Published: April 6th 2012April 6th 2012
Rio de Janeiro International Airport.
We jump into a taxi. “Copacabana”, I say, “and make it snappy”.
Immediately, the taxi comes alive with Latin rhythms, blaring brass, and the taxi driver bursts into song !
We couldn’t believe it. It was Barry Manilow himself, driving our taxi!!
What a coincidence!?!
Alright. alright, it wasn’t Barry.
His name was Larry, He was a showgirl. With yellow feathers in his hair and a dress cut down to size. (Gareth!)
Apparently, the song “Copacabana” is not about the beach of the same name in Rio. “Copacabana” is a Bolivian word meaning “endless horizon” and is also the name of a town on the shores of Lake Titticaca as well as another place in Cuba, and it is this town that the song I about (though I note that Wiki says it’s about a night club in New York. We’ll just have to ask Barry, or Larry as he prefers to be known, I guess).
Anyway, we arrived at our hotel and checked in. The receptionist was tall and tan, and young and lovely. It was obvious where she was from. (Gareth, I’ve told you once!)
OK, OK but how often do I get the chance !?!
Anyway . . . shall we start ?
Ees mean “reever” in Espania – si?
Janeiro – ees mean January – si?
Rio de Janerio – January River?
Except of course, there is no river here.
In the 1500s, when the Portugese were busy plundering “new” lands, they liked to name their new settlements after saints (being good Catholic people who liked to murder and plunder indigenous peoples). When they landed here in 1502, it was the 1st
January - All Saints Day – so there was no specific saint they could choose. They assumed, from the shape of the natural bay, that this was the mouth of a reever, sorry, river, and so they called it “January River”.
They must have felt like right Charlies (or is it Carloses?) when they eventually discovered there was no reever, sorry, river after all. But the name stuck. (Actually, it was subsequently renamed as Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro after the patron saint of the Portugese monarch in 1565).
Anyway, wind forward 510 years
and here we are.
Our hotel is on Copacabana beach and we can see the beach and the famoos Christ the Redeemer statue from our hotel window. On our first day we went for a wander round the area and were surprised to discover how much like Blackpool it is!! The streets behind Copacabana beach reminded us of Abingdon Street! Faceless shops and markets selling all sorts of tat. Not what we expected from the glitzy, razamataz image you get of Rio. We also wandered round Ipanema the next day and found pretty much the same thing. We haven’t been downtown yet, so are reserving judgement.
It’s now the day after tomorrow, so yesterday (or the day before yesterday if you’re reading this tomorrow, or a few days ago, if you are reading this in a few days) was tour day and we did Sugar Loaf mountain and Corcovado.
Sugar Loaf mountain is the famous lump you see in the picture postcards of Rio. Back in the olden days, before the British invented refined white sugar, it used to be delivered in brown sticky lumps, known as sugar loaves (mmm – sugar loaves) and people scraped off
bits as and when they needed it. Sugar loaves no longer exist, but the mountain does and the name has stuck (what with it being so sticky and all).
A quick couple of cable car rides away, you get a great view of Rio. There is no doubt about it, this is one of the most beautiful city locations in the world (it has the most amount of rainforest in a city than any other location in the world).
In the afternoon, we did Corcovado, which is the name of the mountain on which the famous Christ the Redeemer statue (or Lord of the Guinea Pigs as He is known to some) is situated. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the view from top is just breathtaking.
Christ Himself was pretty impressive. Didn’t say much. Just stood there, with His Arms open. People standing in front of him striking the same pose for the cameras.
(And here’s a picture of me at the Christ in Rio. And here’s a picture of me on the beach. And here’s a picture of me drunk. And here’s a picture of me on the toilet. And here’s a
picture of me asleep. And here’s a picture of me. And here’s another picture of me. Oh look, they’re all pictures of me).
People keep asking us if we’d like them to take a picture of us with our camera. We generally refuse. (And here’s a picture of me refusing to have a picture of me taken ).
OK – last night was night out on the town.
We were told that the hottest, hippest place for a night out in Rio is a place called Rio Sensorium, a three floor, bar, restaurant, music, DJ, live Latin lounge venue, so we put our finest dancing gear on, our best teeth in, and ventured out into the hot sticky night.
And how right they were.
It was hot.
It was hip.
It was banging.
Food and drink flowed freely. Live bands on simultaneously in different rooms. Latin DJ set later. We danced late into the night until our inner mummies and daddies told us it was way past our bed time (and if our inner mummies and daddies think it’s late it must be late :-).
After a mad taxi ride home
(Latin temperament), we stumbled into bed and we still haven’t got up yet. In fact, I am still asleep and I’m dreaming I’m writing the blog.
Only a couple of days left now before we are home and what a trip it’s been! Don’t forget Sat 28th
April is Party Night Chez Nous so plenty of time to sort new frocks out.
Looking forward to it.
Caio. Extract From the Diary of Stoolio Inglesias
April 2012 - I hesitate to type words like “gargantuan” and “lungfish” any more so as not to tempt fate (given what happened last time), so let’s just say we are back to the good old Leviathan days and leave it at that shall we?
However, I think it is fair to say that I have realised the Latin sanitation systems simply aren’t up to our heavyweight European efforts and I have now resorted to “biting” my samples off into small manageable chunks. I do find this somewhat upsetting as I have no doubt that by rights, I should have an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by now. (Having said that, I am aware that you
need two formal witnesses to qualify so I may need to repeat my performances once I am home anyway, I’m sure the opportunity will arise. Any volunteers?).
There are more photos below