Monday, November 12, 2007

Churrascaria & Caipirinha’s in Rio

After a particularly successful recent transaction, the management team and their advisors decided to celebrate with a long weekend in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This extravagant weekend of suites on the beach in Copacabana, yacht trips, sightseeing, ginormous delicious meals (and the delicious churrascaria), aborted helicopter flights, and trips to a long-remembered Gelateria made for an experience to remember!

An intrepid group of 12 of us made the trek from Moscow, and the Company’s local representative put a huge amount of effort into making sure we were well-taken care of and coordinated some fantastic events. After arrival on Friday morning, a leisurely breakfast by the pool at the Copacabana Palace, including the first (of many to come) Caipirinha’s helped settle us into the tropical mood.

We then set off sightseeing, heading (eventually- our group was anything but punctual) to Corcovado (statue of Christ), and Pao de Azucar (Sugarloaf), which was of particular interest to me, since I hadn’t been able to visit on previous visits. That evening, we gorged ourselves on succulent churrascaria, never-ending skewers of every type of meat imaginable continuously brought to the table… Despite limited sleep and an inability to move after practically ingesting an entire cow, I felt compelled to investigate how Rio’s nightlife had evolved in the previous five years. I’m happy to report that although not exactly known for its nightlife, Rio now boasts some pretty chic and lively lounges and bars, although the club scene leaves a little to be desired.

The next morning, our armoured convoy (complete with security detail) headed for a helicopter tour of the city, however after strong winds made this infeasible, we headed to the marina, where a delightful 75-foot yacht awaited our crew. We spent the next few hours swimming, feeding, tanning (OK- burning) and drinking endless amounts of caipirinha’s moored among some island’s off Ipanema beach.

That evening we headed for a more haute-cuisine meal (personally I was looking for more churrascaria), followed by an authentic samba school, where the locals were samba’ing up a storm, and the local bateria (Brazilian percussion groups) were practicing for the upcoming Carnavale! After several ear-splitting and entertaining hours of this (assisted by 3Real full glasses of vodka/cachaca) we were again feeling the urge to hit some “real” nightlife, and hijacked one of the vans, and went looking for a club, accompanied by a somewhat intoxicated and enthusiastic local friend of one of our group.

Upon arrival at the next venue, things took a turn for the more challenging. Our local Company representative stated the area was too dangerous and wanted to leave, our security guys called for reinforcements, a member or two of our crew were looking for some alternative intoxicants, the police were hanging around the area, and it was pretty difficult to find a bathroom. This complicated mix of affairs led to us bouncing back & forth between the club entrance (without actually going inside) and the van for a full hour, until we finally called it quits and headed back to the hotel. The police weren’t done with us though, ordering us out of the van and resulting in extensive negotiations with our security detail. We were ultimately sent on our way, negotiations concluded and tail between our legs. There is a reason I generally prefer travelling incognito.

Our final morning was spent lounging on the beach, before an enormous final churrascaria at Porcao, the most famous of Rio’s churrascaria’s. After dispatching more caipirinha’s, what seemed like 37 cows, several lambs and pigs, not to mention an innumerable number of chicken hearts, we staggered to the airport and onto our flights back home. A highlight of the flight back was an impromptu tour of the new megajet Airbus 380, one of which was open for inspection at Paris airport.

A wonderfully decadent weekend in Brazil- admittedly a long way to go for a weekend, but what a weekend!

The photos are here.

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