In 1925, at twenty-one years of age, my grandfather, who was born in Edinburgh, emigrated to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a partner with Price Waterhouse. He met and married a German girl and in 1943 my father Guilherme was born and became a Carioca – the name given to a person who is a native of Rio.
At the age of twelve my father was sent to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, where he was schooled until he turned sixteen and returned to Brazil to finish his education. A few years later he met and married my mother Graça, originally from Maceió.
Some years later, when I was six years old, my parents separated and my father brought my two brothers and I to London. Having transferred from their Rio office, my father was still working for Varig Brazilian Airlines and with the perk of free airline tickets we visited Brazil often, always stopping in Rio for a spell.
When people think of Brazil, Rio is the city that springs to mind; however, it is often mistaken for the capital. In fact, the newly built Brasilia took over that role from Rio in 1960. Rio is the only city outside of Europe to have been a capital of a European country, thanks to the Portuguese royal family who retreated there to escape Napoleon.
To me, there is nothing more breathtaking than the panoramic views of the city, both from the Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açứcar) and the Christ the Redeemer statue (Corcovado). From these viewpoints you can see the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema; the harbour and the Maracanã football stadium – the largest in South America and once in the world.