Arriving in Rio de Janeiro

My First View of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

TAM Airlines flying into Rio de Janeiro Brazil

It wasn’t until I crawled over the disheveled Brazilian man a slid down into my window seat that I was able to contemplate the journey ahead.

Between all the errands, goodbyes and last minute essentials, I never allow myself time to get too excited before a trip.

As the plane took flight my mind began its own bumpy ascent towards reality.

I’m moving to Brazil. I don’t know Portuguese. I don’t know anyone. I have no plan. 

By the time we were free to move about the cabin, I was paralyzed with uncertainty.

Thankfully, the in-flight movie selection and free red wine allowed me to relax a bit before eventually dosing off and leaving the world I knew behind.

Morning came and my eyes opened to the site of lush green mountains and vast favelas as we descended into Rio de Janeiro.

I could feel the summer heat right away, but luckily an easy pass through customs and onto an air-conditioned public bus made the process bearable.

It took about an hour from the airport to my hostel in Ipanema, as we passed through central Rio and the beaches of Copacabana along the way.

The Bus Ride from GIG International Airport to Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Soaking in the sites of Rio on my way from the airport to the beach.

The incredible economic and social contrasts were on display from start to finish.

I dropped my bag at the Ipanema Beach House and wasted no time in making my way to the beach.

Beautiful people, ridiculous views and an amazing energy… this place is f’ing paradise.

I grabbed a beach chair and fresh coconut from one of the many beachside stands and found a free spot amongst the crowd.

As the bright Brazilian sun began to thaw my frozen New York body, I took a big sip of my coconut water and my mind said… “don’t worry, I’ll figure things out.”

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hour One. Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio Airport Bus Transfer Info – How to take the bus from Galeão Airport to Copacabana


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6 Responses to Arriving in Rio de Janeiro

  1. Priscila

    my name is Priscila and I am Brazilian from Rio living in Rochester NY since my husband is from Rochester. your mom sent me a link to your blog. she asked if I have a few tips for you. I just came back from Rio after spending Christmas and New Years with my family there. The first piece of advice I can give you is the same I gave my husband and my kids: don’t walk around as if you have no purpose. a lot of mini crimes are just the opportunity brought by an easy target of a foreigner walking around without paying attention to his surrounds. second, do not open your entire wallet in public for everyone to see.carry a few reais in a pocket away from your wallet. it’s just safe that way. third,take advantage if the juice bars. I took my husband everyday to try a different fresh juice and amazing fruits that you may have never heard about. last for now, if the sand under your feet gets too hot, run to the closest beach volleyball court and cool off your feet. Feel free to ask any questions: language, places, how to handle something, etc. enjoy every minute if it. don’t let the poverty scare your, just see it as a reminder of how thankful you should be for all you have. hope I was able to help. [email protected]

    • Gareth

      Thank you so much for the information Priscila! I have already taken full advantage of all the juice bars and I can’t get enough Acai!

  2. I´ve known many americans thtat did the same. I think you´ll enjoy your stay but will comeback to US a t some point. You´ll find out that here is for vacation not for working or having a stable life. Brazilian life is mor unpredictable, bureaucratically than in 1st world countries and you will discover why many brazilians try living abroad. The fun part is living the ups and downs of the “heaven” you might be thinking you are. Wish you good luck in your trip.
    Gustavo Leig recently posted..Aprendendo Inglês Lendo KeatsMy Profile

  3. By the way, feel free to contact me if you need networking.

    • Gareth

      Thank you Gustavo! After living in a few countries across South America over the past few years I definitely understand where you’re coming from in the sense that to be rooted here in Brazil is much different than just passing through. I hope I can share some of those cultural aspects here on the site over the coming months to give people an understanding (and appreciation) of the differences between countries.

  4. How are you with Portuguese? Did you manage to learn a bit?

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