The past week I was hosting a whole new different kind of tourists. My over-traveled Russian- Jewish friend and her companion. I knew they were a different fish to fry when my friend took out a Michelin tourist guidebook to Rio, and started asking me about places I have never even heard of before and looking on Google Maps the best way to reach them. Hosting these folks was great and stressful at the same time. Great, because they came prepared knowing what they want to see, and many of the places were new and interesting to me. Stressful, because you have to keep up with high standards and sending them to the main tourist attractions doesn’t just cut it, plus they require in-depth explanation of background/history/context, so I had to put on an expert act at all times. Overall, we had some really good times.
The highlight of the whole experience, was a hike to the highest point in Tijuca Forest, called Pico da Tijuca, arriving to which turned out an adventure within itself as it was located deep inside this really huge national park. After huffing and puffing (given my poor state of health, stamina, and overall laziness) for over an hour, sporadically being pushed like a wooden block up the hill, I arrived in a semi-asmatic state to the top of the mountain. There, I could easily pretend I am inside an airplane as the panoramic view of the city was really from a bird’s eye. This place has to be one of those top 500 places to see before you die.
Getting back was an adventure within itself since the taxi didn’t want to come pick us up and we had to find a random guy to drive us back to civilization for a modest R$20. We were very lucky because otherwise we would have had to walk something like additional 5km to get out.
One of the questions I get asked most by friends and foes is “How are the Brazilian men?”. I normally don’t really have a good answer for this as I have not really been extremely impressed thus far. Last night I realized what I was doing wrong. I went to Club 00 inside the planetarium in Gavea and found myself, for a change, surrounded by scores of handsome, well dressed, well groomed and good dancer men. Of course, it was a gay party. This is what happened to all the interesting men in Rio. They came out. Oh well, in any case it was good fun. Sunday nights go to 00, for some nice cocktails and good dancing!