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Rio and Bahia Over the Christmas/New Years Holiday

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Dec 4th, 2012, 07:47 AM
  #1
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Rio and Bahia Over the Christmas/New Years Holiday

We are a family of three adults planning a last minute trip to Rio over the holidays. So far I am able to secure the fligths and hotels in Rio and Bahia ( or Buzios) Can anyone tell me what they know or think about this time of year in Rio? The hotels? Bahia or Buzios? Any guides, drivers etc. that might be helpful? Safety? Just a few questions

We can stay in Rio at the Sheraton Barra Hotel & Suites. The Fasano was booked and this we can do on starwood points which is always helpful. Any thoughts on this hotel? Location?

We are able to get something before New Years in Bahia at Ethnia Pousada & Boutique (not the Club de Mer ) which is reasonable but I am not sure if it is very nice? Or the Uxua Casa Hotel and Spa however this is pricey for five nights. They both can accomodate us before New Years....so what I thought is :
Fly into Rio and go straight to Bahia for a 4-5 nights and come back to Rio for 4-5 nights. Should we stay in Rio over New Years or get out of there? I am not such a crowds person and it sounds crazy to me! But someone did say you shouldn't miss it. Maybe I can just watch it from the balcony

I am concerned about safety and getting around Rio/Brazil. Wouldn't mind having a driver or guide of some sort if anyone knows of any. If someone could help with this itinerary I can than go on to researching the actual things to do! Fodorites as always thank you for your incredible help!!
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Dec 4th, 2012, 07:48 AM
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Oh one more thing. Would you choose Bahia over Buzios? Or is there even another place/beach that would be better? In Buzios I think we can stay at Cas Brancas Boutique hotel & spa.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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Buzios and Trancoso have a totally different character, as I mentioned above. I happen to prefer the latter, but I suspect I am a very different type of traveler than you. All of the properties you mention for both locations are quite nice.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Thank you VidaNaPraia! It seems that EVERYTHING is booked over the New Years weekend except for the Sheraton which as I checked into it more does not get very good reviews. i am ready to give up! Trancoso also is booked so we can't do it the other way around.
Thank you for the recommendations and the guide. If I can find a hotel in Rio I will do it and Trancoso. I have no idea how to get there but these are minor details The Etnia sounds a bit bohemian to me. We do like luxury, what can I say. But people do recommend it!
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Dec 4th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Not surprised at all to read that most places in Rio are already full for Reveillon. You really have to book around July to have any choice. Anyplace that is popular (read anyplace that has ever been mentioned in a guidebook in English or Portuguese)is likely to be booked early, since Brazilians like to travel at this time too.

As far as Trancoso, the easiest would be to fly from Rio to Porto Seguro. Get a taxi from the airport, probably not cheap; there is a small back road that avoids crossing the river by ferry. It's about 13 miles from Porto Seguro, but I think you may have to have to backtrack somewhat to get to the turnoff to the little backroad.
Or maybe the hotel can arrange a car.
Otherwise, take a taxi or bus to the ferry dock. Then take the balsa (ferry) across the Buranham river to Arraial D'Ajuda and get bus/taxi to Trancoso there.
(I have local friends with a car so I have never used any public transportation there.) It's relative remoteness is part of it's charm.

On the other hand, Buzios is a few hours by road from Rio.
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Dec 5th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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Okay, so we can find two hotels for New Years weekend! One is in Saint Theresa and the other is on Atlantica Avenue. I was thinking that the Atlantica might be better located but St Theresa sounds lovely. We can also find something in Buzios for before New Years. So the thought is to fly into Rio and either spend a day or two and than go on to Buzios or go directly to Buzios returning to Rio for the New Years weekend before we fly home for 4 days.

Any thoughts on any of this?

Thanks so much for your help!!
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Dec 5th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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This should give you a good idea of Reveillon on Copacabana beach:
http://www.360cities.net/image/revei...0.00,0.00,70.0

Santa Teresa is a charming neighborhood of lovely buildings set on top of a hill. The bondinho trolley that was one main form of transportation up the hill is not running (due to an accident a few months ago), so you would have to taxi up and down the hill (and some taxi are reluctant to go up) every time, or take one of the buses. There are some nice restaurants, shops, and places to stay, but it would IMO be considered a gentrifying neighborhood in which not every street is safe to walk. Nice place to take a day trip, eat at Aprazivel, look at some very good quality craft shops, have a drink at Bar do Mineiro, and see the Chacara do Ceu museum.

The view from Santa teresa over the city:
http://www.360cities.net/image/02-fo...0.00,0.00,70.0

Part of the neighborhood, showing the bondinho tracks:
http://www.360cities.net/image/largo...0.00,0.00,70.0

Before you plan Rio vs. Buzios (first, middle, or last), check the multi-night packages (usually Dec. 28-Jan 2)for Reveillon that are most common at Rio hotels and might effect those plans.

Here's Av. Atlantica as seen from one of the kiosks on the sidewalk next to the beach:
http://www.360cities.net/image/av-at...42,-18.64,70.0
(I think the tower that has the blue Othon sign is the Othon Palace hotel. The chain has several Rio properties.)
That location is quite convenient to all sights and for the fireworks.

And a bit of Buzios:
http://www.fotobolha.com.br/tourvirt...our/index.html
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Dec 8th, 2012, 04:33 AM
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Thank you for the photos. In the photo Buzios looks a bit run down. Is this the case? How does one know what the star rating is in Brazil?
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Dec 8th, 2012, 06:12 AM
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I really don't know how to comment on the issue of Brazil in general often appearing a bit rundown in certain areas. For example, some people are utterly enchanted by Salvador, Bahia and others find it dauntingly and offputtingly crumbling. I merely think it's all part of the experience.
It's also hard to advise on star ratings. You would have to have some experience in Brazil to compare for yourself. Although the prices are often equal, perhaps some 4 to 5 star properties in Brazil would be rated 3.5 to 4 elsewhere.

Here are some more impressions of Buzios:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C83Vc3GQxpQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZicWQzXzyo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bb0HSZD_Ys
Remember Bardot was there way back in the 60s when it was a small, modest fishing village. The attraction is the beaches and the proximity to Rio.

and some views of Casas Brancas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBtcOBnx6eg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeWT6sHLcKs

The grounds and beach of the Sheraton in Vidigal. You can see the city beachfront towers off in the distance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0mLlCARSYU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKEgdoiC92k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkpvmgzPXV8

It would be useful if you did a trip report after your visit.
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