My lovely, intelligent and amiable niece recently went to Brazil for a friend’s wedding. This luminous young lady had also studied abroad in Spain during her college years.  I interviewed her about her experience in Brazil. How fortuitous that her visit to Brazil included a wedding celebration. She experienced both sightseeing and cultural celebrations!

Unknown-10 What inspired you to travel to Brazil?

I traveled to Brazil for a college friend’s wedding. We went to Brazil for one of my good friend’s wedding. She grew up there, went to college in Texas and now lives in a small town outside of Campinas on a hay and eucalyptus farm! I hadn’t seen her since my wedding 5 years ago, so it was a no-brainer to make the trip to celebrate with her!

What did your trip itinerary involve?

We were in Brazil for about a week. We spent the first part of the trip in Rio De Janeiro enjoying the sites, the beach, samba and fun. After Rio, we traveled to Campinas for the wedding. Campinas is a city about 2 hours outside of Sao Paulo.

What excursions or museums do you recommend?

There is SO much to do and see in Rio. Here are some highlights: Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) –

Unknown-13 2Take the tram to up to see breathtaking, panoramic views of Rio. If you can, go in the evening to catch an incredible sunset. Santa Teresa Neighborhood – This was probably our favorite part of the city. It is a small, eclectic neighborhood situated high in the hills above the city.

Santa Teresa neighborhood
Santa Teresa neighborhood

There are great restaurants, shops and art galleries. It is not super touristy so you can really get a feel for the city. Stop by Hotel Santa Teresa for a cocktail and enjoy amazing views of Rio. Escadaria Selarón- These world-famous, tiled steps in the Santa Teresa neighborhood are a must see!Unknown-8 The 250 steps are covered in bright tiles representing various countries from across the world. Christ the Redeemer – Hop on a tour bus that will take you to the top of Corcovado Mountain to see one of the seven wonders of the world. It is very crowded and windy at the top but is a must see while in Rio.Unknown-5

Urca Neighborhood – Urca is a fun hangout for the younger crowd. Grab a cerveja and some empanadas from Bar Urca and watch the sunset with the locals while enjoy music from a street band.Unknown-12 There are plenty of good restaurants within walking distance. Copacobana and Impanema Beach – You will definitely want to check out the beaches in Rio. IMG_2956 2Make sure to get a coconut! Copacobana Hotel is a beautiful hotel and a great place to grab dinner or a drink.Unknown-6 El Centro – Downtown Rio is a bustling metro area. There are cathedrals and museums that you can visit. Make sure to visit Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro. The Theatro has recently been recently been renovated and the architecture is beautiful. To see the theatro you have to take a guided tour. It takes about an hour and is inexpensive.Unknown-11 2 Stop by Confeitaria Colombo for a coffee and sweet treat. It is a very popular spot! Samba – Check out a samba school if you can! Went to Bar Scenrium in Lapa and enjoyed a samba band and dancing!

What hotels and restaurants do you recommend?

In Rio, we stayed at Porto Bay Internacional on Copacabana Beach. I would recommend staying either on Copacabana or Impanema Beach. Make sure your hotel has adequate security. In Campinas, we stayed at the Vitoria Hotel which was excellent. In Rio, we had an amazing dinner at Aprazivel Restuarante in Santa Teresa. The restaurant is like tree house nestled on the side of a mountain with an amazing menu and wine list. It is a must do!Unknown How would you describe the perfect Brazilian meal?

Brazil is know for its Churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse). We were treated to an churrascaria-style barbeque at our friend’s parent’s house in Campinas. Unknown-4Also, you must have a Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail) made with fresh fruit and cachaça.Unknown-15 Another Brazilian treat we enjoyed was Pão de queijo- a small, baked, cheese-flavored roll made with tapioca flour. They are light, airy and cheesy! It is easy to eat several of them!

Describe the vibe of the culture.

In Rio, the people were very nice but reserved. Many people do not know English and are hesitant to interact with you at first. We used our southern charm to warm people up! After that, they are very fun and will even give you Portuguese lessons!

How do you describe the terrain?

In Rio, the mountains were right on top of the ocean. In Campinas, the terrain was more flat with large, sprawling fields.2052845336_a2bb70c42b_b

Were there any challenges in getting to your destination? What was the flight like?

Our trip went very smoothly! Going there, my friend and I flew from Dallas to Miami to Rio. Coming back, we flew direct from Sao Paulo to Dallas. The international flights were about 9 hours and both were overnight so we tried to sleep as much as we could.

A couple of tips if you plan on traveling to Brazil:

You will need a visa to enter the country. You can get this through a visa service. Learn a bit of Portuguese. We found that very few people spoke English, especially in Rio. Don’t let the bad press about safety in Rio scare you/ We didn’t run into any trouble when in Rio. We never felt unsafe on the beach or walking through the city. Leave large jewelry and rings at home and travel in a group. Find a hotel that provides security and chairs on the beach. Carry a copy of your passport with you and leave the original in your room safe. Most of all – have fun!Unknown-14 What did you learn about yourself from this trip? How did this trip enrich your life? Describe any experiences that made you grow spiritually.

I have been very fortunate to be able to travel abroad with my family on previous trips. Going on trips like this makes you realize how large the world is and how much there is out there to see, learn and experience. I was so happy I was able to go on this trip to learn about a new country and culture and to reconnect with some of my best friends.FullSizeRender

Follow this lesson plan to build trip itineraries with your family:

Travel Lesson Plan: Integrate the Concepts

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