A visual summary of 2016 (sound on)
“Open all the doors and let you out into the world
Turn the lights up over every boy and every girl.
One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer.
You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”
It’s amazing how fast two weeks can go by.
We woke up Sunday morning and ate whatever was still in our fridge for breakfast. Thinking it was a good time for a second go at faceTime, we called the girls. Even though we were coming home in a few days Kaili still took it hard and it was a sad moment.
To shake the sadness, I packed up the essentials and headed down to the pool, Shane soon followed.
After a few hours of relaxation and a slightly darker tan we slipped into the bar for lunch. Since it was Sunday most of the restaurants offered the national dish of Brazil, Feijoada on their menu. Shane wasn’t being a team player, he got the host to put on American football and ordered a hamburger…side eye… but he promised to help me a little with my order, since it’s meant to be shared. I jumped in head first to my delicious lunch and it was probably the best meal I had. Although, my mom can give them a run for their money.
After lunch we met Cathy and Patti at their place, not far up the road for a car to drive us to Maracana stadium. Apparently the drive to opening ceremonies was a long haul due to traffic and closed roads, this time the driver to precautions and we went through the mountains and Favelas to get there, it worked out great. We had time for a snack and then we made our way to the stadium.
This was a sight to see and a pretty special place for me to walk into. The turnout of people was pretty spectacular.
The athletes came in and took their spots and then the show began.
The show started out strong but I have to say that after London, I am not sure anything can compare. Once the semantics were over, the party began. It was a concert for the Cariocas, which was awesome for them. They were having the best time. But for us Americans whom didn’t know any song or performer it became an old story after awhile.
The rain picked up and it was getting later by the minute so we decided to start our journey through some wild weather back to Barra. Our driver Max was waiting for us where we left him, luckily. We had an interesting ride back, Max told us about how two men tried to carjack him while waiting for us. He was telling us the story in very broken english and google translate all while driving in the rain. He wanted to show us what he did so he leaned over Shane and opened the glove box and pulled out a knife. Apparently he threatened these men with it and scared them away but it was a interesting play of events, especially for Shane who was in the front seat and not sure what was going to happen. We laughed about it the rest of the night. We made it home just fine and I’m pretty sure the closing ceremonies were still going after we fell asleep.
If there was any day to sleep in, this was it. Our final day in Rio. Nothing really to do as the pool is closed on Monday’s and we had check out after lunch. We lounged around, grabbed some food and chocolate for the girls and then met Patti and Cathy at theirs for our ride to the airport. We were very lucky to have access to the Delta sky lounge this trip. Free food, drinks, wifi and a place to relax really can’t be beat. The airport was swarming with media trying to catch interviews with athletes and even artists entertaining waiting passengers.
With that our trip home was a cinch. After a very good meal and some free wine I watched a couple of chick flicks and then reclined myself down for some sleep.
It’s really too bad the media made Rio out to be this terrible scary place because it was brilliant. I can really appreciate the hard hand that came down on Lochte because this city of Barra did not deserve that negative bullshit. The people were funny and went out of their way to take care of us, even with a language barrier. There was no harm in grabbing a taxi, and even alone I would have felt safe…(that is taking common sense precautions.)
That said there were a few things that I missed being out of the states. Their paper products leave much to the imagination as does their plumbing. There were zero signs posted outside of stores or restaurants so you have no clue if a place is open or when it’s closing. And their food, well let’s just say we have it really good here in the states. But after two weeks, it gets easy. The transportation, the shopping the language and ok not the food but most everything becomes easy and natural. I will miss it and I get why people love it there, it’s a pretty awesome place to visit.
We took Friday and Saturday to be tourists. We spent Friday wandering around Pepé beach and walked up the coast to Barra beach. We stumbled upon a farmers market serving fruit, fish, cheese and freshly made pastels.
The weather threatened to dribble on us and although the sun was hiding the weather was still enjoyable.
We tucked into a kiosk by the beach for some drinks and a snack. The views and the waves were hard to beat.
We picked to end our day at the Windsor hotel for a last adult beverage. They had a rooftop pool and bar and since the weather wasn’t perfect for sunning we had the place to ourselves.
We planned a dinner with Wags, his mom and Patti. I really wanted us to try Porcao a local Churrascaria but the one in Barra was closed for renovations. Instead we went to Fogo de Chao, which we have been to in San Diego…so much for branching out.
The food was fine but again we were disappointed in the salad bar offerings. Dessert was and has always been the best part of the meals here.
Saturday morning while lounging around our place I was trying to find something new for us to check out. I came across a TripAdvisor forum talking about a little island right by Pepe beach. They have a water taxi that will take you across the lagoon for 1 Real$ and once there we could eat and drink at some of the local restaurants and bars. Shane did the legwork to figure out where we find this ferry taxi and then we called an Uber and set out.
We were let off on the road and told to walk down an alley way and the ferry was waiting for us.
Once we were on the small island we tried to map our way to one of the restaurants but the island is so small that even google maps was confused. So we just wandered around.
Finally we found one of the places that we were looking for. Clearly it was well marked, amazing anyone can find it.
This is when we really felt like we were in Brazil. It was low key, tropical and scenic.
We sat along the water and took in the sights while we waited for our order of pastel de carne.
We spent a few hours on the island and then left for the beach to meet Wags for a last hurrah. We met some very nice and interesting people, did some dancing and enjoyed the night with the cariocas. It was a great finale to our trip, now it’s time to get ready for closing ceremonies. I can’t believe the two weeks is almost up.
Our plan for Thursday was to meet up with everyone first thing in the morning to go see Christ the Redeemer. Patti was great enough to do all the leg work on the arrangements. She got us a van to take us all out there which was nice. The only problem is the traffic here is absurd and it took about an hour and half to go 24 miles. We were dropped off at Copacabana beach to pick up our ticket to head up to Corcovado. The lady at the ticket counter told us that the visibility at that moment was very bad and might not be worth the trek up so see clouds.
After some discussion, we agreed that we would eat something on the beach and then go back and get tickets.
Once we got our tickets we were put into another van and settled back into more traffic. It’s like there are only two roads in this enormous city and everyone is on them.
Once you reach the top and climb up to statue the views are incredible.
You can see full panoramic view of Rio, from Maracana stadium to Impanema beach.
We really lucked out with the weather. We had 100% visibility and once we saw what we wanted the clouds rolled in and took over the entire place. The weather turned chilly and that was our queue to head back. None of us were looking forward to getting back in that van but I guess the one road back into the city is a faster route because we were back at Copacabana in minutes.
Our driver and I were communicating via WhatsApp which has been a great tool here. He was back to pick us up and ready to take us home. Again the drive was incredibly long and once we returned the day was practically over.
Shane Wags and i went to dinner with Wags’ dad at a churrascaria that was recommended to him. We had a decent dinner although the meat here just isn’t the same as at home, and the vegetables leave little to be desired. At least that is what we have found so far. Once we all consumed way too much food we made our way home for the night. Now, what do we do tomorrow?
Wrapping up Tennis
I really want to skip a few days, would you mind? No, okay so let’s bullet point or else I will never get this all written.
- Tuesday morning we took the gals to the Barra shopping mall and went back to that Italian restaurant I bragged about and I’m confident everyone enjoyed it.
- Tuesday night tennis, OY! Gold medal match. I hope most of you were able to watch and if you weren’t, the USA played some brilliant tennis, only problem….their opponents weren’t Quadriplegics…..
- USA took silver medal and that’s not a sad story to tell.
I think we got some decent sleep that night although we have been waking up at the same time we do at home, which really isn’t cool. I’m sure come the weekend we will be pros at sleeping in, just in time to go home to the girls.
Wednesday Wags had his bronze medal match. We sat in the hot sun and watched what we thought was going to be a hard loss. Somewhere he found the strength to dig deep and he won 5 straight games in the third set to win the medal. It was very stressful but pure greatness to watch.
The medal ceremony wasn’t going to be held until after the last match of the day. That gave us a few hours to hang around, which we weren’t strangers at doing.
We grabbed some lunch and sat around chatting over beers until the time came.
Brazilian fans are some of the best fans
We wrapped up the night with watching Wags receive his 8th medal, which is the most of any male tennis player …ever. You guys, that is pretty fucking awesome!
Im not getting these posts out very fast, we have closed down the Olympic venue two nights in a row and aren’t getting to bed until after midnight…yawn.
Monday morning we met the ladies out on the street, grabbed two cabs and headed down to Pepe beach. The sidewalks are sprinkled with Kiosks serving beer and snacks. One in particular, an Argentina place serving fresh fish was supposed to be really good. But once we got down there we realized it was closed, probably for the winter. Plan B. We walked, up and down the beach, planning our next visit. Maybe we will paddle board, definitely take a dip in the ocean and rent a beach chair to sit and soak up some rays.
There were benches lining the pier and under each one was a cat along with a bowl of water and kibble.
We wandered into a seafood restaurant and was greeted by a very humorous and kind Mâitre D. Sharing a couple of mediocre dishes, seafood paella and fish stew we watched the palm trees sway in the tropical breeze.
Once our bellies were full we took advantage of one of the kiosks. Kicked our feet up and sipped on a cold drink.
After lapping up the sights we jumped in taxis and went back to our condos to prep for tennis. On our way home, our taxi was hit by another car, we were fine. The drivers got out, yelled at each other for a few minutes and then we were back on our way.
The tennis part of the day wasn’t as good as the beach. Wags had a tough match against GB and lost his chance at the gold medal. It was a long night and hit on our emotions a tad too hard. We didn’t get back until very late and we were out once our heads hit the pillow.
We took full advantage of our Sunday, starting with checking out that shopping center I mentioned a few days ago. It’s got everything, restaurants, a grocery store, hardware store, a dentist and even a Subway.
We chose to eat an early lunch at the place where the locals were. Some grilled meat, fries and cold cerveja.
It was a pretty decent meal. After lunch we took full advantage of our pool, it was very cold but still very nice.
And then we did the worst thing possible. We FaceTimed the girls, it was rough as Kaili was upset and trying to hold back tears. It really put a damper on my day. I tried to shake it off and we got dressed to head out for some tennis. Wags got us all passes to hang out in the family lounge…
It was really nice to sit in the air conditioning with free beer, I mean who would complain about that? We got to really enjoy each others company for a few hours before the match started.
When time came we made our way to our seats for Wags and Nicks first doubles match. The atmosphere was brilliant.
They played some great tennis and pulled out a win.
We then headed to the other side of town for a very late and not so great dinner. Even the drinks were bad, but the company was worth it!
Everywhere You Go
Yesterday, sheesh seems like forever. We started the day at Olympic park and headed to cycling. Another event I have never seen. To say I was blown away is an understatement. Shane said it best “wow, that gave me chills.” To watch these athletes break world records with one leg or prosthetics is incredible and I wish you all could see it live one day.
Time came to head over to the tennis venue to watch Nick (David’s doubles partner) play the first match of the day. Unfortunately that would be Nick’s last singles match as he lost.
On a good note, David played very well and won… I want to say easily but I don’t want to jinx anything.The crowds of people here are insane. I know it looks by some of the photos that we are the only ones here, but that is NOT the case. I also want to give a shout out to the Carioca’s (people of Brazil) they have been nothing but friendly, helpful and fun loving.
After David’s match Shane and I decided to venture out a bit. I did a little research before coming here on things to do, see and eat. Barra Shopping Mall is the biggest mall in all of the county and home to a few very good restaurants, so I am told. We walked a few blocks hoping to grab an Uber but phone service wasn’t working in our favor. Instead we flagged down a cab and was reached our destination within minutes and no problems.
After some important shopping…
we ate at a recommended restaurant. By far the best meal we have had and hopefully not the last. We started with croquettes and Caprioska’s ( that is a Caprihini but made with vodka instead of rum)
We finished the meal with perfectly cooked ravioli filled with burrata in a saffron tomato cream sauce…You guys, it was SO GOOD!
After our meal we hopped back in a cab and made it safely home after dark. We popped into the bar in our resort and chatted with a British man for a few hours over beers and Caprioskas. What more could we ask for?
Let’s Watch Tennis
Do you know what happens when you go to bed at 7:30 p.m.? You wake up at 3:00 a.m. and that is a fact, at least for me. Instead of stressing about the time and worrying when the girls were going to wake up, I scrolled through Instagram, read a few chapters of my book and then fell back to sleep. I woke to Shane making coffee at 6:45, not bad….hoping for maybe 7:00 tomorrow.
After a very casual breakfast we went to meet the gang at the Olympic venue. Cathy was able to get us tickets to see some swimming, something I haven’t been able to do yet.
Shane and I decided to head back to the apartment to change and grab some lunch before watching tennis. Apparently a few hundred other people had the same idea and we weren’t having much luck in the food department. We finally settled on some “street” pizza, that is what I am going to call it. More like a pop up tent with some beers and pizza, I think there were fries and hot dogs too…
Doesn’t look terrible does it? Don’t let the picture fool you, it wasn’t good, like at all. AND can we talk about why other countries feel the need to douse their food in warm mayo? Warm mayo is like what would happen if men produced milk, it would taste so bad. You’re welcome for that!
Once back at the tennis venue we settled in for a few matches. As the sun went down we watched Wag’s win his first match of the Paralympics 6-4 6-4.
He had some fans waiting for him afterwards, kids longing for autographs.
And then we all took the obligatory photo together with our wonderful matching ( ahem sarcasm font) t-shirts on.
We finished the evening with dinner at a restaurant near our abode. Nothing great, just okay food. Well the coconut cake was pretty delicious but all I have to show for it is a picture of our beers.
Today is Shane and my 10 year wedding anniversary. At this time 10 years ago we were a little bit drunk probably very loud. Eight years ago we were in China at the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics. Four years ago we were being serenaded by Chris Martin, Jay Z and Rhianna at the London closing ceremonies and tonight we are settled in our place with Brahma cerveja, so maybe I should say goodnight and talk to him instead of you.
A Week In Photos
Birthday party fun.
Morning walk. Thinking about helping ourselves to some oranges.
Cutting practice, look at that perfect form.
A day at Big Bad SeaWorld.
Let’s Hang out in North Park.
Artist. Her people are coming along nicely.
First school photo.
Eating our money’s worth at a Churrascaria, a birthday lunch for Uncle Wags.