Our First Week on the Big Trip: Rio De Janeiro & At Sea
January 1-4, 2015
We are now officially on the Big Trip and it has been a lot of fun so far—the bar is being set high from the very beginning. We took off from Chicago on New Year’s Day and left cold, gray and entered a world of heat and vibrant colors. Packing was very interesting and look for another entry later on exactly what went down with the filling of the suitcases. Let’s just say we have more bags with us than originally planned and what appears to be entirely too much stuff. In February we have a brief stint at home and will unload and repack and the plan is to be lighter than we are now. I’m blaming the cruise and having to be more dressed up for this part of our trip.
Our flights were all on time and went smoothly. Bella and I were upgraded to First Class on the leg from Chicago to Miami. She decided that this is the way she would like to fly all of the time because “it’s AMAZING”! No upgrades for the international portion so Lilli and I sat together during the flight from Miami to Rio and sort of slept off and on during the overnight flight. It felt so good to get off the plane and into the warmth of Rio.
Rio was very beautiful and we definitely could have spent a lot more time there—we have to go back there sometime for sure. We stayed at the Sheraton on the beach just down from Ipanema and Copacabana. Our beach was part public beach and part private. The public beach was a happening place and teenagers were climbing up on a big rock and jumping and diving off. Lilli was thinking about joining them, but you had to swim around the rock in pretty deep water to climb up and then it looked pretty slippery so she decided not to do it. I have a video of the locals which I will post when we have much better internet access. (Shipboard wifi is not good.) Our cab driver who took us from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal was very nice and gave us a good overview of Rio via Copacabana. The thing that is so impressive about Copa is the sheer size–the beach is huge and has lots of stands/shops. It is hot to walk on the beach this time of year (its summer in South America right now) and they set up soaker sprinklers to keep paths on the sand cool down all the way down to the water—very smart! There is so much to see in Brazil and I was sad to only drive by some of it and not get to spend time there. The culture is a melting pot of Spanish, French, African, Caribbean, etc…. the people were beautiful! Isabella blended right in with her brown skin and curly hair—many people would look at her first and start speaking in Portuguese to us–assuming we were Brazilian. At dinner that night, the girls started asking questions about the things they had seen so far and wondered about. My favorite question came from Isabella: “Mama, why are all of the men wearing their underwear to the pool? Don’t they have swimsuits?”
We waited in a very very very long line to get on the ship in a hot and crowded cruise terminal—they were checking passports, Visas, paid entry fees, and boarding passes—so it took a while—like 2.5 hours… which made the TSA waits at O’Hare seem very trivial. After we were checked in, we boarded the ship and headed to our room, unpacked, and went tot he top deck of the ship for the Bon Voyage Sailaway Party. The sound the ship makes when leaving port really reminds me of watching the Love Boat – one of my favorite shows when I was growing up. Princess is actually the cruise line that the Love Boat was modeled after and one of the TV stations in our room is 24×7 Love Boat reruns—how awesome is that?! The girls aren’t as into it as the parents are and their eyes glaze over when we start explaining who the characters are and the nuances of the show.
Sunday was our first “At Sea” day and I have to say I was a little worried about how to keep everyone occupied and content when we are not in port—but I am happy to say there is more than enough to keep us all busy and the days are flying by. We slept in late on Sunday and didn’t get up until almost 11am—I think we were all beat from the long flight to Rio and getting adjusted to the time change. The initial day at sea was a little on the bumpy side so they had to close the pools. They left the hot tubs open which appeased this crowd and we sat in the hot tub and watched Moonraker on the big screen. This is definitely the way to watch movies! This was the girls’ first exposure to James Bond and I have noticed that the artwork they are creating now includes laser guns that shoot out rainbows. (Lilli’s invention) Sunday was formal night so we got dressed up and went to the Champagne waterfall fountain reception—it was the place to be on the ship and there was some very good people watching. We ate a fancy dinner at The Crown Grill and had lobster and steak. Actually only Bella had the lobster and liked it very much! Lilli liked the dessert the best which was called the Chocolate Fudge Obsession—she declared it DEEEE-licious. It was a great and easy-going day.
Off to a great start and more to come! Kim