Saturday, August 21, 2010
Rio de Janeiro
August 18, 2010
Well, we can’t believe it, after all the worry about excess weight and excess baggage we got through with no problems with our last flight from Curitiba to Rio! Sergio told us not to mention any word about excess baggage or weight as we each approached the counter. If I haven’t mentioned in earlier blogs about Sergio, our tour leader from Dnipro Gold, he is absolutely amazing…this man knows everyone in all of Brazil! The airline staff working the counter when we checked in happened to be past students of his, as he teaches tourism in Brazil and they all knew him. He just mentioned that he would return with gifts for them at a later time and would repay the favour. Thank you Sergio!
We had a short flight to Rio and only one mishap with luggage. It seems that Travis Boyde’s luggage fell off the luggage transport vehicle and was rode over by the vehicle…over and over again. We all picked up our baggage and Travis was missing his, there was one piece of luggage that kept going around the luggage belt but it was all wrapped up with plastic and taped up. We finally checked this last piece and sure enough it had his nametag on it. His suitcase was in shreds and major damage to some clothing. Thank goodness that it was not his costume bag. A claim was done and a new suitcase delivered to the hotel.
We checked into our hotel, the Golden Tulip, located right on the famous Copacabana Beach. We checked in and had a brief group meeting to review safety. We knew instantly as we arrived in this city that there was a ‘buzz’ of excitement in this city and we were all very excited for what we were going to experience in Rio. Most of the group went wandering about near the hotel for a bite to eat and we were all told to stay off the beach when it was dark.
August 19, 2010
We departed early in the morning for a tour of the city. We then went to visit one of the seven man made wonders of the world, the ‘Christ the Redeemer statue’ that is located on top of one of the mountains in Rio. The views were spectacular and the monument was absolutely amazing. We rode a train to the top of the mountain where we had the chance to walk up to the monument and take in all of the views of the city. We were all very impressed.
We then went for lunch to Espaca Brasa Restaurant, and had some of the best seafood of our trip so far…and of course more buffet and barbeque.
After lunch we toured the famous ‘Sugar Loaf’ mountain and took many sky trams up to get to the top. The views were once again spectacular and we all had a great time. The best part of Rio was that we finally had warm weather…it now felt like summer.
After our long day of tours we returned to the hotel. Some people went to the local night market, which was located right in front of our hotel, which runs from 9pm until 1am. Sergio organized a ‘wrap up’ party for the group in a very popular night club. We all took cabs to this club and experienced Brazilian jazz music. Full horn section and anywhere from 8 to 11 musicians playing at one time. It was not your typical night club that we would experience in North America, with a DJ, but rather live Brazilian bands playing and everyone listening, dancing, and enjoying. The building where the club was situated was beautiful; a three story building, full of antiques, collectibles, and very interesting artifacts…almost like a museum. Viter all gathered on the third storey of the building and ordered food and drinks. We later found the dance floor and all had a great time.
August 20, 2010
BEACH DAY! We finally had a chance to sleep in and have absolutely no plans! We all had breakfast and found our space on the beach right out our front door. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky, and the setting was magnificent. We all felt that we were on a tropical island. Many people body surfed, sun tanned, shopped, walked the beach and shopped with the local vendors. They sell everything from cooked shrimp, clothing, jewelry, hats, belts, local crafts, watermelon and icecream…plus much more. It was a great day, with great weather and a wonderful end to our trip. In the evening we all celebrating the end to a great trip. Many went to Ipenema Beach or walked nearby for dinner and visited the night market once again. There were many toasts made to salute a great tour.
As our blog comes to an end, we have so much to reflect upon. We have all made some wonderful new friends with the Ukrainian community here in South America. It was so strange and so beautiful to be in a foreign country, where we do not understand the language, but we truly felt at home. We made so many new friends in Argentina and Brazil, many people who we will now keep in touch with via facebook or email and we feel so blessed to have come in touch with. This has been an experience of a lifetime which all of us will hold dear to our hearts for a very long time. Not only has Viter grown and bonded closer together as a company though out this trip but the friendships that have been made within the company and abroad will last a lifetime. We have missed Tasha dearly on this trip, but have been so excited for her and Michael and Marco and have kept the company up to date with their blog. We cannot wait to come home and meet the new addition to the Orysiuk family and hope that we can bring Marco on a Viter tour very soon. We all look forward to meeting Marco and welcoming him to our Viter family!
It has also been a joy to be embraced by the community here in South America. What an incredible experience it has been to watch Les and Lesia and the entire company be embraced by everyone. The dancers and the choir have been a huge success and we are all so proud of the vision that Les and Tasha and Lesia have had to get us where we are today.
I want to thank Shelley Samycia for ALL of her incredible work with our flight and travel details. The organization of our trip was truly recognized by all and greatly appreciated. We were probably the MOST organized group that Dnipro Gold has every experienced and we thank Shelley for this! She even did some work for us while we were on the trip. We were just sorry that Shelley and Laura were not on our trip and they were so truly missed as well!!!
We had a fantastic group of parents on this trip. They all worked hard to make this the most positive experience for everyone. From acting as security, to backstage and costume assistance, wake up calls and late night room checks…these parents did it all. A great team effort and a joy to travel with. We all had a great time with this group and can’t imagine the trip without them.
It is so hard to say goodbye to new friends that we have made on our trip… but the hardest is to say goodbye to Sergio. I know that all of us that traveled on this trip can surely say without a doubt that he has been AMAZING! Sergio was with Viter 24/7, always keeping us on schedule, keeping us entertained, making sure we were happy and most importantly making sure were all having a good time. We have ALL made a friend with him and can truly say that we have never met a man who has ever worked so hard to make this the best trip possible for all of us. It is sad to leave him, our new friend, but we look forward to bringing him and his family to Canada soon where we can host him and take care of him as he took care of us.
We leave this beautiful country today. I know we are all coming home with many new experiences that we cannot wait to share with our family and friends.
See you all soon.
Viter Dancers and Choir, South America 2010