I hear Rio calling


I have two stories to tell you. The first is about the title of this post, and the second is related to the content of this post.

First though: we’re going to Rio de Janeiro next week!

Ok, that’s off my chest. Let’s talk about the title of this post, which might explain quite why I’m so excited about visiting Rio de Janeiro, beyond the obvious.

When I was young and attending university, my brother met a whole group of talented people who happened to have a band. As young people sometimes do. They wrote a lot of great music, with my all time favourite track being Rio Calling.

For me, the song is all about someone stuck at a place in their life that they don’t want to be, with the rain pouring down and life falling apart around them, with dreams of being somewhere exciting. Those dreams are of waking up on Rio’s Copacabana beach, listening to Samba music, and achieving what seems impossible.

It’s the kind of song that you can listen to, and have your life changed by.

Kerwin cork sunset umbrella rain man v3 scaled

Finally being able to visit Rio, living this dream life of ours, feels like the closing of a loop that began from the first time I heard the song, over a decade ago.

Suffice to say, I’ve been listening to Rio Calling quite a lot over the last few days since this project came together.

The band is called The Sneer. They’re not famous or anything, but they are worth your time to listen. Listen to them on MySpace here, and find gig listings on Facebook.

The other story is about why we’re going to Rio.

Just before we departed for Ecuador, Vera and I went out for dinner with my parents, who kindly invited us along for the evening. We went to a small restaurant by a lake in France which my parents had visited once before, some two months previous.

The important decision as to what wine to have to accompany our meal was arrived at. My Dad concluded that he would have the same wine as last time, as he had enjoyed it so much, and ordered a bottle.

Wine pouring into glass

The waitress raised her eyebrows, and remarked that this wasn’t the same wine he’d picked two months ago. She pointed at another bottle on the menu, and said that that was the wine he had chosen.

Not entirely sure, my Dad acquiesced to the opinion of the waitress, and went with her pick. When the wine came, he recognised the bottle as being the same.

Remembering the bottle of wine that someone ordered two months previously, on their only other visit, is to me, an example of incredible customer service. That, or my parents are worryingly memorable. I’m going with the former.

Our trip to Rio is all about customer service. You see, we’re partnering up with American Express, who are sending us over to Rio to seek out examples of exemplary customer service. Which could be anything from having a haircut (unlikely in my case), to an amazing waiter or waitress.


Earlier this year, American Express set out to prove scientifically (I love a bit of science) that while good customer service feels great, it can be good for you too. They also discovered that when we have a great service experience we want to tell others about it.

It turns out that great customer service experiences travel a long way. Like that story I just told you about our meal in France, arriving with you wherever you are in the world. And next week, we’re travelling to Rio de Janeiro to track down great service experiences and share them with you. And of course, listen to Rio Calling on Copacabana Beach.

© Laurence Norah - findingtheuniverse.com

We need your help

So, that’s our side of the story. Now we need your help. We’ve never been to Brazil, let alone Rio de Janeiro. We have no idea what to do, where to go, what to see, what to eat.

We’d love to hear your stories and recommendations. Have you been to Rio? Did you experience incredible customer service? We want to hear about it! Tell us what you know in the comments below.

And maybe we’ll be tracking down your experiences next week, to share with the world. Thanks for reading!

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