151001 Rio de Janeiro

Our hotel is right on the Copacabana Beach Strip and there is so much going on down there – all night – we are on the 5th floor with a view to kill.

Today, we lived in hope. Hope that the two major sites of Rio de Janeiro were going to have clear views of the city. But our hope did not turn out as the postcards show. We had mist in the air.

As we were leaving for the first segment of the tour to ‘go get up close’ to Christ the Redeemer’, the mountain was clear. However, after the long cog-wheel tram up the side of the mountain, plus 222 steps, the mist had enshrouded the famous statue and we could hardly see the top of the head. It looked like the mist was there for the long term so the ‘tourist traps’ got browsed again and souvenirs purchased. The statue of “Christ the Redeemer” was built in 1927 and originally was not to be a religious symbol. It is now considered one of the best views of a major city in the world.

We came down and on the way to a famous restaurant for lunch, we visited where the famous Carnival de Rio is held. At first, I thought we could see a line up of football fields but they were the grand stands along the parade route. The Carnival has nothing to do with the Gay and Lesbian Parade of Sydney; it seems Sydney thinks it is though. The Carnival has 10 or 12 teams that have designated colours used in each years’ parade. There are 4000 members on each team. They have to compose appropriate music each year. All their costumes have to be identical to the plan and they are all judged on many many points. It is really competitive. At this site, there is a store where you can put on some of the remarkable costumes and have your photos taken. What an array to choose from.

We visited a very different cathedral. I didn’t feel like it was a Roman Catholic Cathedral, rather a religion of another category. Big, expansive but without the normal trimmings of a cathedral constructed in the 1600’s or so. I like it which is kind of against my trend of “not another cathedral” after seeing my fair share in Europe and Scandinavia.

Lunch was in a rather unique restaurant in the busy city area. It was constructed in 1863 but the food was ‘fresh’ we were told – it was, and lots of it. There was a waiter guy there who had been working as a waiter there for 63 years.

After lunch, we took a cable car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain. Sugar Loaf is a peak situated at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 meters above the harbour, its name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated loaf sugar. It is known worldwide for the cable car and the panoramic views of the city. There are really two cable cars, one to a shorter island and the second to an even higher island. The views are very misty and we can’t see anything. But an ice cream makes up for the lack of the vista the mountain is known for – NOT!

On our return at 4:00pm, we have a free afternoon which allows us to take dinner in one of the seaside restaurants and then a stroll along the esplanade to a night market. More tee-shirts for the relatives and now we have an extra suitcase – full. When the group left Australia, we had 29 suitcases. Now we have 41. Not bad – its a way of supporting the economy in South America.

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