Saturday, June 2, 2012

End of Brazil Adventure--Trip Factoids

After a great lasagne dinner washed down with a large beer, I walked to the Ouro Preto bus station for the 10 PM night bus back to Rio. Although it was a rainy, twisty ride through the mountains, I slept most of the way thanks to my sleep mask and the beer I had for dinner.

I got in to the Rio Bus station at about 6 AM so I decided to take a shower for 5 BRs at the bus station since I had the entire day to take a last look at Rio before my 9:15 PM departure on my American Air flight to DFW. The shower area had a separate dressing area that was enough to store my backpack and lay out my clothes without getting them wet and the water was hot with a high volume. Just what I needed after the night ride. I dropped off my baggage at the left baggage office at the bus station before heading out to the beaches of Rio.

I jumped on a bus headed to the Ipanema beach area, but when I got there, there were few people because it was cold, overcast, and early in the morning. I ended up having breakfast at a walk up fruit juice stand which consisted of an egg, cheese, hamburger meat sandwich along with some strong coffee con lieto along with an acaci, banana, and orange smoothie for 8 BRs.

Along the Ipanema Beach, I decided to sit a bit with the most influential 20th Century Brazilian poet, Carlos Drummond. As you can see, there are few people on the beach.


I ended up walking from this Ipanema Beach all the way to Botafago which is near Sugar Loaf which you can see in the distance beyond the wavy black and white walkway. They have many of these patterned walkways throughout various cities in Brazil that symbolize the mixing of the waters like I saw near Manaus where the Rio Negro mixes with the Amazon.

As usual when I travel, the last day or days become more of thinking about returning home rather than enjoying the last views of the country you are in. I am reminded of John Steinbeck's comment in Travels with Charley, "Who has known a journey to be over and dead before the traveler returns?"

When I returned to the bus station, I quickly found the Real Bus stop there that would get me out to the airport about a 40 minute ride for just 12 BRs. My full American Air flight left on time at 9:15PM with stops in DFW and Phoenix before getting to SEA for a total of 16 1/2 hours of flight time which took me 24 hours. After I cleared immigration and customs at DFW, I stopped at an American Air gate that was loading passengers for a nonstop flight to Seattle. They had room, but they would not take me because my ticket was a frequent flyer ticket. So I ended up taking the American flight as scheduled to Phoenix. There I changed planes to SEA to Alaska Air, one of American's partners. They too had an earlier flight, but it was full. That allowed me to enjoy the delights of the Phoenix airport. That was not too bad though, because they, like SEA, had free wifi throughout the terminal unlike the mercenary DFW airport. I arrived at SEA at about 5 PM and enjoyed a beautiful approach to Seattle by coming up the Eastside and then turning over Medina for some fantastic views of the Seattle area. I acted as a tour guide to my window seat mate from Holland pointing out all of the major landmarks along the way including Bill Gates mansion. In all my travels, I still think flying into Seattle is the most scenic.

I caught the light rail at the airport to the University St. stop, just 3 blocks from home.

It is now a week later and I have just completed tallying up my travel costs as well as some other factoids and here they are:

Total cost--$4273 or about $95 per day

45 days travel with 24 nights in 13 different hostels-- cost $417 with an average cost $17 per night

  • 3 nights on planes
  • 9 nights on buses
  • 6 nights in Amazon boat cabin--cost for 7 day trip 300 BRs
  • 3 nights and 4 days on Amazon Iguana Jungle tour--cost 500 BRs
Food costs, including beverages--lots of beer--was $1721 for an average cost of $38 per day. Almost all of the hostels provided free breakfasts so you can see I spent a lot on food.

Total travel and transportation costs were $1218.

  • The American air fare round trip from SEA to Rio cost 40,000 miles and $64. If I would have paid for this flight, it would have cost me $1200. The round trip distance is 14,230 miles.
  • The TAM air flight from Manaus in the Amazon down to Belo Horizante cost $191. This flight took 5 hours with a stop in Brasilia and a distance of 1585 miles.
  • The 7 day Amazon Boat ride cost $158 and traveled 850 miles up the Amazon from Belem to Manaus.
  • The remainder of the costs were for the local buses and metros but primarily for the long distance bus rides. I traveled 5503 miles and spent 144 hours on these long distance bus rides.
I spent $645 on local tours and admissions to museums which included these major tourist attractions:

  • $290 for the 3 night and 4 day Iguana Tours to the Amazon Jungle outside Manaus.
  • $90 for the Rio tour which included Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Lapa, Carnaval parade grounds and the beaches.
  • $45 for the Rocinha Favela tour in Rio.
  • $21 for the Paraty boat tour of four islands which included snorkeling.
  • $160 for the two days of tours to the Brazil and Argentina Foz do Iguaca waterfalls including a boat ride under these waterfalls.

My supply costs were just $272 with about $200 for a replacement camera for the one that was stolen. Since I have Allianz travel insurance, my stolen camera, SD card and shirt claim will result in a reimbursement of $251 for these losses. The remainder of these expenses were for toiletries, laundry, haircuts, and other minor items.

When I look over all of these expenses, I realize that I could have reduced my food costs considerably by spending just $20 per day instead of $38 per day. That would have saved me about $820. But then I would have missed out in some fabulous meals and heat quenching beer.

Recife Sea Bass and capers with vegetable medley and rice with finely chopped broccoli

That does it for all of my Brazil factoids.

This is another on of my trips where I have seen very few US Citizens traveling these days since the 9/11 attacks. Most travelers I met in my Brazil travels were from other Latin American countries, Europe, Australia, or the Far East. On all of my long distance bus rides, I was the only Gringo aboard. It was the same with my 7 day Amazon boat ride--not only was I the only Gringo, but there was only one passenger on board who spoke English and Robson got off at Santarem. Brazil is very similar to to the US with regard to other languages spoken--- In Brazil it is just Portuguese and in the US just English. Maybe with the Olympics coming to Brazil that may improve somewhat.

I was pleased that I was able to see so much of the country and especially enjoyed my time in the Amazon. I still find it hard to believe that after 7 days of travel up the Amazon it was still more than a mile wide at Manaus where the Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers meet and run for miles before mixing into the coffee latte colored Amazon.

It is hard to identify my favorite places, but the Amazon, Foz do Iguacu Falls, along with the smaller preserved towns of Paraty and Ouro Preto would be high on my favorites list.

This is the end of my Hoov's Brazil Adventures blog which I have enjoyed putting together. Now to start thinking about where to travel next for that, too, is part of the journey.