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Hadley, one of Meet’s Chicago team, just got back from an all-expenses paid trip to Rio de Janeiro! Along with 12 other qualifiers from our offices in London, New York and San Francisco, she spent a long weekend exploring the city. Now, she gives us a flavour of what happens when #meethitsrio…
"It was a unique incentive, a truly one of a kind experience."
I haven’t been out of the US since I was 15, so going to Brazil was incredibly exciting because it was an opportunity to experience an entirely new culture and landscape!
However, there were a couple of hurdles to overcome before getting on the plane. Specifically, I didn’t have a passport! I managed to have my application expedited, but then I found out about the next hurdle…I also needed a visa. I anxiously waited for it, wondering if I would actually be able to make the trip, but thankfully it arrived just in time and I was good to go!
After a couple of glasses of champagne at the airport we flew to Miami to meet the rest of the qualifiers from the US, before taking our red eye flight to Brazil which landed early the next morning. Without much sleep I was running on adrenaline as we set off to the hotel. The drive took us right through the centre of Rio – what a culture shock! I’ve never been anywhere quite like it; a bustling city set against the most incredible landscape, the atmosphere was incomparable.
We stayed at the luxurious Fasano hotel, inspired by the Bossa Nova era of the 50’s, it was incredibly glamourous. Shortly after we arrived the qualifiers from the UK joined us and we all headed straight for the rooftop infinity pool and bar! Overlooking the iconic Ipanema beach, with the Dois Irmaos Hill (Two Brothers Hill) at one edge of the bay and islands scattering the ocean in front of us, the view was beautiful. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to have our first Caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian cocktail that’s very strong and very sweet (the first of many)!
Once we’d all caught up and enjoyed the view we went back to our rooms to change and then headed to a local steak house recommended by the hotel for dinner. Brazilian steak is famed for its barbecue style and sheer size; the restaurant didn’t disappoint, it was honestly the biggest and best steak I’ve ever had! Then, after dinner, we went to Barreto Londra, one of the top clubs in Rio which was conveniently located in our hotel. It became our favourite place to end the night whilst we were in Rio, dancing away to the live DJ until the early hours…even if he didn’t know any of our recommendations.
The next morning, we were up early to enjoy the hotels buffet breakfast before heading on a private tour of the city. Our guide Julie was brilliant, not only did she take us to see all of the iconic sites but to some unique local places too, giving us a taste of Rio’s culture.
We started the tour by driving up into the mountains to visit Christ the Redeemer, learning about the history of the favelas along the way. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great and heavy mist shrouded the statue, so we didn’t get the best view. But, it was still an interesting day to go because it was the statue’s birthday so, comically, amongst the fog there were people eating cake!
The next stop was Santa Teresa, the first residential area in Rio, where we saw some local art. Then we took a tram downtown to see Cinelândia Square which is in an area full of gorgeous French architecture. Afterwards, we drove to the famous mosaic Selaron Steps where Snoop dog and Pharrell shot the music video for Beautiful.
Throughout the day we stopped at various stalls, restaurants and bars to try the local food, which is so rich and full of flavour, as well as have a few more Caipirinhas. My favourite of all of these local places was one of our last stops in Erca. It was a little restaurant, on the edge of the bay that was completely open to the elements, where we tried more local food and sat along a wall facing the sea just taking in the epic view.
We spent our second night at the most incredible restaurant called Aprazivel in Santa Teresa. Up in the hills surrounded by the lush rainforest, overlooking twinkling lights from the city below, the setting was magical! It felt like being in a tree house!
Later, we headed to a cocktail bar called Explore which was not too far from the restaurant, but a bit of a struggle to get to in heels across the steep cobbles. It was worth the walk with equally great views and more cocktails. Then we went back to the hotel to our favourite club, Barreto Londra.
Saturday morning was more leisurely, after breakfast we relaxed by the pool sipping cocktails in the gorgeous weather. Then, it was time for our private yacht trip which took us out of the bay to the Atlantic Ocean, giving us a view of Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer from the bay. It was such a cool experience, lounging on the front of a boat drinking beer and cocktails with such amazing scenery as a backdrop. Later, we anchored in a little inlet so that we could jump off and swim in the ocean, before docking again to watch the sunset whilst the crew cooked steak for us on the grill.
It was after dark when we got back, and we had just enough time to change before our last dinner in Rio. We spent the final night in a laid-back local restaurant dining on tapas and paella, something I’d never tried before, drinking even more Caipirinhas and enjoying the local atmosphere.
It was a great trip for the mixture of people who qualified, whether you were there for the nightlife or a more laid-back holiday there was something for everyone! Which is why our last day couldn’t have been more fitting; a stroll down Ipanema beach before having oysters, mussels and our last Caipirinhas in a local bar. Then it was time to head back to reality.
It was an amazing experience. I grew up in the Midwest and although I’ve travelled in America, I’ve spent most of my life in Indiana and Illinois and never imagined I’d go to Brazil.
I got into sales for lots of reasons, one of which was to get out of the environment I was used to and see the world. Even then, I never imagined I’d have a job that would have an opportunity like this. It was a unique incentive, a truly one of a kind experience.