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Archives for September 2014

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The Hottest Spot North of Havana


My name isn’t Lola, and I’m not a showgirl, but we were in the Copacabana at the end of July. It was considered wintertime and cloudy for most of our stay, but we made the best of it even if we missed the masses of people lying on the Copacabana Beach. We did luck out one of the days and had some sunshine.

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We walked up and down the entire beach. Though the beach wasn’t packed with people, there were still groups playing volleyball, or a variation of it. They had the volleyball net up and played with a soccer ball, using only their head and feet to hit the ball over. It was very cool, and certainly not for the uncoordinated ones.

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There were also soccer nets set up, although I didn’t see anyone playing when we were walking. I also saw many gym parks set up by the edge of the beach for anyone to use, as well as fitness groups meeting up on the beach. This country certainly values being in shape. They were doing boxing, and circuit training. Working out on the beach every day would be my motivation!

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I was told that the closer you are to the ocean, the safer you are. When we decided to venture a few blocks inward, the scenery started looking a little sketchy. Like anything else when you travel abroad, be cognizant when you’re out and about. We ended up at the Copcabana Palace Hotel, the premier luxury hotel in Rio. Many famous people have stayed there. Our accommodations were right by Copcabana Beach, so, we went to this hotel for lunch and merienda.

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The building was beautiful, but came across a communication barrier when asking about where to dine. If you’re not fluent in Portuguese, you can speak Spanish. At least then, your idea would get across. We ended up in the lounge area and had some canapes while getting a taste of Brazil’s national cocktail – Caipirinha – sugar cane hard liquor (cachaca), sugar and lime.

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As we were told, this is the progression of drinking Caipirinha’s:

  • 1 drink – You’re still okay.
  • 2 drinks – You speak perfect Portugese.
  • 3 drinks – You speak perfect Chinese.
  • 4 drinks – Uh oh, you’re done and gone.
  • 5 drinks – Say a prayer and hope for the best.

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Happy travels friends!

Panama: Food Brings People Together

We asked the taxi driver what type of food to eat, and what restaurants he would recommend we would eat at that was near our hotel. Seafood was the answer. If you’re a big fisherman, come to Panama. This place has lots of sports fishing. Though you’ll likely pay a hefty tag when you bring your prized fish home.

He pointed out Costa Azul. It is a 24 hours diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. They had a lot of offerings on the menu. We each ordered a local dish that the taxi driver had explained to us. Most of them were seafood dishes. It seemed to be a combo of Caribbean and Latin American flavors.

This tomato based stew dish has shrimp in it. It came with a side of plantain chips.

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This is a local white fish that is in a creamy stew. It was really rich in flavor. I had to switch with mister, whose dish was salty and balanced it out.

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They offer all types of cuisines if you just walk around the area. Sometimes what they offer is plainly seen in the title, such as this place, Me Gusta Comida Vegetariana (I Like Vegetarian Food).

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If you’re feeling adventurous, they have a lot of food vendors on the street. Whatever they were cooking smelled fantastic!

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That first evening, we stayed at the bar of the hotel and tried the local beer. It goes down pretty easy.

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When we went to the nearby mall, they had many of the chain restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway). I really liked this smoothie place because you know its not a flavor syrup they put in your drink.

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The food court was crowded because the World Cup was on. After we grabbed our snack/desserts, we found a table to sit and watch the game. Everyone had their team’s jersey on (mostly rooting for Colombia) and the focus was on the game. The last few minutes, the people that were cooking in the back came out of the restaurant to catch it. Couldn’t imagine what awaited them when they got back to the kitchen. Columbia won, and everyone for that team was chanting victoriously as they left the food court.

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It was pretty cool to watch the world cup in a different country. It’s a culture in itself, and being immersed in it is just one of the things I enjoy about traveling. Happy travels friends!