K’s Take has been missing the past few weeks. That is because I have been busy vacationing in Recife, Brazil.
The city that everyone knows from Brazil is Rio, but Recife is not Rio. Recife is north of Rio, about a three-day car ride, which I would not suggest you do. For the most part, tourists don’t travel to Recife, but that does not mean it doesn’t have a certain charm. I chose to go here for vacation because my best friend from high school lives there, so she acts as my personal tour guide.
The most expensive part of the trip is the flight at about $1,300. It is also the most tedious part of the trip.
I chose to fly straight out of Tri-Cities Airport because the stress of finding a ride to a bigger airport was not worth the possible savings. So, I flew from the Tri-Cities to Charlotte to Miami to Rio to Recife. It took a total of about 34 hours.
The key to having a comfortable trip when the layovers and flights are so long is to have the things you need. No matter if you are flying in or out of a hot city, wear breezy pants and bring a jacket or sweatshirt, because planes can get cold on overnight flights. Most planes provide a blanket and pillow, but I still find myself not being able to sleep because I am so cold. So, bring an extra sweatshirt and wear pants.
Next, bring some snacks. The food in the airport is OK, but it is expensive. I brought my own high-protein snacks and was happy I did so.
One tip that I didn't really follow and wish I had was to stay hydrated. Because you aren’t really moving around while you are waiting on flights and on the plane, it doesn’t feel like you need to drink water, but I regretted it once I landed in Recife.
Just do your future self a favor and drink some water. If you don't typically drink much water, you can set reminders on your phone and even bring some water flavoring to make it taste better.
FOOD TO-DO LIST
I had many dishes and foods that were on my list to eat while I was there. This trip was my second time in Recife, so I already had food that I had last time that had been in my dreams since I left last time. In no particular order, I wanted:
Tapioca: This is a classic dish found in a part of Recife called Olinda. At the top of Olinda is a view of the rest of Recife from the hillside, with so many vendors all selling tapioca. Tapioca itself is a type of starch that's poured into a pan to make what looks a little like an omelet. Chefs can put really anything you want in it, but the classic combination is cheese and coconut. The first time I had it, I thought it was OK, but when I found myself back home, I truly missed it.
Acai: We have acai in the U.S., I know, but acai originates from Brazil and they do it differently, for much cheaper. Instead of it being a healthy granola go-to as it is in the States, it's a dessert in Brazil. They put condensed milk, powdered milk (which sounds terrible but is actually really good), some more fruits like banana and strawberries, and maybe even some Nutella. There was a shop right next to my friend’s house that sold a whole bowl for 8 reals, which is $2. To my despair, the shop had closed down permanently, so the only acai I could get was from a mall chain. It really didn’t live up to my dreams. 4/10
Carrot cake: In America, it is a cream cheese and (sometimes) chunky carrot cake. Do not be confused; I love this version of carrot cake. Brazil’s twist on it, however, is exquisite. My friend makes it herself, and I watch over her shoulder and help when needed. (My cooking/baking skills are not the best.) The Brazilian way is to make sure that there are no carrot chunks in it; really, you shouldn’t even be able to tell there is a vegetable in it. Then, instead of cream cheese icing, it is chocolate. I promise you, it is amazing. The tradition was to make it and then invite all our surfer friends over -- who can’t speak English, and I can’t speak Portuguese -- and bond over our shared love for carrot cake. This food experience did not disappoint. 9/10
Rodizio grill: These can be found in America, but they are just called Brazilian steakhouses. You usually pay about $50 to go to one in the U.S., and then you get unlimited meats that they cut off of a metal stick for you, plus access to the buffet-style food that includes beans, rice, seafood, and other sides. In America, they are very fancy, something you would dress up for, and the ambiance would be dark and, frankly, romantic. In Brazil, it is not like this. It is about 50 reals to eat, which is $10. The way you eat is the same -- same buffet, same servers going around to each table cutting off slices of different kinds of steak and meats -- but the ambiance is much more casual for the most part. In the one we went to, there was even a plastic McDonald’s-style playground for kids. However, there was still a pianist playing in the background. It was odd and unique, to say the least. It was a good experience and for only about $10 -- it ended up being a little more because we also had two pitchers of fresh orange juice -- it was good. However, I do have to say that the quality of the food, and the enjoyment factor, is better at the steakhouses in America, which makes a little bit of sense since they are pricier. 7/10
Meat sticks: You either hate them or love them. I love them. You can get them on the street for 8 reals, so less than $2. The haters, including my friend and host, would say you have no idea what kind of meat it is and you can get food poisoning, but I thought they were amazing and a staple. I highly enjoyed. 10/10
Oysters: Again, I had many haters on this food choice because of where I bought them. It is very common for fishermen and other people to sell food on the beach, and common foods they sell are oysters and shrimps. I was not a big fan of the shrimp, but the oysters are amazing. They get them straight from the water and sell them by the dozen for cheap -- much cheaper than at a seafood restaurant in America. I enjoyed them, but every local thought it was disgusting that I was eating them from the vendor. Why? They might not be clean. Luisa, my friend, even said later that there was an oil spill about a year and a half ago and that there were still fish turning up with oil in their system. So, maybe it was a little risky to eat twelve oysters coming from this part of the ocean, but I enjoyed them thoroughly. Taste: 10/10. Safety: 3/10
Fruit and produce: I went during the “winter season,” meaning the fruit and produce that I had fallen in love with last time I was there during the summer were not in season, like the pineapple. There were still some good ones, though. The coolest thing I had was the avocado. It was as big as my head, and tasted so fresh. Other fruit included guava, passion fruit and acerola, which were all still good. 7/10
I have many more things to say about this trip, so stay tuned for more experiences and opinions from yours truly.