Bill and Jerry joined in Argentina and Brazil, and had never traveled with a group. They were always open for anything, especially if it involved meeting new people and making friends with locals. Bill, featured on the right, recently shared his thoughts on travel with us.
Zoom: Why did you decide to take this trip with Zoom Vacations
Bill: Jerry and I had decided we wanted to visit Brazil over a year ago so we could see the city prior to the 2016 Olympic Games. We wanted to see Rio de Janeiro in its best light right before the thousands of journalists and hundreds of TV cameras come to invade prior to the 2016 Opening Ceremonies. After asking around to some of our well traveled friends, a couple of Zoom alumni gave Zoom Vacations the thumbs up.
Zoom: Was this your first time in Argentina and Brazil?
Bill: Yes, We have both been to Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Central America, Africa and Asia but it was our first trip south of the Panama Canal.
Zoom: Since you joined us in both Argentina and Brazil, what were some similarities and differences you noticed in these two Latin-American countries?
Bill: Argentina was not as Catholic as we thought it would be and even though the present Roman Catholic Pope hails from Buenos Aires. There were actually more pictures and mentions of Evita Peron around the city.
Buenos Aires was not in the middle of a countrywide celebration like Rio de Janeiro so we got to see BA on a normal summer city attitude. Our favorite part of BA was called La Boca which is the birthplace of the Tango and the multicolored rooming houses (painted different colors because the locals asked the visiting ships for any extra paint on board) how all this came together with the forbidden dance the tango was a fascinating part of the city.
In Brazil it was all about the beach and the party. Seeing guys in speedos standing in the teller line in the Banco de Brazil was so different and showed the really relaxed atmosphere the Brazilians have about their beach/city culture. The best news in Rio was that all of the venues for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will be finished at least one month ahead of time. My personal feeling that the only sport facing a big problem might be the sailing events which could possibly be moved south of the city.
Zoom: Was coming during Carnival in Rio a good choice? Why?
Bill: We are very used to going to some of the worlds big events; 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics and 1988, 1992, 2002 Winter Olympics, Gay Games 1994, 1998, 2002. Plus, Sydney Gay Mardi Gras, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, NCAA Final Four, MLB All Star Game, Super Bowl, etc. so we were excited to see Rio’s BIG event. It was a great experience, and lived up to the hype that preceded it. The entire city was in party mode. Everyone had the week off from work and the beaches and street scene was humming.
Zoom: Did the hotels live up to its expectations?
Bill: The hotel in Buenos Aires was great. In fact I had seen the hotel before when it was featured in a recent Will Smith movie (Focus – released in 2015)! Both Jerry and I figured out how to get around BA petty quickly and since we are natural explorers we even ended up on the Buenos Aires subway one day.
The Copacabana Palace was absolutely 5 stars and the scene at the hotel’s pool was pure eye candy. The greatest night at the Copacabana Palace was the night of the Palace Magic Ball just prior to the Samba Parades, walking down the red carpet, being interviewed live on Brazilian TV and meeting many members of the 2016 Rio Olympic Organizing Committee was over the top.
Zoom: How was the Samba parade in Rio?
Bill: First we couldn’t believe we had box seats on the very first row, right at street level! We could literally reach out and touch the samba dancers as they danced past us. Our pictures of the event came out perfect in every shot since there was no one between the parade participants and ourselves. 70,000 plus people cheering for each parade samba group with the front row box was perfect!
Zoom: What were your favorite parts of the trips?
Bill: Too many to mention! Do you want us to write a book?
Zoom: Did having a Zoom Concierge (Joel) make a difference in your trip?
Bill: This is the first time we have EVER let someone else make all our travel arrangements for us. We are usually a very hands on couple. This time all we had to do was just show up. We are not used to that type of travel at all. But, it worked out perfectly. Joel has converted us into the Zoom Vacations Fan Club (no its not a cult,…. yet).
Not having to worry about event tickets/cabs/reservations, etc. was indeed a treat. To tell you the truth since Joel took our group to some of the best site seeing and restaurants in the city, Jerry and I would have probably gone to the same places by ourselves. But we would have had the stress of setting it all up ahead of time and the follow through with the transportation and language barrier.
Zoom: Will you be taking another trip with Zoom Vacations? To where?
Bill: Yes, we have been converted to the religion of ZOOM (no it’s not like scientology – it’s more fun)! Jerry and I are interested in the Zoom New Years trip to Cuba this coming December 2016.