Tijuca National Park (Rio Day 7)

Following our visit to Christ the Redeemer, our guide took us around Tijuca National Park. There is plenty to do within the park itself and we saw just a small portion of it during our brief tour. You can go on hikes, see waterfalls, and have a picnic among other activities. Plenty of tour organizers have trips to the forest if you don’t have your own private guide or private vehicle. Some claim that the Tijuca National Park is the largest urban forest in the world, though it’s heavily disputed and the honor likely goes to Johannesburg’s urban forest. But regardless, the park is massive and encompasses approximately 32 square kilometers.

Surprisingly the park isn’t natural, it’s a man made reclamation of land after the majority of the Atlantic Rainforest had been cut down for sugarcane and coffee. In the late 19th century, Major Manual Gomes Archer was worried about water supply and erosion of the land and launched the effort to replant the land. The land has been a national park since 1961. The project has been highly successful and no visit to Rio de Janeiro would be complete without a visit to the park. Although you are technically inside the park when visiting Christ the Redeemer, it’s worth a venture to other landmarks further inside the park.

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Christ the Redeemer (Rio Day 7)

We left one entire day completely free to see the city of Rio de Janeiro while in town for the Olympics. We debated several different options for how best to see some of the popular sights around the city. Normally we’d lean towards a do-it-ourselves tour, but with the crowds from the Olympics and the language barrier, we opted to hire a private guide for the majority of the day to take us around. We found Bernard through TripAdvisor and he was fantastic. He planned the day out and made recommendations to us on different things to visit than we originally asked about. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the city having grown up there and provided great commentary and insight into the city’s culture.

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October 2017

October was a busy month and I am grateful for everything we got to do during the month of October, especially when we closed out the month with a long weekend in Orlando, Florida visiting Universal and Disney World. The primary goal of the trip to Florida was to experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, something that I’ve been trying to go to for years. We typically travel somewhere in the fall so I feel like I can’t take a long weekend so close to having a whole week off. Well this year, worked out perfectly with our last vacation week of the year in August. We were plenty free to take off on a long weekend to experience the festival. Of course, we had to add in a day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well. We had visited back in 2011, just months after the Hogsmeade part had opened. It was so intense back then and I remember the hour long wait to even get to enter the Hogsmeade World. We were dying to experience the Diagon Alley side plus return to Hogsmeade without the insane crowds. We also spent a day in the Animal Kingdom (the hype about Avatar Flight of Passage is real!) and a half day in the Magic Kingdom.

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Eat Rio Food Tour (Rio Day 5)

One of our favorite things to do while traveling recently is to take a food tour of some sort while in a city. We’ve found it’s an amazing way to really get to know both the food and the culture of a city. It’s usually more intimate than a city wide sight seeing tour and you get a great insight into the local food scene from a local guide. In Rio, we easily narrowed in on the Eat Rio Food Tours. Every review we read was outstanding and it was an easy choice for the four of us to include the food tour on one of our free days in the city. We booked super early (like a couple months ahead) due to the Olympics and were glad when they had availability on two of our possible days we listed. The tour started around 10am and the meeting location in Lapa was within walking distance from our AirBnb.

We were extremely excited by the time the tour came around after having been in Rio for four days and not finding a lot of exciting places to eat or food to try. Unfortunately, as we learned on the tour local Rio de Janeiro food isn’t all that exciting. It really does feature a lot of meat and per kilo restaurants that we saw everywhere, but luckily we did learn that the cuisine in the rest of the country was a bit more exciting. The tour took us to a variety of restaurants and places that let us sample different regional specialties, which we all thought was fantastic since a tour of only local Rio food would consist of meat and more meat. Our guide, Angela, is originally from Australia, but has been living in Brazil for many years after marrying a local Brazilian. She offered fascinating insight into transitioning from a country with a lot of diverse food options, to a city with a more narrow interest in culinary tastes.

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Flashback: Rhodes, Greece 2011

Our final stop on our 2011 trip around Greece was the island of Rhodes. The island wasn’t initially on our itinerary as we initially wanted to visit Crete. However, we ended up changing to Rhodes due to a recommendation from someone who said it was their favorite island in Greece. We also weighed that Crete looked like there was more to do there and we would want to devote more than 48 hours to the island. The ferry schedule was also more convenient from Santorini to Rhodes as it was overnight and we wouldn’t waste part of a day traveling to another island. All in all, it wasn’t our favorite place in Greece and we are unlikely to return. The island was fine, but almost any island after Santorini is going to be a let down in terms of scenery. Rhodes was fine but a few unfortunate incidents left us with a bad memory of the island which is not to fault the entire island of course, but just not how you want to end your trip.

We arrived in Rhodes Town early in the morning and proceeded to take a taxi from the port to our hotel. We were of course too early for check in, so the hotel allowed us to leave our bags and told us to come back after 2pm when we could check in. We said no problem and headed out to do some sightseeing. We were staying in the main hub of the island, Rhodes Town. Eventually when we would return a few hours later, they had given our room away. Not the news we were expecting to hear, especially after having already been there earlier in the day. After a lot of nagging, they booked us a room at another hotel and it ended up being quite the upgrade for us. It was frustrating and we wasted a lot of our day dealing with the issue, especially since it wasn’t just something they offered to do right away after informing us our room was gone. We had to complain and ask multiple times before they agreed to do anything.¬† + Read More

Photos of the Weekend: Universal and Disney