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Choosing a Guide in Rio de Janeiro

rio-de-janeiro-christ-redeemerWhen a cruise concludes in Rio de Janeiro, passengers disembark around 9 a.m. but flights to the U.S. don’t leave until early in the evening or even later. What’s a baby boomer traveler to do? Hire a guide.

Alan and I were faced with this dilemma when we sailed on an Atlantic crossing from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro on a Regent Seven Seas cruise. We started the journey with no advance plans for our day in Rio. When we realized just how long that day would be, planning became ultra important. We weren’t comfortable choosing one of the guided services offered by the many Brazilian jewelry salesmen lurking on-board. And, the ship’s concierge desk offered the option of a private guide at an exorbitant price. So, teaming up with Cindy and David, another couple who were in the same situation, we began the search for a guide who would show us around Rio before transporting us to the airport.

Cindy found licensed private guide, Madson Arajúo, through a Google search. She liked the look of his website but even more impressive was his timely response to her email questions.

Madson usually drives guests in his GM Minivan Safira. But with four passengers loaded down by cruise luggage, he arranged for a larger van plus a driver. From the moment Madson arrived at the cruise terminal, his humor carried us through the day-long tour.

rio-de-janeiro-copa-cabana-beachWe began at the SambaDrome where, during Carnival, samba schools dance their way down the long, concrete avenue bordered by viewing stands. Then, it was time to visit Rio’s icons, Christ the Redeemer Statue on Corcovado mountain, followed by a cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf to determine which had the most impressive view. We traveled beside shanty town favelas before riding along the famous beaches of Copacabana, Impanema and Leblon. For lunch we sampled traditional Portuguese and Brazilian dishes at Fellini, a kilo restaurant where customers pay by the weight of their plate. Our last stop was at the National Cathedral. The modern cone-shaped structure surprised us with its soaring interior walls decorated with stained-glass panels.

We arrived at the airport on time and with a better understanding of Rio de Janeiro. For Madson not only entertained us with his sense of humor, he explained life in Rio as he saw it.

Have you toured Rio de Janeiro? Leave a comment to share your experience. We’ll be going back.

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