Tag: tips

My FIVE Favorite Things to Do in Rio

I’m planning my next trip to Rio de Janeiro. Here are a few recommendations for first timers to maximize their experience in a Cidade Maravilhosa, “The Marvelous City”. 

(1) Visit the beaches…
Rio de Janeiro arguably has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And there is something for everyone: public, crowded, secluded, white sand, pink sand, surrounded by mountain, smack dab in the city, full of activities, chilled out. Whatever type of beach you want, Rio probably has what you’re looking for. Also on the more populated beaches, there are vendors selling and renting everything you need: umbrellas, chairs, wraps, sunglasses, bikinis, food, beverages. And feel free to haggle. I personally love to rent an umbrella, lay on my canga (sarong), order a cocktail and grilled shrimp from a beach vendor. And yes, I do wear the teeny tiny Brazilian bikini. When in rome… or better, when in Rio.

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(2) Eat the Galetos…
Not gelato (the Italian style ice cream), but galeto– which is Portuguese for a young/small “rooster”. They are smaller than you expect because they are young and aren’t pumped with steroid. They are served just like chicken and they are everywhere in Rio. These birds are typically roasted and then grilled with spices and herbs. And because they aren’t typically expensive, this is the perfect food to eat before you go out or when you’re coming home from a night out. On my last trip, this was nearly a daily thing. LOL.
grilled chicken


(3) Visit the Samba School Parties…
I have a deep love and appreciation for Brazilian samba. And I respect the pomp and circumstance of the Rio samba schools. Samba Schools are basically community centers that teach music, dance and costume design in order for the community to compete in the the carnival parades at the sambadrome, which airs on television. The winning schools get recognition, money, etc. Anyway, each school has private rehearsals all year to prepare for carnaval, but each week they have at least one public rehearsal to raise money, which is basically the best samba party you’ll ever attend. Live drums, the best dancers, great music, the occasional celebrity appearance, drinks and food. It is an incredible experience– especially for first timers. They start around 10pm and go until the sun comes up again. That is NOT an exaggeration. Below is a video from my first trip to Salgueiro in 2014. Footage from other samba schools in 2016 coming soon!


(4) Take in all the Natural Beauty…
When you go see the touristy sights, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty. On the train ride up the Corcovado mountain to see the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) or when you take the bondinho (cable car) to see the views from Morro do Urca (Mount Urca) and Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)– you’ll agree that the views of the landscape, the wildlife, the vegetation and the water are gorgeous. Rio is naturally green and lush, but now it is pretty urban and in many areas visibly impoverished. So keep your eyes open. There are these amazing nature reserves; these areas that are well maintained. And there are other areas that have grown wild and remain untouched despite the urban sprawl around them. I especially like to look up at the trees as I walk the streets. You’ll see beautiful flowers and birds everywhere.
view from urca


(5) Hang with the Locals…
Brazilian culture as experienced in America is super different than the real thing in Brazil. Brazilians have a reputation for being very open, warm and inviting– and they are to a degree. But the reality is that people are people no matter where they are from, so it may take some time to crack the code. Keep in mind that Rio is a social place. You’ll often see people out in groups. You can have a great time with no Brazilians friends. You’ll have a better time if you make friends while there. But to have the ultimate experience, do whatever you can to meet people before you go and meet up with them when you’re there. They will probably introduce you to their friends and those friends will probably introduce you to their friends and so on and so on. Obviously the locals know the best parties and places that aren’t advertised on the internet. So with Brazilian friends you could experience a Rio de Janeiero that you never knew existed. Ask your friends about a sarau, a samba de raiz, a baile funk, a true Brazilian churrasco, etc. Below is a pic of Edrick, Carlito and I with three Brazilian friends.
friends in rio


(6) [Honorable Mention] City Walking
This gets honorable mention because its one of my favorite things to do in any city outside of Atlanta. I love to walk around and get a feel for a city, by experiencing the sights, sounds and smells. Yes the smells– sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but it always makes memories. On our first trip to Rio, I walked more in the first day than I had the whole month before. My feet felt like they were gonna fall off. But I survived and repeated the same thing the next day with more comfortable shoes. LOL. Videos to come! Share this post with your friends before you travel!

Thank you for reading. Go ahead follow me on social media. And of course by the book below. It is so much fun to read. And it will come in handy when you travel to Brazil. Its not just dirty words, there are REAL LIFE common phrases in it. Thanks, friends!

Food & Wine Festival 2017| Pre Event Prep

Your first time at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival tasting tents can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for and maximize your time!

Atlanta Food Wine Festival 2017I’m super excited to be attending my third Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, June 1-4, 2017. My first time attending, I was not at all prepared for what I experienced. After picking up my tickets, I walked to the tasting tents, but then the 30% chance of rain turned into a torrential, monsoon, downpour and deluge! It got so bad that those of us waiting to get onto the festival grounds were scuttled into a nearby garage to wait it out. There were already people inside the tasting tents– also waiting out the rain, but with very delicious food. To add insult to injury, my fresh twist out was ruined (it had turned into a completely frizzy afro) and my makeup was basically steamed off and melting down my face. Plus, my feet were soaked. It was a mess. But once we got inside, it got better. I was surrounded by food and drinks, but I had no idea how to get to it all. I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned over the last two years.

Tasting Tents:

  1. Wear Comfortable shoes. Don’t just wear cute flats, wear COMFORTABLE shoes that you feel good about standing in for hours. There aren’t many tables and even fewer seats. In fact, dress comfortably in general. Check the weather and make sure you’re prepared.
  2. Bring a tote, sling bag or a small drawstring backpack with some essentials:
    1. small umbrella (just in case of rain)
    2. a hand towel (for sweat or to dry rain)
    3. wipes (for your hands)
    4. sunglasses or hat, whatever you need to be comfortable in the sun
    5. An empty water bottle– you’ll be able to refill it while you’re there and there will be plenty of other things to drink.
    6. Wine lanyard– google it and buy it on amazon. (see the link below)
  3. Hydrate in the week before. Don’t just drink water the day of or the day before. Proper hydration will keep you from having to stop and use the restroom every five minutes. The restrooms are usually the nice modular units and the line generally moves quickly, but who wants to use a public restroom over and over?
  4. Take an Uber or cab to and from the festival if possible. If you live far outside the city: park at your nearest Marta station, take the train to the station nearest the festival and take an Uber to the festival grounds. You don’t want to be caught in garage traffic or get a DWI.
  5. Make a plan: Look ahead to see if there are restaurants and restaurateurs that you want to check out.
  6. Don’t drink all the alcohol first. Mix it up. Eat then drink and repeat. Its easy to want to taste all the 

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