Brazil: Cristo Redentor — Wonder of the World

Brazil Travel post #8: Cristo Redentor (intro post is here).
Many locals see the statue as watching over their city.

For our last stop in Rio de Janeiro, we’re headed to the top of Corcovado mountain to see one of the New 7 Wonders of the World (two down, five to go!). Cristo Redentor translates to “Christ the Redeemer” in English, and is one of the most iconic statues on earth.

Not to mention a top tourist destination since its construction in 1931.

In MURDERED, you head up to the top for a major clue in the interactive mystery, and if you so choose, you can take the tourist cog train to the top.

So, of course, I made it a priority to do so myself. You’ll find plenty of warnings out there about how hard it is to get tickets day-of (during a holiday! When the cruise ships are in port! Oh my!), but when you’re travelling in a pair, things can go your way. As soon as we got to the station, the ticket salesman informed us there were two more tickets available for the next train. Despite an afternoon rainstorm, we went for it.

Yeah, this poster is not to scale. Like…at all.

The cog train takes you through the Tijuca forest, up the side of the mountain, and offers several in-car views of the city below.

Not too crowded for a selfie.
View from the train car.
First glimpse!

Once you make it to the top, you’re shuffled past a half-dozen souvenir shops and multiple restaurants.

Keep walking, sir.

Eventually, you’ll make it to the top.

Look up, look up!

And what will you see?

This.
Carved from soapstone, He stands over 100ft high.

And once you’re done trying to take your picture in the same pose, you can look out over the city yourself.

Cheers!

That’s it for Rio. Click to continue to...The Jungle!


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Brazil: Food & Drink

Brazil Travel post #5: Food & Drink (intro post is here).

Brazil was a culinary delight. Travel not only serves to open one’s mind, but to broaden your palate as well. Join me now as I show the best this self-proclaimed foodie discovered on our trip.

Churrascaria

Brazil is known for red meat and a “Churrasco” is the ultimate steakhouse experience.

Stock photo because I was drooling too much to take a picture.

It’s a special experience where young men (sometimes dressed in traditional cowboy garb), bring choice cuts of meat to your table, slice you off a bite, and continue on. You choose how much you’d like, which cuts, and if you’d like to make room for the salad bar. Hint: you’re not here for salad.

This type of experience can be found in MURDERED if you choose to go to São Paulo with Agent Bertram:

 “Ever have churrasco?” Agent Bertram asks when he picks you up. Before you can answer, he adds, “There’s a great place near here.”
Flames leap out from the kitchen, kissing the meat as the chefs rotate each skewer, trying to keep in as much of the juices as they can. You’re in the Churrascaria now, a high-end restaurant dedicated to Brazilian beef. Churrasco is synonymous with barbeque in this country, and they have a specialized way of cooking it. The sizzling spit from the grill and the smell coming from the kitchen is intoxicating and on an empty stomach, you start to salivate.
“You’re in for a treat, Hotshot. Good luck looking the same at steak back in the US ever again.”

While we weren’t able to make it to São Paulo, we did go to the famed Churrascaria Búfalo in Manaus. If you’re in the area, go.

For dessert? Flame-roasted pinneapple with a sweet-spiced glaze.
For dessert? Flame-roasted pineapple with a sweet-spiced glaze.

High-end Cuisine

As mentioned, the exchange rate in Brazil is currently very favorable for those with American dollars to spend. To this end, we went for a gourmet sushi experience for our first night in Ipanema at a restaurant called Tenkai. We ordered specialty sake cocktails that blended Brazilian tastes with Japanese style. The Brazilian-made sake with lychee fruit was to die for. We couldn’t quite decide what to eat, so we opted for a 60-piece sushi feast. It was so big, they had to sail it in on a boat…

Another stock photo because I suck at pictures when I’m hungry.

Traditional Brazilian

Aside from red meat, if you’re eating like the locals, you’re eating seafood and some variation of manioc (a root that’s a staple of the diet). Stews are ubiquitous, usually accompanied by rice. Breaded and fried entrees are common.

One of the best places for this type of food was at a restaurant in Urca called (wait for it)… Bar Urca.

I did it! I managed to take a picture before we ate!
I did it! I managed to take a picture before we ate!

Fish

Unlike most countries with a large oceanic border, Brazil seemed to serve primarily river fish. With the largest freshwater waterway in the world, this isn’t very surprising, but the entrees themselves certainly were. We tried many variety of fish on our Rio Negro boat tour (blog posts on this topic will arrive eventually, I promise!), and each one was new and exciting. If you’re someone who’s not into seafood because of that “fishy taste” — I’d recommend trying some river fish.

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Piranha! Very different, very good. In fact, for me, piranha tasted more like poultry than fish. Everything new tastes like chicken, right?

Bebidas — drinks!

Brazil also offered a full array of new and exciting drinks, from coffee to fruit juices to alcohol.

Everyone loves Calvin and Hobbes!
Everyone loves Calvin and Hobbes!

The drink you’ll find everywhere is the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. Sugarcane rum, lime, ice, and more sugar.

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Ready for tourists!

Beer is also common, and even those imported from outside of Brazil could be exotic to us.

Cervezas!
Cervezas!

To end our drink experience, we decided to try to the Brazilian take on Colorado craft brews:

Our Brazilian Airbnb hostess was quite taken aback by the darker beer. Not common in Brazil, apparently.
Our Brazilian Airbnb hostess was quite taken aback by the darker beer. Not common in Brazil, apparently.

That’s it for today. I tried not to retread over the food/drink mentioned in previous posts (like the amazing breakfast at the Copacabana Palace!) or spoil too much for the future (piranha fishing! piranha fishing! OMG, piranha fishing!).

Click to continue: Let’s go sightseeing!


Thanks for reading! Do you have an adventurous palate? What would you most like to try?

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Come with me, Vamos o Brasil!

I’m back from spending the holidays with my wife in Brazil! As promised, I’m going to tell you all about it.

The trip was split into two parts. First, we took a riverboat deep into the Amazon jungle. The Amazon river itself is far too settled for a true rainforest experience, with industry and cities crowding her mighty banks. Instead, we went on the adjoining Rio Negro, living on the boat for a week. During this time we took day excursions into the jungle on foot and explored the islands, inlets, and archipelagos with smaller watercraft.

The Tucano! Our home on the river.
The Tucano! Our home on the river.

It was a magical, crazy experience that included fishing for (and eating!) piranha, seeing our guide “charm” an enormous, bird-eating tarantula bigger than my hand out of its burrow,  watching giant river otter chase a large caiman alligator onto land, and much, much more.  I’ll blog about these stories (with pictures!) day-by-day as we go along.

For the second half, we journeyed to Rio de Janeiro, a vibrant city home to more than 12 million people, and the setting for the vast majority of the events featured in MURDERED. Here we saw the sights, ate like locals, strolled the beaches — and found adventure as well.

One of Rio's many "favela" slums. Yep, we went here.
One of Rio’s many “favela” slums that dot the hillsides. Yep, we went here.

Each day, I’m going to share with you pictures and stories from the trip, as well as highlight those experiences that you can live for yourself in MURDERED.

I’m not going to present all the photos and stories chronologically, lest I risk turning this into a family vacation slideshow. Instead, I’m going to share my experiences in Brazil by subject. I’ll show the people, the places, graffiti, food, the jungle, and more. Because my book begins in Rio and moves out to the jungle, so will this blog. Each day will be something new.

How many days? I’m not sure yet, but I hope you’ll join me in reliving this truly epic journey.

Click to continue to the first topic: Brazil: Resort, Hostel, Palace, Guestroom


Thanks for reading! What parts of Brazil are you most excited to see? Have you ever been? Requests for stories or anecdotes on travel?

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