and Ipanema districts. Just before I returned to Virginia, we toured the Christ Statue on the Corcovada and went to Barra Tijuca.
Brazilian culinary traditions are wide-ranging and diverse as those of the United States, a country of similar land... more travel advice
Because the events of December, 2001 forced me to put Buenos Aires in the middle of the itinerary, I flew out of Rio de... more travel advice
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