Back from Rio and major jet lag aside, it was a great trip. We went for Joe's work so we stayed in a business hotel in the old part of Centro, far from the more recognizable beach side spots like Copacabana and Ipanema. I was hoping to be by the water - not gonna lie - but our location ended up being perfect. Had we stayed in a tourist hotel by the beach I might have never been forced to use my Google translator app to speak Portuguese with the staff. I might have never had lunch with local office workers in a tiny well-kept restaurant overlooking a building facade of decorative hand painted tiles. And on Joe's day off, we probably wouldn't have spent an entire morning walking around the downtown city streets discovering little alleyways full of old European charm. It was quite the surprise. We never expected to come across such a neighborhood in Rio since all we've ever been shown are the parts of Zona Sul that look more like Miami Beach with a tropical backdrop. We went back for dinner and what a different scene it was from the morning...tables and chairs filling the alleys, office workers enjoying beers and baskets of fries, and every other restaurant blasting their stereo or showcasing a local band - we opted for the spot with live samba music. As we ate, I danced in my chair, shoulders shaking, making elaborate plans to be in Carnaval one day (I did say elaborate). It was a short and sweet trip but I'm already longing to spend more time there exploring its many facets. What an interesting little big city...I'm sure it's full of surprises.