Sunday, June 21, 2015

A DAY IN THE SOUL OF RIO - SANTA TERESA - SELARON - OLD DOWNTOWN - FAVELAS


We can spend a whole day visiting the soul of Rio, a Rio with great daily life routine where we can take many street photographies and so many other places that we can explore. It will be one day that we will not only see touristy places, we will explore most of the bohemian neighborhoods of Rio such as the portuguese colonial neighborhood of Santa Tereza which is also known as the ARTIST DISTRICT because of the cultural centers, many artist chose Santa Teresa to live, also many street graphitis almost in every corner and Santa Teresa likes to welcome the visitor with the best Gastronomy in town!!!










Not so far we can take pictures of the old and informal vagabond architecture of Lapa and its famous stairs of Selaron, one man that for almost 30 years ago changed the whole life of this neighborhood, with his amazing colorful mosaic of tiles that peoople through all the years has given to him...and the whole stairs got covered with tiles from all over the Planet. Selaron when he was alive used to talk with the visitors and sell his art. Now that he is gone, his stairs are there to make your trip special because Selaron Stairs is one of the most important symbol of Rio.




The Centro of Rio (Downtown) is not so far and we can see some of the main monuments of Old Rio like the Cinelandia Square with its majestic Opera House, the magnificent Teatro Municipal, and we can explore the little city by the Ferry with narrow portuguese streets, the square with the Royal Palace, the State Congress and the stunning Candelaria Church built in 1775. We can also have the chance to see the bew harbor place, still in construction but it gives you a different photography perspective of Rio.





And to go deep into Rio's life we will focus on social life and turn the page of a glorious day in Rio we can visit some of the main favelas in Rio that could be in Tavares Bastos, the first pacified Favela in Rio and if the authorities allows us, we can visit the colorful Santa Marta, a favela that has some colorful houses. We should pay attention about any warning coming from the police because Favelas now can have some popular riots which I think it is not a good idea of us (outsiders) to be there when any kind of problem happens!!


My name is Rafael Torres Lopes, guests and close friends usually call me as RAFA, so when you write to me, please say Rafa, I am a tour guide for 15 years now and I am prepared, happy and honored to welcome you and make any trip to Rio and also any trip to anywhere in Brazil and the rest of South America easier...all the places we will visit together will be like home. I always say that much more than a guide, I am your friend here. All the tours have the best place where you can experience the real spirit, the very free soul of our daily life combining beauty and nature. Humbly speaking I am an enthusiastic brazilian and I love to give you this same enthusiasm when you visit my beloved land for the first time.

Thank you very much, 

Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner

Friday, June 19, 2015

THANK YOU ROTARY - ABSOLUTELY GREAT


Until May I have never heard about Rotary...well, yes I heard something but I have no idea about what they are and what they do...Then thanks to Ana Lavigne, my good friend and perfect tour guide in Salvador, I had my FIRST Rotary family...Bruce came and I tried to coordanate their trip to Iguazu Falls and I was soooo pleased to welcome Bruce and the folks here in Rio, and from Bruce, I could open the gates of my heart to Sue, Colleen, George and Dana. They met more than a guide in me, they came across with Rafa, a brazilian ambassador of so many nationalities which job is making Brazil so great that anyone could fall in love with.

With them, I learnt that Rotary is a big resource to bring peace, cooperation and respect among people, Rotary is concerned to make this World a better place to live, and I am a GLOBE LOVER, and I do not miss any chance to do something, to be someone that at least have done something to improve people's life. 

And it seems that Roterians love to help Roterians, so Bruce started talking about his experience in Rio and sent me Wayne, Lisa, Liz and Jamie...more fun in Rio, more laughs in Rio and new places to discover and thanks to them I learnt so many things about life that we had a real culture exchange in such few time. Not only I had all this recomendation that Bruce (the Organizer) gave me Michael and Noel and their wives to Marcone Lima, my immediate (and best) tour guide to Rio, and Marcone had the great chance to learn more about Rotary that has the power to change people's mind and I confess I am starting to think differently about many topics in life! Thank you again folks!!!


With Bruce and my dear friends Sue, George, Colleen and Dana I could take them to Niteroi, a city that has a lot of myself, I grew up there and could show to the World that visiting Niteroi is a must see place in any trip to Rio and of course it was a NO BRAKE IN THE TONGUE tour, we talked about EVERYTHING with no censorship or any filters, so the two days touring in Rio was like 2 hours in Rio! :)



With Wayne and all the crew we had a One Fat Hen, a Couple of Ducks, Three Brown Bears, Four Running Hares, Five Fat Females, Six Sexy Siamese Sailors Solemnly Sailing the Seven Seas, Seven Serbian Serbs Simply Serving Serbian Syrup, Eight Egotistical Egotists Egotistically Echoing Egotistical Ecstasies, Nine Nubian Nudes Nimbly Nibbling Gnats Knuckles and Nicotine, Ten Tiny Tinsmiths Tearfully Tinkering Tin Teapots Till Dawn, Eleven Lovely Lesbians Lovingly Lapping Lukewarm Love, I Slit the Sheet, the Sheet I Slit, Upon the Slitted Sheet I Sit. Theophilus Thistledown, the Successful Thistle Sifter, in Sifting a Sieve Full of Unsifted Thistles, Thrust Three Thousand Thistles through the Thick of his Thumb. If then Theophilus, the Successful Thistle Sifter, Thrust Three Thousand Thistles through the Thick of his Thumb, See that Thou, in Sifting a Sieve Full of Unsifted Thistles, Thrust Three Thousand Thistles Not through the Thick of Thy Tongue TOUR.

Lisa, I am still VERY impressed!!! :) hahahahahahahah

We did NOT have a tour, we had a family meeting, strong friendship started in these two days, thank you folks, I hope I could give you the best of my Rio de Janeiro and I hope you and all the folks you know could always come to Rio, same happiness and new places will be waiting for you always!!!


Again, thanks to my big friend Ana Lavigne, from Bahia, recommend me Bill and we were discussing the best places to see in Rio, while we were conversing, he told me that his friend who worked with him in São Paulo's Rotary Conference also wanted a tour, and of course I said, please send this person to me; and this person was...OHHHHHHH...the mighty Toni Pabon...what a darling creature...it took TWO SECONDS and we became friends for life!!! Thank you Toni, you brought Wisconsin to my heart and I am sure your land will send me more people from this amazing State, and indeed keep on sending me, I had BILL afterwards! :) So proud to have met you, Toni and you know, Rio will always be a home to you. 


Another gift from Wisconsin...BILL FINALLY CAME and what we had super, ultra, hyper two funny days. I decided to make Rio even more special, because Bill first came to Rio in 2012...but I wasn't there!!! This time it was RIO WITH RAFA, so my misison was giving him a new profile of Rio and maybe a new look to Brazil, I found out a marvelous person, full of wisdom, a real philosopher and someone that in such a very few time taught me more about life. Thank you Bill for being so special and for giving light to so many people around you. We focused in Santa Tereza, Selaron Stairs and Niteroi. 

In Santa Tereza we walked through my favorite places and could experience a lot of laid back style of life. I could talk about my past talks with Selaron, a great man that designed a very unknown stairs between Santa Tereza and Lapa, and thanks to that, his stairs got the "face of Rio" and Niteroi, my sacred soil which I really adore!


Parque da Cidade...humbly speaking you will reach this place if you meet me, hahaha :) But the tour with Bill was the closing of an intense era of pure friendship where I could meet shining people, people that came to this World to change our lives. People who are always ready to improve your talents. I am much better since I met all this fellows...these fellows became a family I will always remember in my whole existance. THIS IS A VICTORY TOUR. 

A tour where we value much more our principles and we get stronger to follow any dream. I was honored to welcome each one of the rotarian friends I had and proud to have written many chapters in your TRAVELING BOOKS!

Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A TOUR WITH QUALITY OF LIFE - NOT A REGULAR GUIDE BUT SOMEONE JUST LIKE YOU LOVING TO WELCOME YOU


Every tour I lead has to be special, when you trust me to be your guide, I will not be only a guide...you are having an advisor that trully will tell you the best things to do and the best places to go, you will have a World of Suggestions that a regular tour WILL NOT provide you. And you are "buying" my tours, you will have more than touristic information, you will have a broad view of Rio and all over Brazil, I will help you with a lot of passion in your plans. You will have quality and someone (and many times even my team that your disposal) who are not interest to be a GUIDE (hey, look at your right, look at your left). 

Regular tours will take you to the classics and be sure in my places you go for shopping and many places you go for eeating lots of commisions will be hidden behind any ideas. A quality tour will take you to places where locals love to go, a quality tour will help you to AVOID ANY TOURIST TRAP.

All you will get is a lot of fun, a real experience with someone that does exactly what you want to do when travelling a foreign culture, discovering each flavor, meeting a lot of people and search for the secrets of every location we visit.

For this reason the prices are not as low and cheap than big companies will offer, but think about, you are also "buying" quality and exclusive attention from a personal background, not a COMMERCIAL background. 

The reason is simple...YOU DEAR READER, YOU DEAR GUEST are not a regular "good" for me, you are MARVELOUS PEOPLE that deserves to have a real and genuine experience when you come to Rio or any other part of Brazil and South America that you are choosing my assistance.



When your work is your natural passion then it is very easy to make you happy, and happiness is all I focus in the several tours options that I have...we can plan one day, two days, three days and even a whole week!!! It is a family meetings all the time. Fun and amazing places are waiting for you...No crowded buses, no guides with microphones, only spontaneous laughings and a Brazil completely personal just for you!!! :)



Once I had one RAFA who loved to the treated like RAFA, and you know that when you come QUEEN ELIZABETH will be LIZ, POPE FRANCIS will be FRANCIS, This is what I mean when I talk about QUALITY TOURS!

Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner

A friend in Brazil