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“The world is a book,” Saint Augustine said, “and those who do not travel read only one page.” In recent months, I have devoted my one page of American Way to some of the destinations that collectively fill the “book” that is the American Airlines global network. I would like to continue that trend this month with a brief (no one page could do it justice) appreciation of one of my favorite cities: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

Few, if any, cities embody the romance and adventure of travel better than Rio, which is located on a strip of Brazil’s Atlantic coast with a shoreline that runs east and west. Rio’s physical setting includes sandy white beaches that quickly rise to stunning peaks and hills covered by tropical forests.

 

Between the mountains and the sea is a metropolis of roughly six million people. Rio is the second-biggest commercial center in Brazil, after São Paulo (also an American Airlines destination), with industries producing everything from ships to electronics to textiles.

 

In Rio’s historic downtown neighborhoods, you can stroll down cobblestoned streets and through grand plazas and admire gold-covered churches and a variety of architectural styles. The city’s nightlife and music scenes are vibrant and world-renowned.

 

For many, it is Rio’s iconic attractions that define the Cidade Maravilhosa (“Marvelous City”), as it’s known. On the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, which have inspired songwriters around the world, women and men model the latest in minimalist swimwear. But inspiring views in Rio are not confined to the beaches. A funicular will transport you to the top of Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar) mountain . At nearly 1,300 feet high, the peak offers views of Copacabana and Ipanema, the Guanabara Bay , the fortresses that once protected Cariocas (natives of Rio), and favelas (the very poor neighborhoods on the slopes of the mountains). From there, you will also be able to see Tijuca National Park. One of the largest urban forests in the world, it contains hundreds of plant and wildlife species, many endangered, found only in the Atlantic Rainforest . Also visible is Mount Corcovado, on top of which is the world-famous monument Christ the Redeemer. The 98-foot-high Christ, arms spread wide over the bay, the mountains, and the millions of people living in or visiting Rio, is perhaps the city’s most enduring and most inspiring image.

 

The secular and the divine seem to commingle in Rio like nowhere else. To wit, it’s hard to think of the city without conjuring images of Carnaval, the exuberant annual pre-Lent festival that kicks off four days prior to Ash Wednesday. While the religious aspect of Carnaval may have faded over time, a powerful spirit still enlivens the city as round-the-clock parties and parades set Rio ablaze with streamers, lights, and samba rhythms. Carnaval is more than a once-a-year event. It is woven into the lives of the literally millions of Cariocas who participate as dancers, musicians, singers, costume and fl oat designers, or just revelers. If you can’t be in Rio during Carnaval, try to go during the fall, when festival rehearsals begin.

 

If the world is truly a book, as Saint Augustine suggested, then Rio de Janeiro is a chapter I’m sure you’ll never forget. Of course, wherever you’re flying today, I want to thank you for making American Airlines part of your travel story. Have a great trip!

 

 

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Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman & CEO
American Airlines