Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I know dear Reader, you came to my blog looking for various tour information and you are not wrong, you will find all my thoughts and ideas about places in Brazil, what to do in Rio and all my steps as a tour guide in Rio de Janeiro. But...this is my personal space to express and share facts of life and also a good way for you to get to know even better, so you will be very familiar with me and our tour will be a great success.
All the people who know me, they figure out that I am a CAT PERSON, and we have a cat, her name is Kikinha. Most of my guests become very close friends, and we are always in touch. Linda and Pat came to Rio for the first time more than one year ago when we lived in Copacabana. She was introduced to Kikinha and she took a picture of her.
Time passed, we moved to another neighborhood, we came to Tijuca, no so far from the beach and way better quality of life, and suddenly FEDEX came into our front door with a package. And Linda, our very dear friend from MASSACHUSSETS, who is a very talented painter gave to us one of the most important gifts of our lives...a painting with Kikinha's portrait.
I love paintings and I am a great fan of many painters I know, and I am so honored to have Linda Lee as an important part of my life, and also she is part of Marcone's life.
Marcone and I took this picture exactly in the day we got the package with this marterpiece. Linda knew how to catch Kikinha's attitude with perfection. I have to confess that when I opened the box, I instantly got in tears...a real confirmation that my work brings me so many incredible moments when we welcome spectacular people!
And guess what???? LINDA CAME AGAIN!!!! And I know that she will always be present in our home, in our lives and in our hearts...She is a Rio's frequent visitor and every trip we go do different places in this vast country called Brazil. I always wanted to have a picture with Linda and her painting...Criation and Criator all together in a photo with me and Marcone in our own home. Three feelings, pleasure, honor and prestige to have such a wonderful friend, together with ANOTHER wonderful friend Pat.
They came here in Tijuca before the second part of our adventure...in our way to Guapimirim and Teresopolis. August 2014 was marked as a very important month of the year.
Thank you Linda, for your everlasting joy, your sweet presence and solid friendship.
Last but not least...my sweet and caring friend Pat, Linda's business and travel partner and faithful friend, also came for the second time. And we had a blast...And dear reader, this pictures is for you to see that we always choose amazing places. We had our picnic with all the privacy in the world...endless nature, Linda, Pat and myself!!! What else can we ask for????
Having Pat in our home, sharing the adventurous days with her company and sharing all the best wine and beer and also for Dinner is a BLESS. I get a lot of life inspiration just for the fact that she is near!!! For the second time we had the great honor to see her again, and more will come in this blog because we have many things to tell...the our adventures in Paraty and Guapimirim!
I love you both and deeply thanks for everything you have done to us!
LOTS OF LOVE,
Tour Guide and Travel Planner
Monday, August 18, 2014
Impossible to translate in words endless beauties, very hard to express all the love I have for this land. Maranhão for me means ADVENTURE. Yes, Brazil has to remain forever in your mind and I am here to make it right! I know that Brazil has several places to make you fall in love with this land! I try hard to give you all this passion when you visit my Land.
Maranhão is not in the famous lists of PLACES TO GO in South America. But I want to be the only one to recommend you to spend days exploring this new destination in Brazil.
This destination is called LENÇOIS MARANHENSES. Starting with some days in a remote village called SANTO AMARO. This little tiny spot in Maranhão will give you one of the most fascinating places in the World.
When I think about Maranhão my heart smiles. Maranhão keeps the big surprise that Brazil can offer, and it is time for the World to figure out. Long deserts full of sparking blue lakes, a place that preserves the real amazon identity. Everything is there for you to realize that our planet is deeply marvelous! Maranhão is the place for intrepid travellers, it is a destination for nature lovers. The Amazon and the tropical beaches of our virgin north east coast meet there!
Maranhão is a mix of two region...NORTE (North) and NORDESTE (north-east) so it is very rich in diversity, culture and geography. One part is the Amazon where I love exploring the flooded forests of Alcântara and Cururupu, another part glorious ocean beaches like Raposa with a fantastic chain of mangroves, Caburé that is bathed by a incredible river called Preguiças and the Atlantic Ocean, so many beauty to die for!
One of the paradises of Maranhão is called LENÇOIS MARANHENSES...After Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls...this region is the most beautiful spots in Brazil in my opinion and Canada and USA has not discovered this land yet!
I always go there for visiting some relatives, friends and also searching for new tour destinations, as you know I work in all over Brazil and I give special attention to Maranhão as it is a very unknown place also for brazilians.
I am very passionate for Brazil, I am so lucky to be part of this wonderful country and so happy to be able to share so many places and knowledge with my visitors, thanks to this I have wonderful friends from all over the World!!
This trip to the wild north east coast can be extended via 4x4 cars where you will get to know amazing cultures, incredible gastronomy and of course lots of diverse attractions of this magnificent country called Brazil. I have lots of local partners in the EMOTIONS TRAIL that can make your life easier when travelling in places in Brazil where guides like be are necessary, the language barrier will not be a problem when myself or any of my trusted guides will be there waiting for you!!!
This adventure can take between 3 and 8 days exploring the inmost part of the brazilian coast. This tour will remind you a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC experience. You can start this dreamt journey in the historic city of São Luis, capital of Maranhão State and end in the colorful and happy city of Fortaleza.
Count on me and my tourism partners in this new travel possibility. I am always ready to keep Brazil part of your travel plans!
Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner
Monday, August 4, 2014
This is one of the days that you realize that 24 hours is not suficient...being with Holly and Haylee was a blessing prestige...good humour, intelligence, loud laughs and high energy every single second. They came highly recommended by the Romeros (wonderful Seattle friends) so when I have such a task I must do it no matter what...and I did...I try to show to the girls my favorite spots of Rio. There are many favorite spots so I have to choose my top best, so our one day adventure in Rio just started. I really wish more days...so girls you got to promise me that we will meet several times in Brazil and for sure when I finally get to the States we will write the book RAFA ADVENTURES IN UNCLE SAM'S LAND....
When I say favorite places...Niteroi is the top first in my list...so we went directly to Niteroi, beautiful city in the other side of Guanabara Bay...lovely mountainous coast and Holly is now living in Brasilia, so I had to show her that Oscar Niemeyer liked the beach and specially Niteroi and here he built a wonderful building...the MAC - MUSEU DE ARTES CONTEMPORANEAS. The project respects the surroundings and the views from there are just breathtaking and this picture that you are seeing right now was to prove that in a contemporary art museum we can make CONTEMPORARY PHOTOS...so you can consider myself a "work of art"....
A visit to Niteroi is not perfect if you do not go to my super, hyper, ultra favorite spot in the city...the scenic Parque da Cidade on Viração Hill...it is our paragliding school where my friends there is like family...there is the place where I throw myself to the endless sky and I find my moments of peace...This is how you feel when you jump from the cliff and explore the clouds with the paraglider...we have amazing instructors there that can give you this priceless emotion. From this viewpoint you can see all over Rio in front of you, it is always a wonderful moment for all the guests that visit this place...it is considered "Rafa Secret"
And just to make this visit to Niteroi complete we went to the LA CREME DE LA CREME of our ocean beaches in this northern side of Rio State...we got to Itacoatiara. One of the less know wonderful beaches of Rio, so if you are a beach person, we should explore this side of Niteroi that holds many different surprises...
I am a black and white photo fan so I made this picture with the girls and the incredible views of Itacoatiara.
Holly was so happy to be in Santa Tereza (maybe not the Lobster) when we had lunch in the traditional sea food restaurant Sobrenatural, indeed one of the main names in the local Gastronomy, Santa Tereza, no doubt has the best restaurants in Rio. Sobrenatural came highly recommended and I could not say no to my princesses; and for the record, I love that restaurant too...that was a LOBSTER massacre!!! :))))
And of course when you are in Santa Tereza we have fun with the street art in the neighborhood. Santa Tereza is a charming place in Rio, the first portuguese settlement and so close to the famous steps of Selaron.
Since the artist's death this unique place has been abandoned, the city ignores the place which is one of the amazing attractions of Rio de Janeiro, but I keep taking my guests to see the creation of a very good friend of mine, this painter and sculptor Jorge Selaron which memory should never be forgotten.
Muito Obrigado Girls, for your delightful company, thanks to open your heart for a everlasting friendship, I am honored to have met you!!!
Tell to everyone that one day with Rafa can be the high light of any trip to Rio de Janeiro, I will always be here to show you Rio with my soul.
LOTS OF LOVE,
Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner