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April 18, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Rio de Janeiro

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When you think of Rio de Janeiro, you probably think of three things: crime, the Christ statue and the beach. Rio has 45 miles of white sand beaches and Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches are the most famous. Of course, I had heard of them but I never really knew what they were all about or even what they looked like. Copacabana is the more "touristy" of the two beaches, even though they are practically connected. The Sofitel is ideally located because it's just a six-block walk to Ipanema Beach (which I personally prefer to Copacabana; it's more hip and the locals are friendlier.) Both beaches have long sidewalks where many Cariocas are busy exercising (even at 6am) in their little bathing suits. Warning: All the men wear banana hammocks but somehow, still manage to look cool. The sidewalks are lined with creative sand castles (which cost $1 to photograph), the occasional fast-food eatery (have you ever seen a smaller McDonald's), corn on the cob vendors, and tasty juice bars. Bottled water and fresh coconut water (Água de coco) cost just 2 BRL ($1). After a game of volleyball in the hot sun, there's nothing like drinking out of one of these heavy, fresh, young coconuts filled naturally with carbohydrate-electrolytes.

I can't mention the Rio beaches without mentioning volleyball or futevolei – that's volleyball without using your hands. What?! It's mind boggling to see how athletic these guys are (old and young). I didn't even bother trying to make a fool of myself so instead I stuck to two-man volleyball. I played on both Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. On Ipanema, the locals were friendlier, even though there were a bunch of European pros training for the upcoming FIVB year. I'm happy to report that I surprisingly represented Manhattan Beach, California (the volleyball capital of the world and where I live) well. The Brazilians are damn good but they play by the FIVB rules, not the AVP rules, which is what I am used to. Therefore, here it's a version of "picnic ball" as they sometimes throw the ball, which is against the rules in California.

If exercising in the hot sun isn't your thing, don't worry – all the big hotels (including the Sofitel) have beach chairs available (free of charge) complete with security and masseuses nearby. All you have to do is just lay out there, read your book and fend off the friendly street-hawkers. They stroll the beaches and sidewalks, selling everything from bikinis to shrimp on a skewer. Actually, people-watching here should be a sport because watching the Brazilians will definitely get your heart pumpin'. I knew the women wore Brazilian-cut thongs on the beach (they don't go topless which is a bad rumor) but I had no idea how incredible their bodies would be and how beautiful they are. Seriously, even though I have always been a sucker for blondes, the Brazilian women, with their round butts, have to be in the top three of the most beautiful women in the world. If I sound like a perv, I'm sorry! But you can't come here and not notice this.

To escape the tourists, head out to these local beaches: Prainha, Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Barra da Tijuca (my favorite) and Leblon (next to Ipanema). Inexpensive bus service is available and as you ride along the coast, be sure to look out to your right and see the Sinless Motel. What a name, eh? The motel (and many others like it) rents rooms by the hour. That's because the majority of young people in Brazil live with their parents until they get married.

Sorry! No video this week, but here's a link to all the Johnny Jet Videos ever made. If you're on MySpace or LinkedIn here are my pages.

Next week: Rio's attractions, restaurants and nightlife. Stay tuned!

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Happy Travels,
Johnny Jet

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Note: This trip was sponsored by the Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Copacabana Beach


Ipanema Beach






Hotel Beach Chairs


Selling Bikinis


Need I Say More?



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