Tag Archives: Brazil

Cruising with NCL from Rio De Janiero to Ihle Grande, Brazil

On this ten-day South American itinerary from Rio De Janeiro to Buenos Aires, Argentina, one night is spent in the Port of Rio which I really appreciated as it gives a little more time to explore this really groovy area. It’s fast become a hub for cafes, museums and street artists.

As always ports, railway stations and airports are a drawcard for unsavoury mortals, who unfortunately are attracted to unwitting tourists. Always take just the bare essentials when going out, such as enough cash for a taxi to return to your hotel/ship and eateries. Leave all other valuables in your safe. Also take a business card with the address of where you are staying so the driver will know where to drop you off. Additionally, take your room key out of the little pocket folder with your room number on it, just in case you lose it allowing undesirables access to your accommodation.

Heading out of the port was a bit wild with the horn blowing and saying bye to RIO – but hey when you’re inside enjoying a wine and some delectable goodies no one seems too worried …

And this is just the entrée in the A La Carte La Cucina – yum! There are some dining options which do have a cover charge, but you have to treat yourself every now and again.

Our first stop – Buzios is a simple fishing village until the early 1960s when it was ‘discovered’ by Brigitte Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend.

It’s now one of Brazil’s most upscale and animated seaside resorts littered with boutiques, fine restaurants and posh posaudas.

Having the tenders shuttle back and forth made an easy day because once you’ve had your coffee and shopped around, you could then go back and enjoy the activities onboard.

Next day the same process and a visit to Ihle Grande in Brazil allowed us to visit places along the coastline I might not have done so on a road trip.

Hard decisions need to be made each day!

I can take a hint, but it’s a little too early for me.

Really lovely place to visit with tourists coming from all over the globe. Ihle Grande remains largely undeveloped and for almost a century it was closed by the Brazilian government to free movement or settlement because it first housed a leper colony and then a top-security prison.

And now for our first city port whereby tenders are not needed here in the port of Santos (Sao Paulo). The Brazilian city is also home to the Coffee Museum where coffee prices were once negotiated. There is also a football memorial dedicated to the city’s greatest players which includes Pelé, who played for Santos Futebol Clube.

I’d recommend take a shore excursion from Norwegian Sun’s tour desk for an informative day as there’s quite a few sites to visit here. Otherwise taxis are about $10.00 USD one way into the central city area.

Lots of street art abound, there are buses which run into the main bus and rail Terminal and costs about $1.00 USD for a one-way ticket.

Here we are at the Coffee Museum in Santos, the architectural style and splendour houses the history and importance of coffee in the golden years of the coffee trade in Brazil and locally.

Many of the exhibits are beautifully restored and visitors can appreciate what does goes into making a great coffee – past and present. There’s also an Auction Room where it was the setting of the daily price for bags of coffee until the 1950s.

The Museu Do Café at the entrance of the building is a must if you’re a coffee aficionado and wanting to admire the collection of stained glass along with a number of paintings by Benedicto Calixto.

A walk around the city reveals a lively vibrant atmosphere with small markets in the centre.

Many buildings have been kept in their original state with no evidence of modernising it by developers.

When you’re a little tired of walking, take the historic tram ride around the perimeter of the city and enjoy the local sites.

Next port – Punta Del Este, Uruguay after two days at sea with Norwegian Sun.

I know at the Captain’s Cocktail Party everyone wants a photo with the Captain, but on this occasion Claudia who is in charge of Customer Services is also a very important staff member to my way of thinking. Considering all guest’s needs are taken care of and issues dealt with on an immediate basis, it makes the difference between having a great cruise or a mediocre one.

And at the end of the day, you’ll be greeted by one of these funny little animals which have taken up residence on your bed while you were out!

Cuba to Rio De Janeiro – NCL Norwegian Sun’s Cruise

Leaving Cuba wasn’t easy but I’ve no doubt I’ll be returning to a different country in the future.

Arriving and leaving Havana with LATAM was seamless and onto Lima for great connections to other destinations within South America. I’m off to Rio De Janeiro for a few days before taking a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line down the east coast to Argentina.

LATAM has been my airline of choice every time I’ve visited South America, not just because they are part of the Oneworld Alliance, but they have a great network and numerous destinations to choose from. The service onboard is exceptional with all meals and drinks being included. The experienced crew were extremely helpful and English spoken perfectly. I really like their uniforms as well which are stylish and look quite professional.

Heading into Christmas in RIO is very much what it’s like at home in Australia – hot, hot and hot. Taking a walk along Copacabana beach allows you to enjoy some of the most incredible sand sculptures, and then when you feel thirsty, try some of the agua de coco straight from the coconut.

I love Copacabana Beach, it’s one of the best and most famous – not just for Brazil but it’s world renown.

Great for people watching too, especially with the mix of bike riders, dancers and games being played on the sand.The view to the left of Copacabana beach is the towering Sugar Loaf Mountain and while the beach runs for 2.2 miles (4 km) in an east west direction running from Postos Dois to Posto Seis there’s plenty of other sights to see. Stop by one of the several beach bars and enjoy a gold cup of chopp (draft beer) and refeicao (herbed meat and fried onions).

Or you might just stumble across the commemorated song/music writer Jobim. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova jazz style and one of the most memorable songs ever written – Garota de Ipanema. In English ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes.

Think this sculpture may have had his head and toes rubbed a few times.

From the beach and on the right is Copacabana Fort which dates back to 1914. It houses the Army Historical Museum and worthy of a visit with plenty of cafes and restaurants looking back over to the waves pounding the beach and swimmers alike.

Football is the most popular sport in the country, it’s well respected and defended by the adoring locals. Just don’t mention Argentina … In fact, some employees are even given time off to watch important World Cup matches when Brazil is playing.

And if you can’t make it to the Mardi Gras held in February each year, don’t panic, there’s festivities going on most weekends in Rio De Janeiro along the beach. Music, dancing and performers showcasing in their best frocks – doesn’t matter it’s over 30 degrees Celsius here early in December – just a great vibe all round.

Now it’s time to head to the port and I’m taking the light rail VLT which is easy enough and slices through the traffic. VLT do Rio de Janeiro or VLT Carioca, is a 30 km (18.6-mile) light rail system linking the region to the subway, ferries and bus stations. The project covers seven neighbourhoods spread out over five million square meters (1.9 million square miles): Centro, Santo Cristo, Boa Saúde, Gamboa, São Cristóvão, Cidade Nova and Caju.

Buy your card for about BSL3.00 and then top it up. One sector is about BSL3.70 regardless if it’s bus, train or light rail. The port for ships to dock is one of the last stops and you just walk over to the check in area.

Please note: Australian passport holders require a visa to enter Brazil and also must pay a Reciprocity Fee online to enter Argentina prior to boarding.

There’s my ship! Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun which has one of those itineraries I’ve wanted to experience for a very long time. I’m heading onto this passenger cruise ship which carries just under 2,000 passengers and wondering what I’m in for over the next ten nights. Yes, I know I’ve been selling cruises for many years but this is my first cruise on this size ship. Nervous excitement? Yes definitely now that I’m looking at her and wondering about my upcoming journey.

Balcony cabin is perfect with space in the centre which is what I like personally; even with hotel rooms. Ok, I know I’ve had a nana nap and the staff in the evening tidy up the cabin which is really lovely with all those funny towel impersonations of different animals. So far, so good.

A lovely gesture from the Captain and a most welcomed treat … Lots more blogging coming up from this cruise. Stay tuned as we sail down the coastline towards Buzios and Ilha Grande in Brazil in my next blog post.