Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day Sixteen – Rio 2016 and Travel

We saved the best meeting for last!  Since Jamie, Alex, and I had a different flight than the rest of the group (we had to one-way to Sao Paulo and then take our return flight), we didn’t take the Metro to the Rio 2016 building with the rest of the group.  Instead, we hailed a taxi from the hotel and loaded up our luggage and went to the Rio 2016 location.  Upon arriving, we went through metal detectors, and then our luggage was placed in a locked room accessible only by security, so we knew that it would be safe.  Gus and Marcello gave us an overview from the perspective of Rio 2016 Venue Management’s challenges, design, and plans for the games.  It was great to get an overview of their plans for the venues and also for the legacy items that are going to come from the games, including one of the buildings being turned into 4 schools (whose locations are still TBD).  We were given a quick tour of the building, including being able to see the different Olympic Torches that were used over the past 10-12 games. 

When our meeting was done, Jamie, Alex and I collected our bags, hailed a cab, and made the (long, treacherous) trip back to the US!  It was a great trip, but I was excited to get home and sleep in my own bed and stop living out of a suitcase!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day Fifteen – Nike and Samba Show

Raul from Be a Local met us in the hotel lobby to lead us to the Nike store.  Today, we would experience the Metro!  It ended up working better than I expected, we even just “missed” the timeslot of the all-women’s train (6-9a) by getting on the train at 9:03a.  It’s clear that the Metro isn’t as built up in Rio as it is in like, Boston, as we had a long walk from where we disembarked to the Nike Store. 
We started at the Nike store that mainly focused on runners.  We were led up to the third floor conference room where we received a presentation showing us the past FY and the 3-year (through FY 2018) plan for Nike in Rio.  The idea of Glo-cal, which Nike is using to combine Global and Local together seems to really be working for the thirty year old brand.  After the presentation, we were taxied over to the main Football store for Nike, in Ipanema.  There we were able to try on soccer boots and test them out on the third floor turf and see how Nike ID works.  Our Nike ambassador, Hector, spoke perfect English, and we learned that he was an exchange student in Maine at Oswego Lake a few years ago!  Fortunately, when we were done at the Nike store, we learned that we were just 5 blocks from our hotel, so we were able to walk back to the hotel.

While the rest of the crew spent their afternoon on the beach, I laid low in the hotel room with some stomach distress.  It was the first time my stomach was upset over the trip, so I consider that a success!  That evening, though, I was prepared and ready for our 7pm pickup for the Samba show.  We were taken to a venue where we were served dinner on the first floor and then went up to the second floor for the show, at 10p.  The show was less Samba and more Brazilian dance-esque.  The boys were in their element with all of the thongs being shown by the women!  It was fun, though, and they did a great job with all of the costume changes.

We got home relatively late, so we called it a night and went straight to bed.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day Fourteen – US Consulate and Octagon

After making it through the weekend in Rio, we picked back up on doing educational activities.  Our first stop was at the US Consulate.  There, we were received by a bunch of members of the Olympic Coordination Committee who gave us an overview of their involvement of bringing US Citizens in both prior to and for the Olympic Games and their plans that are in place for the Rio 2016 games. 
We then traveled over to Octagon Brazil, where we learned about how they approach Sports Marketing in Brazil with athletes, consumers, and their large-brand customers.  The most interesting part of this talk was the research that Octagon has put into finding what drives people, called Passion Drivers.  They have identified 12 passion drivers that they use to help them define targeted promotions for their customers.  It was extremely clear that these guys have the experience and knowledge in what they are doing and they’re doing it well, even with their client, Michael Phelps!

We ended up with an open rest of the afternoon (our meeting got bumped by a visit from the President of Brazil), so we got back to the hotel and most of us went our own separate ways. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day Thirteen – Tour of Rio (Christ the Redeemer, Escadaria Selaron, Sugarloaf)

Originally, our itinerary had us planning to go to the Ipanema Hippie Fair on this morning.  However, after talking to our tour guide Alex, we learned that the fair is open from 10a-6p, so we didn’t have enough time in the morning before our planned activities to go and get back.  So we decided to wait and see if there was time when we were done with our Tour of Rio.
Alex was our tour guide again, and picked us up in a van provided by Be a Local.  We started first by driving up the hillside to Corcovado, the mountain that has Christ the Redeemer at the top of it.  After ascending many steps, we were able to be directly in front of the statue that we were able to see from our hotel window (drastically different in size, though!). 

After leaving CTR, we drove through a few small sections of the city, including a stop in Sta. Teresa village, where we were able to get out of the van and visit a local art shop.  We walked a bit around Sta. Teresa and then got back onto the bus and headed over to Escadaria Selaron, also known as “the steps” in Rio.  Jo mentioned that the steps were featured on an episode of The Amazing Race, but that’s not a show that I watch regularly.  These steps were formed by a Chilean artist, Jorge Sealron, in the 1990s, when he started to repair the steps outside of his house and covering them in colorful tiles, which ended up coming from all over the globe.  In total, there are 250 steps with over 2000 tiles from over 60 different countries.  We even found a Maine tile!

After the steps, we headed over to Sugarloaf, which is located on Guanabara Bay.  Originally, Sugarloaf was thus named by the Portuguese people who came upon Brazil by ship.  The mountain was white, because it was covered in seagull poo.  Today, the mountain is regular dirt (brown) colored, as locals harvest and sell the seagull poo as fertilizer.  To get to the top, you take two cable cars.  The first leg (1 KM) takes you to the top of Urca Mountain, which gave us a great view of Copacabana and CTR.  The next leg took us to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (396m tall) where we were greeted with beautiful 360 degree views of the beaches of Rio.  When we descended back to Urca, we were greeted by a few monkeys in the staging equipment near a few of the restaurants.  Though the signs say specifically NOT to feed the animals, our tour guide, Alex, was able to get a few pieces of banana from a nearby smoothie stand and lure the monkeys out from hiding.  It was amazing to see the Mama and baby try to reach (but not too far!) the fruit from his hand. 

While a few of our group were dropped off at the Market after our Sugarloaf tour, the rest of us went back to the hotel.  We were ready for a shower and some downtime.  We met back in the hotel lobby at 7pm to head over to La Trattoria Rio, Copacabana (literally around the corner from our hotel) to meet with Lenny Abbey, the head of the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee Relations and Service for Rio 2016 and also met with an Olympic-scholar and her son to hear about her work on the Transforma Program within Brazil.  It was interesting to hear their two opposing viewpoints on the changes that had just been released for the 2020 Olympics and beyond by the IOC.