Sunday, March 15, 2009


More than a wine expert he is one of the most detailed photographers that I know, he knows all the techniques but above all he uses his soul on everything he shots! That is why he came to Rio and ask me to take him to the most unusual places in Rio de Janeiro for the best shots!
You can see many of his pictures in his webpage...
In this page you can also learn about his family history which is really interesting!!!
We had a blast in Rio and for sure we left a "taste" of asking for more!!! so I know there will be a second visit!!!
Thanks Wayne for words are very poor to describe how important and essential was your visit here...But something I can say, you helped hus to write our NEW HISTORY and you helped to tell the word that RIO IS ALWAYS WAITING FOR THE NEXT VISITOR!!!!
Rio is an astounding place visually, in its music and in its 12 million people - a way of life embodied in a city. Love of living life seems painted all over it. Being there, it feels nowhere near as dangerous as what is written about it. Having an excellent driver makes all the difference in the world when visiting Rio. Rafael was my driver and guide and I now consider him a friend. With his help and planning advice, I saw many things few tourists see and I covered a staggering amount of ground in a short period of time. I recommend Rafael highly - he's reliable, professional, well versed in everything "Rio", and his English is excellent. He is also one of those increasingly rare, genuinely nice guys. The kind of person you feel glad that you met in your travels.

On this, my first trip to South America, I spent three days in and around Rio and then two days 700 miles west at Iguaçu Falls. The summer weather was hot - around 90°F, but clear with no rain throughout the trip.

Day 1: I cleared immigration and customs in just minutes and met Rafael in the arrivals hall. After a quick turnaround at my hotel (JW Marriott Copacabana) we were enroute to Corcovado by 1pm. We stopped at a lookout point called Mirante Dona Marta while winding our way up through the urban Tijuca rainforest. The iconic 1931 art deco styled statue, Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is an imposing 100 ft tall and can be seen from all around the city. Descending through the Tijuca rainforest on the road of Paineiras, we passed by natural showers and the Cascatinha waterfall before crossing to the west side of the city to take a unique lagoon boat trip through the Marapendi Wetlands. This is a large, scenic "off the beaten track" series of islands and peninsulas where many Cariocas (locals) live. We saw lots of wildlife and upscale residences there before returning to Copacabana. My first day in Rio was a photographer's dream come true.

Day 2: Rafael picked me up mid-morning and we headed east to Sugarloaf, known locally as Pão de Açucar. There are two cable tram trips that took us up to the summit. The views at the top were great and Rafael was able to show me some less crowded spots down a short pathway for panoramic pictures. From Sugarloaf we headed toward Centro - the business district downtown, with a stop en route at São Bento Church, built in 1576. It has a very plain exterior, but a magnificent interior. It was then a short drive downtown to visit the Cultural Center of Banco do Brasil and the Candelaria Church, dating from 1727. We then drove north and east to Niteroi, across Guanabara Bay from Rio. We stopped at the Contemporary Art Museum, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and the colorful fishing village of Jurujuba before climbing up the steep grade to Parque da Cidade with its sweeping views across Guanabara Bay towards Rio. Before returning to Copacabana for the evening, I had my first Caipirinha along with a traditional Brazilian meal at Restaurante A Mineira in Niteroi across from the beach. My second day in Rio was a great mix of worthwhile tourist spots with places that only the locals know.

Day 3: Rafael picked me up around 10am and we headed to the Fort of Copacabana where mostly locals go. I had my first of several delicious Mate Cocidos (an infused tea drink) there. The fort is next to the rocks of Arpoador that mark the transition from Copacabana Beach to Ipanema Beach. We walked quite a ways down Ipanema before turning inland for a cold Brahma beer at the cafe/bar Garota de Ipanema, where Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote "The Girl from Ipanema" based on a 15 year old girl (now 64) who walked by each day, Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto. We then drove west on Niemeyer Road to the scenic gated community of Joa, then on through Barra da Tijuca and a series of beaches that few tourists ever see: crowded Recreio, surfers' Prainha and finally Abrico, where we enjoyed a leisurely late seafood lunch with a local crowd at a picnic table on the beach at Cabana Grumari. My last day in Rio was both a fitting end and a teaser to want to return and see more.

Wayne Mackey

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