Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

July 3
We woke up early in Belo and Reinaldo drove us 6 hours to Rio. It was a long drive but we drove passed nice scenery and mountains. We got to the city and Reinaldo dropped us off at Rick’s friend’s place, where we would stay for four nights. When Rick and Logan backpacked Southeast Asia two years ago, they met this guy, Pedro, in Vietnam and traveled with him for a few weeks. He said that we could stay with him during the World Cup so we took him up on his offer. He is 23 years old and has one semester left of university. He has lived in Rio for 13 years with his parents in their current apartment. It is right in the heart of a main beach and shopping district, only one half of a block away from the beach. It was awesome. It had three bedrooms and a large living room. Rick, Pedro and I went to dinner after walking around the area. He took us to an outdoor cafe where you grill your own meat at your table. After, we went back to his apartment and then went out to meet his friends at an area called BG. It was a large square with a few bars. But most of the action was in the street. There aren’t any open container laws here so people buy cheap drinks from people walking around with carts and then they all hang out in the streets outside of bars. I love drinking outside so I had a good time. We met some of his friends and talked for a while over some beers, then walked across the street to an outdoor club. The line was over an hour long so we just went back to the area where we started. Later, we went to another club called The Cave. It was underground and was decent. Around 4:00 am, we started our walk home down the main road in the area. We went to burger king and then called it a night. It was a solid first night in Rio.

July 4
Today is the day we have been waiting for. We are going to the France vs Germany World Cup quarter final match! Rick, dad, Logan and I all applied for tickets last fall in a lottery and only one of us won them. There was a less than one percent chance per game we applied for that we could win. Rick and I left pretty early and took the metro to the stadium. It was super simple and free to take the public transit if you present your match ticket. We met some Americans on the metro and talked with them the whole time. They were following the USA around the country until they lost and now they were in Rio for this game. We met dad at the last metro stop, which was Maracana Stadium, the main soccer stadium in Rio. It seats around 80,000 people but looks bigger. We walked out of the metro station, and immediately were hit with high security. We had to present our ticket to about 8 people on our walk to the stadium and between those people were thousands of police officers dressed for combat and holding machine guns. It was pretty intense but I felt really secure. This intense security made walking around the outside of the stadium before the game a lot nicer. There were no scalpers, no one selling things or trying to rob you. It was great. We walked around and tried to find something to do outside but we could only find one place that sold drinks. It was less than two hours until game-time so they only sold beer in the said in now. It was a cool spot to be though because Germany fans and France fans were gathering there cheering at each other and waving national flags in the air. It wasn’t rowdy so police stayed back. We walked into the stadium area where we found more to do. There were huge temporary FIFA sculptures and a few large outdoor bars and coca cola stands. We got three or four beers at the Budweiser bar and hung out. It was a great atmosphere to see people all repping their country colors, whether their team was here still or not. Rick and I were wearing USA shirts and American flag capes. 99% of people loved it and wanted pictures with us. About 20 minutes before the match started, we went into the stadium and found our seats. Logan was still not to be found. Logan was supposed to be here 24 hours ago but his flight in New York City got canceled due to weather two days ago. He had to fly to Dallas, then to Houston and then to Rio. His flight yesterday took off late but he got to Dallas, then to Houston, and last we heard from him, he was lifting off for Rio. With two minutes left before the match started, Logan shows up sweating his ass off. His flight landed late and he took a taxi to Pedro’s. As soon as he got to Pedro’s, Pedro three money and his ticket at him and said, “you have to leave now!” Logan got to the Maracana stop and then ran to the stadium. He didn’t have time to change clothes or anything. He literally just made it. It was epic. The national anthems played and then the match began. It was a great 90 minutes of play. Germany won 1-0 and it was pretty even the entire time. We had to much fun being in all the action of the World Cup. We took the metro back to Pedro’s and watched the Brazil match. His family and friends were all over in their Brazil jerseys. When Brazil scored, it got pretty crazy in there. We ate some Brazilian food, called Fejeida (or something like this) that was a bunch of meat cooked in beans for hours. It was really good. After the match, dad left to meet back up with Reinaldo and we all hung out in the living room. Rick, Logan and Pedro went out to the BG area again, but I stayed in because I felt sick and wanted to sleep it off. It was a solid day of soccer.

July 5
We woke up fairly early and had breakfast with Pedro and his family. Pedro then walked us down Ipanema beach right near his apartment. It was a nice beach and had sands that sold delicious cold coconuts to drink. We walked to the end of the beach and then continued to the world famous Copacabana Beach. It was very long and had many small restaurants on it. There were a ton of volleyball and soccer nets too. We walked to where Pedro’s friends were hanging out and played sport games on the beach. We swam and hung out for a while. Logan Rick and I caught the second half of the Argentina game in one of the outdoor restaurants on the beach. We all then walked down the beach to FIFA Fan Fest. It is an event that FIFA hosts in all cities with World Cup stadiums in Brazil throughout the World Cup. People go to the area and cheer on teams in a huge common space. This one in Rio is the main one and largest. We got pretty close to the big screen and hung out for 40 minutes before the Costa Rica vs Netherlands match started. We were right next to about 20 people from the Netherlands we so cheered for them. Once the match started, a bunch of cameramen and photographers came up to them and kept cameras in their face the entire time, trying to get their reactions during big plays. It got really annoying for the fans. Netherlands won, so it was fun to celebrate after the final penalty kick was saved by their goalie. Pedro got his phone stollen at one point during the celebration so that took away his excitement. We then took a bus to a famous Brazilian steak house called Fogo De Chou. It was a delicious all you can eat steak house. We met dad and Reinaldo there and hung out for a few hours. It was a fantastic meal. After, everyone left and Rick, Dad, Reinaldo, Logan and I stood by the harbor in the back of the restaurant and talked. Logan, Rick and I said goodbye to Reinaldo and then took a cab back to Pedro’s place. We went out with him and his girlfriend at midnight to see a UFC fight. The first was between two badass girls, but the American, Rhonda, won in 14 seconds. She flipped the girl over her side and started pounding her face in. She is really good. The middleweight fight between the two guys was really good. It lasted all five rounds and was very intense. It was an American vs a Brazilian and the American won! We left that bar and grabbed one more beer on the street by Pedro’s place before calling it a night. It was a great day.

July 6
We all got up around 8:30 am when dad met us at Pedro’s apartment. Dad, Rick, Logan, and I took a cab to the bottom of the mountain of Christ the Redeemer. The wait for the trolly was three hours, so we took a bus. We only waited about 40 minutes in total and it took about 30 minutes to get to the top of the mountain. We saw the famous Christ with his arms spread out to the sides like a cross. It was built in the 1920’s and is the symbol of Rio. We took some pictures and enjoyed the amazing view from above Rio. It is such a mountainous and beautiful city. You could see all the beaches and different neighborhoods from above. It was great. We took the bus down and then took a taxi to the other famous tourist stop of Rio, the Sugar Loaf. We ate lunch by a harbor and then took a cable car to the top of a really steep mountain. We walked around the top and enjoyed the views. We needed up taking a quick helicopter tour of Rio! It was awesome! I have never ridden in a helicopter before so it was an amazing experience for me. I was smiling the entire flight. I loved how the helicopter could maneuver so effortlessly. It felt so cool to fly on angles to turn. At one point, we started going upward to then turn around and go back. It felt like something I have seen in movies. We went around all of the main coastal area and landed back on the mountain helipad. We took another cable car to the top of the higher of the two mountains and enjoyed those views from way up. We said goodbye to dad because he had to catch a flight back the the USA. We had a really great time with him over the past week. It was a lot of fun. Rick, Logan and I waited around for an hour and a half for the sunset. We met some Americans and talked to them for a while too. It was a relaxing fun end to the day. We took the cable car down before the rush and then took a taxi back to Pedro’s. We ate some chicken at his place and then went to one of the main going out areas, called Lapa. It was a really cool looking area with a bunch of bars. There is a huge aqueduct that goes right through the area that just never got knocked down, so that gives the area a cool vibe, as well. The first place we went to was a jazzy bar. Pedro’s friend was in the band so we watched him play for a while and drank some beer. We then walked to these famous steps from a Snoop Dog music video that were decorated with Brazilian colors. We walked to a live band club and said goodbye to Pedro for the night since he had to work in the morning. Rick, Logan and I went in and got drinks. We hung out there for 3 hours. It was slow at first but we ended up meeting some really cool people who all worked for Emirates Airlines and are based in Dubai. One guy was a pilot and the 6 girls were all stewardesses. They were from Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Bosnia, and USA. We left the bar around 1:00 am and took a taxi back to Pedro’s. It was a fun night in a neat area.

July 7
We woke up early to go hang gliding but getting a reservation has been a nightmare. We ended up getting a reservation but it is now cancelled because of too much wind. Instead, we just walked around Pedro’s area and went a small peninsula at the end of the beach. We then walked to a big lagoon and then ate lunch at the place where Frank Sinatra’s song, “Girl from Ipanema” came from. The guy wrote the song was sitting here when he saw the girl. The food was ok. We went back to Pedro’s and gave his mom flowers. We showered and packed up, and said goodbye to his mom. His dad had to go to the airport too, so he drove us to our terminal to catch our flight to Florianopolis. Our time in Rio has been great.