|View from room 656, Sofitel Rio de Janeiro|
At 0700hrs it was hot. Hot enough to go for a swim in the sea, although I left it until I'd enjoyed a decent breakfast. And that's something else I love about hot places: I can rest assured that the breakfast will consist of exotic fruits and fruit juices. Brazil didn't disappoint. I had a couple of dishes of fresh melon, papaya, kiwi fruit, you name it, plus similarly exotic fruit juices and there was even a decent cup of tea, which, believe me, is unusual in a foreign country. I enjoyed a Twinings Earl Grey tea without milk. There was, of course, bread – or rather breads – and a range of cooked items, but I have a new rule: no cooked breakfasts. I've had my fill of sausages and bacon and anything fried and I try to stick to healthy stuff.
Breakfast over I took a stroll around outside the hotel. I was wary of Rio's high crime rate but around the hotel things seemed to be alright. There's a cycle track that runs around the entire bay and I can hire a bike for around 25 Reals, which is about a fiver. I might do this, but I might not as I can also take a tour to the Sugarloaf mountain, although I'm not planning that until Thursday, the day I fly back to London.
|The view looking down from room 656|
There are lots of people standing on and paddling surfboards, it's the new craze. They're slightly bigger surfboards than the conventional type – much wider – but I see a lot of novices falling off and then having a devil of a job getting back on again. The sea, however, is calm, it's a safe bay, and after finding myself a sun lounger (courtesy of the hotel, which owns a small collection of them) I sit there for a while and then head for the sea. The water is warm and, in all honesty, this really is heaven. It's something I've needed for a very long time: to swim in the sea again. I can't remember when I last did it, but it was probably in the cold and grim waters off the coast of Felpham on England's south coast.
I swam up and down for about half an hour, treading water, floating and enjoying the warmth of the sea and the beautiful scented air and then I got out, dried myself and wandered back to the hotel where, in a short while, lunch awaited me.
|Another swimming pool adjacent to the Atlantico restaurant|
The beachfront is separated by a cycle track and a fairly busy road, but it's easy to cross and all was well. As mentioned, there is a cycle hire shop next to the hotel and, I discovered, an entire mall, which in some ways reminded me of Montreal and a huge mall 'underneath' the Hyatt Regency. This one is smaller and quieter and the shops were not so appealing so I moved on.
Last night at a cocktail reception for the conference I'm attending somebody remarked that the quality of the food in the hotels wasn't as good as it is outside, but most people were worried about the crime in Rio and so stayed in the hotels. Well, the food at the Sofitel was wonderful. I had the option of an a la carte menu or a buffet and chose the latter. The food was excellent: beautifully cooked rice, beef, fish, vegetables, I had one of everything plus a glass of wine and some much needed mineral water.
|Copacabana beach from the hotel's Atlantico restaurant|
Right now it's 0630hrs, I need to get ready for breakfast. The problem now, of course, is that I know people from last night's reception, which means I might not be able to take breakfast alone. I hope I can. Better go, talk again later...
|View from the 1st floor Atlantico restaurant|