Wednesday, July 13, 2016

South American Adventure - Part Three - Rio de Janeiro

Day 9 - Seeing the highlights of the city.

Rio de Janeiro, and our next stop Santiago, Chile, would be a change of pace.  Iguazu and the Amazon were all about nature.  Now we were returning to the urban for a few days.

Our tour didn't start until the afternoon so we slept in this morning.  It was nice after all our early mornings on the Amazon.  We slept in so late we missed the hotel's free breakfast so we settled on room service instead.

Our guide and driver picked us up and we headed for Christ the Redeemer.  It was an overcast day ... it would actually be worse the next day ... and my hopes for clear views were dashed.  We took the train up to the base of the statue and walked up the final couple hundred steps.
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Christ the Redeemer in a brief clearing of the clouds.
The statue was engulfed in clouds and mist.  Despite this we still managed to get some good pictures when the haze cleared for a few seconds at a time.  The view of the city was never really clear and offered only a few tantalizing glimpses.  Some people have said that the statue is a disappointment and is smaller than they imagined.  For me it was exactly what I expected and I wasn't disappointed at all.

We got back in the car and drove around historic districts and different parts of the city that offered vistas.  We stopped at a convent but, unfortunately, it was being used for a wedding and we could not go in.
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Looking up in the Mayan pyramid inspired national cathedral.
From there we went to the national cathedral.  The cathedral was built based on the design of a Mayan temple.  A very unique design with some incredible stained glass windows.

Lastly we took the cable car up to the top of Sugar Loaf.  The views had cleared somewhat since earlier in the day and we watched Rio light up as day turned to night and the city turned on its lights.
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View from Sugar Loaf mountain, the city lights starting to come on.  The airport is on the right.
Our guide dropped us off at a all you can eat BBQ place not far from our hotel on Copacabana Beach.  Due to a misunderstanding Camila did not join us (She thought we were tired and wanted to be alone ... we were tired but her company would have been welcome).  You started by getting vegetables from a buffet.  Then the meat parade started.  One by one waiters would show up with some type of meat on skewers.  Every piece of meat looked better that the prior one.  Before I knew it my plate was full of a heap of meat.  The most exotic was wild boar which tasted awesome.  We ended up turning away waiters before we even got to the fowl course.  I think we just didn't have the stomach capacity to truly enjoy the meals we were offered on this trip.  I would have to fast for a day before going back to that place.
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My plate ... more meat was added until I said "No More!"
While we saw many of the famous Favelas from a distance, we chose not to visit one.  Neither of us feel comfortable participating in poverty tourism.
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A favela from a distance.
Day 10 - A "free" day in Rio.

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A statue of Antônio Carlos Jobim writer of
"The Girl from Ipanema".
It was Sunday and we were supposed to have a free day.  After talking it over we decided to take Camila up on her offer to go with us.  I think the Wife would have preferred going it on our own but Rio is just too big of a city to really navigate on your own and I think we ended up going to and seeing more with a guide and driver.

Camila picked us up at the hotel and we walked to a nearby church for Mass.  We were early so we walked through an open air market in a park across from the church.  We returned to the church and sat down.  Camila asked for the Wife's dad's name and she had the Mass said in Cecil's name.  It was very sweet and moving for the Wife.

Next we took a cab to Ipanema beach.  We walked along the beach heading toward an old fort, one of three that used to defend the bay from the French.  From there we walked along the beach a little longer until we got picked up by our driver.

We asked Camila to take us to two places.  The first was the Selerón Steps.  The tiled steps are a project of a Chilean artist and were dedicated to the Brazilian people.  The steps were a bit crowded but you could still appreciate the folk art aspects of the tiles.

Next was a drive through the nearby Santa Teresa district of Rio.  Normally you would take a tram that runs on top of an old aqueduct but, sadly, it doesn't run on Sundays.  The Santa Teresa district, one of the oldest in the city, was once a rich area but is now an artist hangout.  I found that everywhere we went in South America graffiti was everywhere - some very artistically done.  Combine artists and graffiti and the walls and streets of Santa Teresa were amazing.  I love street art.
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The Selerón Steps.
We ended in the ruins of an old socialites home at the top of a hill.  The views were very nice and there was a band playing.  We ended up nearby at a place to shop for more magnets and souvenirs.
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Cool graffiti in the Santa Teresa district.
Our next stop was going to be a place to see Christ the Redeemer lit up but, as our luck should have it, fog rolled in just as we arrived and you could barely see the statue.  We still got a few shots for other vantage points.
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One of our last views of Christ the Redeemer.
It was getting late and we drove around a bit trying to find a restaurant that was open.  It took three or four tries.  Since we felt bad for not having Camila and Cosme with us for dinner the night before we asked them to join us and we payed for their dinner.

Day 11 - Onward to our next country.

Our third morning in Rio was another late one.  It was nice to have these late mornings to rejuvenate.  We were picked up and taken to the airport.  After a brief delay we were on our way to Santiago, Chile.

In Santiago we were picked up by a guide and driver.  On the way to the hotel she gave us maps and went over where we would be staying and what was in the area.  The next day would be another free day and this one we would do on our own.

Pictures of the Rio de Janeiro can be found in my South America 2016-06 Flickr album.

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