The New York Times recent article, “Rio, With Eyes Open” by Jodi Kantor is a great read for anyone contemplating a visit to Rio de Janeiro. I’ve been there no less than a dozen times over the past 30 years so it brought back definitive memories, luckily most of them good. My first time flying down to Rio was on a Pan Am 707 from New York on a cold February night. I was in the middle seat in coach. No matter, the contemplation of experiencing a new city surrounded by beaches and mountains that I percieved as a sexy place was all I could think about.”
As soon as the taxi turned on to Avenida Atlantica I was overwhelmed. Just 10 hours earlier I was in snowy New York and now I was on one of the most beautiful beaches ever on a hot summer day with nearly naked tanned bodies all around me. What’s a boy to do? I wasn’t the least bit afraid but then neither was I when I moved to New York City back in the 70’s. That’s youth. Fear is a learned emotion and I guess I hadn’t learned it yet. In fact thinking back, a hint of seediness was exciting to me. I remember, as if yesterday, jogging along Copacabana and Ipanema. I was looking at those passing beautiful bodies and I can assure you I wasn’t thinking about whether or not I was safe or how clean the street was. I was quite the jogger and easily ran 5 miles or more every day at different times while taking it all in.
I didn’t have to think about it too long because shortly after a client on the right side of 60 called and asked if I thought he would have a good time there. He was traveling solo. I never met him in person so I asked him if he was fit. I was a little embarrassed so quickly said “I only ask that question because Rio is often best enjoyed on foot.” “It has night life, of course, but its so much a daytime city.” It didn’t take him long to say he wanted to go next week. After that it was easy. I knew his travel patterns and he wasn’t going to be flying down to Rio in a middle seat. I told him that there were only two areas to stay in. Copacabana or Ipanema. Staying anywhere else is like visiting New York and staying on Long Island. There are also only two luxury hotels and I think you should stay at both. Four days in each I said with extreme confidence. They are the Copacabana Palace and the Fasano.
They both face the beach and both are stunning and unique in their own way. The “Copa” is old world and grand. It has all the amenities including beach service, a spa, the best pool in Rio and great dining. The best breakfast in Rio is served here and always a scene. Fasano is Brazilian modern and in the chicest of neighborhoods and naturally on the beach. Rio Destination Guide on his iPad. “I edit it myself so if you find something wrong you know who to blame.” People like to blame people not company’s.
Well, he went and returned. Told me he didn’t jog anymore as his knee was messed up (I smiled to myself) but that he swam every day and walked along the beach for miles. I asked if he thought Rio was geographically beautiful. He answered “it is and the people aren’t hard to look at either”. I said “Yes, I know and if you go back like I did you’ll find that Carioca’s don’t age either.”