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Posts Tagged ‘Recife’

Brasil!

Brasil!

July 26, 2014

Well we’re finally back from our 35 day trip to Brazil to attend the World Cup so I thought I’d share some random thoughts on our visit.

The most common question I’ve received since I practically first set foot on Brazilian soil has been “How do you like Brazil?”. More on that one later.

I’ve been told by many people I’ve met over time that Brazilian people are some of the friendliest and nicest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. For the most part I can attest to this. Just about everybody we met was very friendly and helpful. However, the dark side is most people don’t really realize how innately capitalistic Brazilians are. Sometimes the overly helpfulness is because they have their left hand in your pocket. I’m not saying this to be mean, just candid. This happens everywhere in the world and it certainly happens in Brazil. Just letting you know sometimes that smile is there because you’re being sized up on whether you’ll pay $50 or $100.

My goodness there are a lot of beautiful Brazilian people. You can’t stand on a sidewalk swinging a dead cat over your head and not hit 12 beautiful people with one swing. These are the people you see on your television back home. However, there are tons of people here in Brazil that are not quite as beautiful. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m the ugly fat Gringo here myself so I have nothing to say. But there are an awful lot of people like me down here. Stated otherwise, normal people.

On the heels of the above paragraph Brazil has some of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes you’ll see before you exit this spinning ball of ice called Earth. We saw mountain after river after ocean after waterfall after you name it. The Brazilians are truly blessed with some natural beauty you don’t see just every day. However, Brazil has a serious poverty issue as well. You can see equally ugly vistas around any corner. People living in a lean to, sleeping on a cot under a business door jam to avoid the rain, walking through two feet of water in their homes while you pass by on a brand new multi-million dollar subway line right above. This country has a lot of poor and a lot of squalor and without getting too political about this I think the government needs to step in and do something because sometimes only something as big as the government can fix something that is that badly broken. Enough said.

We were here for the World Cup and make no mistakes: soccer is religion here. Not only is it religion here it is religion for just about every country that played here during this tournament. These people take this very seriously. They will cry uncontrollably at a loss while the next guy in line will beat your ass because you’re wearing the jersey of the team that just beat his. So it is all fun, well and good but make no mistakes. This is a serious affair when you attend the World Cup and the deeper teams go into the tournament the more serious it gets.

If you really like pepper on your food then you had better bring some with you in your suitcase. Carry it around in your pocket every time you think you might be eating a meal. These people have a serious aversion to pepper. Something to do with trading with another country in their history and only receiving pepper in return. In any case, you’ll have a really hard time finding it on any table in Brazil and if you ask for it you’re going to get a small jar of pepper sauce similar to Louisiana or Tabasco or Sriracha.

Along the lines of the previous paragraph if you have a strong affinity for things like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise then you might think about bringing those with you as well. If you ever find these on a table you’ll likely find a 1 gram packet of something that once upon a time might have resembled the condiment you’re seeking. Odds are pretty high it won’t even be there and if you ask for it you won’t get it. If you do, see above. It’ll be a 1 gram packet of suck.

If you are in a big city like Rio de Janeiro think long and hard about ever taking your cell phone out of your pocket while in public. The second you raise it to your ear I will just about guarantee you that you are now a made target waiting to happen. You might win, you might lose. In either case, I don’t think it is worth it. We saw this in action ourselves and it is quite fast and dare I say impressive to witness. If you really need to even carry your cell phone with you always step inside someplace to make or take a call or exchange text messages.

Along the lines of above plan on getting pickpocketed at some point in your trip. Take the necessary precautions to not get pickpocketed but plan on getting robbed at some point in your trip. If you do get robbed it’ll be done and over with and on you go. If you don’t, you’ll consider all things great and a wonderful vacation had. I don’t say this to be mean or negative but the reality is we stayed at several hotels across several cities and I heard several stories over the course of the trip of somebody getting robbed or pickpocketed. It just happens with a reasonable enough frequency here that you might get nailed so prepare for it and forget about it if it happens. All the normal rules apply. Don’t go anywhere alone, down dark streets, carry objects out in the open, wear any jewelry, dress flashy, etc… Same things you’d practice in any major city in the world. Some of the best advice I heard before this trip was “Don’t take anything with you in the morning that you want to bring back in the evening.”

If you’re flying inside the country TAM has made great strides in improving their fleet and service.  They are actually now part of the OneWorld Alliance they’re doing so well.  On the flip side Gol has fallen quickly and hard after their promising start.  I’d say avoid Gol at this point.  Azul is a bit of an outlier but I enjoyed both flights as they are a 2 by 2 leather seat configuration with plenty of room, live TV, etc…  Patterned after U.S. carrier JetBlue.  I also heard that if you can get it due to limited routes most Brazilians that want a quality experience use Avianca.

Brazilian drivers including your taxi driver love their cell phones while driving.  Make no mistake, everybody has a minimum of one cell phone stuck to their ear while driving, taxi drivers being professionals have two while they are driving.  Don’t fear for your safety.  They are properly distracted.  If they hang up the phone and see what you’re seeing while they’re driving they’d shit their pants in fear and kill you in a fiery crash.  Roll with it.  It is normal in Brazil.

So back to the original question. “How do you like Brazil?” The answer is I like Brazil just fine. It is a beautiful country filled with happy, tortured souls if that makes any sense at all. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Rio, explore the Iguazu Falls and visit Florianópolis which is the one city I wanted to visit that I didn’t get to visit on this trip. There are also a couple of minor areas like Paraty. So yes, I like Brazil and would go back. I’m just not in a hurry to return. After all, I have two more continents to visit.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

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Dan Inn Mar
Avenida Bernardo Vieira de Melo, 694 – Centro
Jaboatão dos Guararapes – PE, 54080-310, Brazil
Phone: +55 81 2123-4344

Dan Inn Mar View

Dan Inn Mar View

June 23 through 27th, 2014

Dan Inn Mar is located right on the ocean a short taxi ride from the airport.  They have a pretty good inclusive breakfast.  The staff is nice and tries their best to help you as best they can. The restaurant is serviceable in a pinch. That’s about all of the good I have to say.

This place is a hole. I seriously doubt anything inside or outside this hotel has been updated since originally built.  Everything is dated, in many instances worn, someplaces downright disgusting.

The night we arrived it rained.  Pretty hard at that.  Our room leaked.  There was water on the floor all along the outside wall of our room.  I could see a gap between the in wall mounted air conditioner and the outside so I’m guessing the water enters there.  I’m also guessing that is where the mosquitoes that were in our room entered as well.  I’m not sure on that one.  They may have opened the front door and let themselves in.

Our ancient refrigerator had a door that is covered in rust.

Our room is tiny.  It is so small that if one person sits in the one chair available in the room the other person cannot get around them without crawling over the bed.

Our room looks like a cross between an old, unremodeled Motel 6 room and a dormitory room.  More like the dormitory room in my opinion.  One long formica counter the length of the room except next to the door where the one rod is located for hanging your clothes.  No dresser, no drawers, no cabinets, nothing.  Just pile everything out on the counter and access it there.

Several patched but not painted surfaces in our room.

No security lock on the door.  Only the main card entry lock which anybody in the hotel could have access to while you’re sleeping or want privacy otherwise.

Mold in the bathroom.  Heck, mold next to the leaking outside wall for that matter.

Our toilet wobbles when we sit on it. Lord knows it is likely leaking onto the bathmat but then again the bathmat is next to the outside wall soaking up the rain water.

All of this for the bargain basement price of three times their normal rates.  Three times because the World Cup is in town.  Now I don’t begrudge a proprietor making money while he can.  After all, I’m a sole proprietor myself.  However, I must say it takes real gumption to charge three times normal rates and deliver substandard junk in return.  It is basically insulting.

Conclusion: I will not stay here again.  Period.  Under any circumstances.

NOTE: The next morning I did ask the hotel to move us since our room was leaking and they did comply. The replacement room was nicer but still very much dated and when it rained hard the next night it did manage to blow through the in wall mounted air conditioner unit. That was the last time it did leak into our during our stay.

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We’ve been either traveling or in most cases completely without Internet for almost four days now. So instead of making four back to back posts I’m just going to throw it all together. Especially since we’ve done nothing but travel and hang out in our hotels while it rained. Rained everywhere we’ve been. Flooded as well. This is easily the trip with the most rain and flooding I’ve ever experienced to date.

June 25, 2014

Recife View From Our Room

Recife View From Our Room

Today is Day 15 here in Brazil. Guess what? The internet was down almost all day again today. Thus the late posting today about yesterday and this one coming to you late as well.

[it went down yet again before I could even hit the Publish button on this post]

By the way, it’s still raining off and on again. We seem to be plagued by rain on this trip so far. Oh well. So be it.

Spent the day making the best of it. Had breakfast. Patiently waited on internet that didn’t materialize. Walked the beach between rain sessions. Also squeaked in some pool time between rain sessions. Naturally we watched the games as well.

Internet finally showed up around 4PM local time. So we tried to cram in some work and internet play time while the sun was shining so to speak.

Finished off the evening watching soccer matches, dinner and TV before nodding off for the evening. Tomorrow is the big day. Game day. USA v Germany. Being a long time fan of Germany and a loyal American fan I’m obviously torn. I’ll wear my USA shirt and my Bayern Munchen hat in a nod towards Germany, my first love of this game. Game time is at 1PM local time tomorrow and it takes two full hours to get there if you know what you’re doing so we’ll be at it almost all day tomorrow.

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau.

June 26, 2014

Game Day USA v Germany

Game Day USA v Germany

GAME DAY!!!

Today is Day 16 here in Brazil. Guess what? It is raining still. Not only is it raining it is flooding here. Based on some contacts with friends back home the flooding conditions here are national news back in the U.S. I can attest it is really bad. We had a very long trip to and from the game and we witnessed area after area, house after house with water inside. These poor people are suffering in my opinion. It is a crying shame.

Today is game day! USA v Germany. My two favorite teams in the whole world. Germany has always been my home team. Back in the 80s when I got seriously into International soccer the U.S. didn’t really have a team per se. So since my great, great…grandfather immigrated from Germany to the U.S. in the late 1700s I decided to adopt Germany as my home team. Then the U.S. finally put together a respectable national level soccer team so now I have dual citizenship so to speak when it comes to soccer.

After asking person after person we finally pieced together that the best way to get to the soccer stadium here in Recife is to take a taxi from the hotel to a metro station. Then you catch a metro south line into Recife and then transfer to a metro north line to the stadium. When you arrive at the stadium you get a metro bracelet that allows you to transfer to the bus that takes you to roughly 1/2 to 1 mile from the stadium. Easily the closest drop off point for the stadium unless you happen to be Seth Blatter. Total time? It takes two full hours each way to get to the stadium. So by the time you get there, get there early enough to see the teams arrive and warm up (roughly two hours), watch the game and then return you’re pretty much staring at a 10 hour day for one soccer match. That was a tough one considering that every train and bus you’re on is literally stuffed so full you absolutely cannot move an inch and while you’re in the stadium area you’re getting soaked by a monsoon.

It was a good day anyway. Why? I was in Brazil watching the U.S. soccer team play my beloved German team and both qualified for the knock out rounds. You really can’t beat that regardess of the typhoon blowing through the area.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau!

June 27, 2014

Today is Day 17 here in Brazil. Today is a travel day. We had no way of even remotely figuring out if we could get direct to Salvador and if we’d have a hotel when we got there since WE HAVE NO FREAKING INTERNET STILL so we decided to go ahead and catch our pre-booked 6AM (YAWN) flight to Porto Alegre. We hope to figure it all out when we get there and maybe if we’re lucky we can pick up tickets to the Germany v Algeria game while we’re in Porto Alegre. That would be a super sweet bonus. Besides, it is still raining in Recife. DUH!

No major issues with flights today other than they were WAY too early and the flight from Sao Paulo was inexplicably delayed for one hour as we burned to death in our seats on the plane waiting. Beyond that we arrived in Porto Alegre, picked up the rest of our tickets for the knock out rounds in the airport collection agency, caught a taxi to our hotel in Centro and got settled in.

This hotel in Porto Alegre is easily the nicest hotel we’ve stayed in since we’ve arrived in Brazil. It is a business class hotel with all the associated amenities and more important maintenance and upkeep. Our room is nothing special but it is clean and comfortable and reasonably updated. All of the common areas and facilities are very nice and the service good. I hope to write a formal review barring internet issues. Yes, that’s the one issue here so far. We’ve had internet issues here as well.

I couldn’t connect to the wireless from our room so I had to chat with the Brazilian ISP support for the hotel. I think she hardcoded my IP into the DNS. Not the way I would do it but it got me running in the room. Unfortunately I can’t work in the lobby, restaurant or bar any longer. However, Cynthia is the exact opposite. Can’t work in the room but can in the common areas. Bizarre for certain.

I was shivering cold this evening so we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant / bar and return to the room. By the time we got back to the room I was then sweating like a pig with fever. Just pushing myself and my system too hard for too long I guess.

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau!

June 28, 2014

Today is Day 18 here in Brazil. Guess what? The internet is down again for me and it is raining still outside. Go figure.

Breakfast at the inclusive buffet in the hotel. It was comparable to all the others to date. Nicer surroundings though although I’m still fairly found of my alfresco breakfast in Natale overlooking the pool and ocean beyond.

The balance of the morning was me using Cynthia’s laptop in the hotel lobby trying to book our travel arrangements for the rest of our knock out games to which we now have tickets in hand. What a frustration. Failed internet connections in the middle. Foreign websites that simply will not approve your American issued credit card. Other web sites that don’t have the same flights as the Brazilian airline sites causing you to extend your trip by three connections and six hours. Extortionary air fares. Why it had to take almost four hours out of my vacation to book two flights and one hotel is beyond me.

We watched the Brazil v Chile game with the locals in the bar. That was fun! Man I’m glad they won that penalty kick shoot out. Otherwise I might have feared for my life!

Dinner tonight was at Seasons Global Cuisine and Tapas. Fairly highly regarded. I’ll try to post a review later.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau!

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June 24, 2014

Today is our 14th day here in Brazil.  Our first full day here in Recife. We arrived here in Recife pretty much this morning.  By the time we got off our flight, got our bags, waited for a taxi, drove to the hotel, checked-in and unpacked it was right at 1AM.  That is pretty late for this old body.

Our hotel is in the beach area approximately 14 kilometers from town and the stadium. As a result you’re pretty much held hostage out here unless you want to pay a taxi a driver a lot of money to drive you all the way into town in stop and go traffic. You can also take a taxi back to the airport and then catch the metro train into town. I’m told the entire process is somewhere in the 2 hour hour range. Kind of hard to believe but I’m hearing this from fellow travellers staying here at the same hotel.

Speak of the hotel we’re staying at…don’t. It is a real hole in my book. I’ll do a write up on it later but in the meantime I complained about our previous room leaking rain so I was moved to a larger deluxe room that faces the ocean. It is quite a bit better but definitely a sub-standard room in my opinion. We’ll squeak by unto we get out of here Friday.

The breakfast was decent but I like it least of the three we’ve experienced so far. Something about runny eggs that set me off first thing in the morning.

We spent the entire morning working while we could. Then my laptop lost power and about the same time the wireless connection went down. So we watched the early game with everybody else in the hotel conference room. The hotel provided some bottles of soft drinks, popcorn and chips. It was cool watching with others.

The balance of the afternoon and evening were lunch and dinner in the hotel restaurant and watching soccer matches. It’s after 10PM and there is still no internet. The guy at reception says he doesn’t have it either. Maybe tomorrow.

Welcome to Brazil. Maybe tomorrow.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau.

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June 23, 2014

Welcome to Recife

Welcome to Recife

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SON DAVID!!!

He always seems to get stuck at home holding down the fort while we’re on the road someplace. Happy Birthday Son.

The day started slow. Breakfast at the hotel. Then it came…

…the vomit…

…here…there…everywhere. The floor, the toilet, my wife’s suitcase. Nothing was sacred. I guess it had to happen at some point. Fantastic that it happened on a travel day. Thankfully it was violent and quick. After well over an hour my stomach seems perfectly calm.

Today was a travel day. A long travel day. We’ve basically been on planes, in airports and riding in taxis all day today. So there really isn’t anything to report other than we’re finally here in Recife for about four days. We’re here to catch the Germany v USA game later this week before we head off into the knock out rounds.

A couple of interesting notes about our travel today.  When we landed in Brazilia for our transfer Brazil had just won their game.  The city was brightly lit and fireworks were going off throughout the city.  It made for a nice show as we were landing.  The later as we approached Recife we had an aborted landing.  That’s always a pucker up moment for most of the uninitiated on the plane.  Apparently his ground speed was too slow due to an unexpected head wind higher than anticipated so just under cloud break right above the ground he realized he was slow and short so back came the yoke and up roared the engines.  Second time was the charm.  He came in hot and flat and slammed that baby onto the runaway.  Full brakes.  We were landing this time!

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau.

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