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June 17, 2003

Arrival in Rio

I will give updates on the weblog about my trip to Rio. To make sure that not everyone has to see all the images of beautiful beaches, etc. I will make use of MT's extended entry facility for the pictures and to write about the more personal experiences. I will use the summary entry mainly for reporting on the conference and other major stuff.

I spend the last 24 hour traveling to Rio de Janeiro. The trip was quite an adventure as I managed to visit 5 other airports before actually touching down in Rio...

Thanks to some last minute bookings the only affordable business class travel was with LAB the Bolivian airline. I boarded that flight in Miami, which meant I first had to fly to Philly to get out of Ithaca. The LAB flight first took me to Manaus which is in the heart of the Amazon rainforest region. It was in the middle of the night so I have no pictures. The next stop was Santa Cruz in Bolivia, where we arrived just when the sun was coming up.

LAB is a pretty good airline, service was not really up to Singapore Airline standards, but then it was only a quarter of the price. After Santa Cruz we took off for Rio with a stop in Sao Paulo. The view from the plane of the Bolivian and Brazilian heartland was magnificent. It was 2 PM when I arrived having left Ithaca the day before at 11:30 AM. I guess I could have taken the direct NYC - Rio flight and saved about 6 hours. But this was a lot more fun.

The arrival in Rio at the airport was fun. You are being verbally attacked by 20 taxi drivers who all want to take you to your hotel. This is where my Portuguese language skills were first being tested again. I got myself a reasonable good deal with some negotiations. In the taxi the driver chatted all the way, under the impression that I understood everything. I understood most of the futebol part, but the city politics were a bit too much. He didn't even try to rip me off, charge the agreed amount, and was happy with his modest tip.

The hotel, Rio Othon Palace, is on the Copacabana beach, and I got myself a room on the 29th floor with a view of the beach, I was dead tired by now, so the first thing to do was take a nap, before heading for the beach. I took a walk after 5PM, but the sun was setting already so most of the people had left. The beach was now occupied by people playing soccer and volleyball. It was fun to watch them for a while. I did some shopping at a local supermercado and am now checking out the local television (telenovellas, the Brazilian soap operas). The view from the hotel room balcony of the beach and the Avenida Atlantico is spectacular.

Tomorrow the conference starts, and it will be hard to keep concentrated with this divertisementos outside. I am going out for a light dinner now, and will get some decent sleep by turning in early tonight.

Posted by Werner Vogels at June 17, 2003 07:27 PM