My 2013 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise began with pretty much no issues. Our four hour flight from Newark to Houston (bulkhead
seats) were great. Not so great was the
guy sitting next to us who spilled his cranberry juice all over the place. (Not a drop on me!) One thing that bugs me is that if I am flying
a former Continental aircraft there are movies, hot food, etc. This was a former United one, so cold food
and an overhead monitor…and broken wifi.
As I say all the time: Air travel
varies little from bus travel.
I was a bit concerned with our connection in Houston, but we arrived
early and our flight departed just a little late. It was a good stroll after the flight.
We had bulkhead seats for our 10 hour flight, but this time the middle seat was open, so we had
extra room. The bonus was…because it was
me…a brand new baby sitting (‘er crying) next to me. This is where my Soul noise-cancelling
headphones (Usan Bolt edition – thanks to my daughter’s trying to give me some style), great music (I’ve been listening to a good bit
of country of late…especially Brad Paisley) and wine come in handy. After tending to some emails and doing some
writing, I settled in and slept really well.
The 10 hour flight wasn’t bad.
Passport control wasn’t too much of a hassle and the luggage started to appear
fairly quickly…but not our bags. Here we
go! So as I am getting “that” feeling a
nice woman said, “For some reason they placed some of the priority luggage over
there.” And there they were.
I usually hire a car to meet me at the airport, but in Rio it just
doesn’t make any sense. As soon as you
leave Customs, there are a number of taxi stands where you pre-pay for your
taxi with a credit card…and get a decent (not great) rate on currency
conversion. So for virtually no hassle
you have your car and a few real in your pocket. The trip to Copacabana Beach is about 40
minutes due to the traffic.
I must say that the ride in is rather disturbing. Poverty and graffiti is everywhere. But after you emerge from a long dark tunnel
you are in a different world:
Copacabana. There was record heat
today (100 degrees) so the Speedos were out, but I was not.
|Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
Staying at the Sofitel Copacabana is a treat. While it is located at one end of Copacabana, the hotel is beautiful, the staff is
incredibly accommodating and I did not mind the upgrade to a one bedroom suite
with a great view of the beach and an Executive Lounge that is well-stocked and
|Christ the Redeemer Statue is visible from most everywhere|
|Sofitel Copacabana One Bedroom Suite|
I just wish there was something to do that inspires me. Driving to see the Christ the Redeemer
statue? Taking a cable car to Sugarloaf
Mountain? Visiting the favelas
(slums)? (I can tick off the
beach!). None of those do much for me
and, to be sure, not being one of the beautiful people, strolling on a beach is
like waiving a flag that says “Tourist”.
So there is only one thing to do:
Brazil is known as a country of meat eaters and churrascaria are, plain
and simple, meat restaurants. One of the
most famous and popular upscale ones is Porcao (say it like por-chow). Porcao has
four venues, but Rios is supposed the best of them.
Time to hop in a taxi and find out.
We drove along Copacabana beach at night with various small bars and
eateries open…some definitely more popular than others. It was interesting to see folks jogging at
night and walking around, but the lighting is definitely bright and there are
tall fences most everywhere. If you are
a local you probably are fine, but taking things in from inside a taxi just
makes sense as there is no “gotta see” places that I could find along the way.
Arriving at Porcao you could easily think you are at an upscale Miami
restaurant…until you walk inside. There is a huge buffet of all sorts of
things, but trust me you will never get near the thing.
As soon as you sit down you are given a round
sign. Green on one side and red on the
other. Green means bring meat. Red means no more.
Within three minutes of sitting meat was on my plate. Absolutely delicious chicken and
gizzard. Then some sort of beef.
Then wine…not a good list, so we figured on trying a Brazilian rose –
Villa Francioni. Considering how salty
the exterior of the meat was, it was actually a pretty good choice.
Oh yes, back to the meat.
Filet. Sirloin. Flank.
Some unidentified meat.
Then a waiter arrives with yucca flowers, rice, French fries, onion
rings, a light, citrus, tomato and onion sauce, and, of course(?), fried
Then lamb chops. Lamb
steak. Back to the beef.
Note: The green/red thing is
meaningless. The meat just keeps coming.
And then, after what is most definitely the most meat I have ever eaten
in one sitting (and it was all excellent) not another mouthful was
possible…until the pork ribs arrived.
Somehow we were able to stop them and headed back to the Sofitel for a
nightcap and a long sleep before heading over to the Seabourn Quest in the
|Bohemia is a medium bodied Brazilian beer; |
perfect to after a huge meat meal
Of course, when I awoke there was a message from Bjoern Wassmuth, head of culinary operations for Seabourn…just checking in. This is, of course, a Seabourn cruise and the details matter…a lot.