Posted: 11/24/2011


        IīM BACK !! after 12 years or so I am in one of my favourite places in the whole, wide world: Rio de Janeiro.

       Its time for a late dinner after a stroll on the long promenade on Guanabara Bay with my friend Tania. Lots of little mom and pop cafes line the shore, Brasilian, Mexican, Pizzarias, Australian, Baccala(cod), Japanese... We choose SHIMAKI cafe, with little red paper lanterns overlooking the beach. Kids are still kicking footballs, fishing with lines, lovers strolling, seagulls looking for a meal, joggers, and more.

       The bay is 1.5 klm wide with Picado Papagaio(Parrotīs Peak) at one end and Pacha Acucar(Sugar Loaf)at the other, and traversed by the huge Rio-Niteroi 13.3 km long bridge. In January 1502 a couple of  Portuguese explorers came across it and also the Rio de Janeiro( River of January).

      Of 130 islands in the bay, Governador Island is the largest and the site of the international airport, Galeao, now renamed Antonio Carlos Jobian (of The Girl from Ipanema song). As I arrived on KLM from Amsterdam, so did Air France from Paris, and LAN from Santiago, Chile. I flew on a Boeing 777 and the airport needs a major upgrade like we pleasantly saw in South Africa, if itīs going to host both the 2012 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics successfully. Long lines, with  half a dozen students working the lines to check on entry forms prior to the immigration controls.

      KLM has just restarted flights from Amsterdam after a 12 year gap, and so has Lufthansa from Frankfurt. 

    Anyway, back to food!! We chose warm sushi, Hot Philadelphia, which is salmon and cream cheese, plus a delicious bowl of shrimp Yakisoba with lots of little noodles and veggies eaten with chopsticks. Washed down with a favourite of mine,ice cold Guarana, made from Amazonian berries from the guarana tree. Guarana Antarctica is the top selling brand, now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. The beverage is second in sales only to Coca-Cola, and is a major sponsor of the Brasilian national football team.

     There is a great TV commercial, featuring Argentinian Diego Maradona, singing the Brasilian national anthem, and wearing a distinctive yellow Brasilain jersey. Well, he wakes up and says it must have been a dream after drinking Guarana Antarctica. It caused quit a stir in his home country.

     Iīm going to have a great week in BRASIL !!