Published: May 16th 2011May 16th 2011
Well, here we are in the last lounge waiting for the last flight - flight 9 of our RTW3 trip.
As we blogged last time, the weather in Rio has been a bit wet and we have been dodging the rain the fair bit. But when the sun comes out, and it has done, it has been fabulous.
Saturday involved travelling into Centro which is actually a decent 15 minutes ride on the Metro. Half an hour by the time you have got down to the platforms and back, but it is an effective way to get around this very large city. We took the famous vintage tram ride up he hill to Santa Teresa. It is a fantastic ride and passes over a very high viaduct (64m high, as I recall) before flogging up winding cobbled streets to the delightfully bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. There was a literary festival going on - not much use to us - but it meant that the area was very busy and buzzing. The festival was taking place in an old ruined house that that has been converted into a cultural centre, and after a steep climb it afforded good views fo the city - better if it had been clear, but in fact it was grey and spitting rain. Still, that was good, as was the visit to the tiny Tram museum. Cathy was very patient while I poked around. I was very patient while Cathy poked around all the neat little shops.. A lovely area that I was keen to revisit and that Cathy enjoyed. After a good lunch - these Brazilians know how to lunch - we headed back and did some more local exploration. Dinner was a light pasta (after that lunch), but it was sublime and reinforced Steves desire to get good at Italian Cooking, followed by yet more Caiparinhas on the beach. That is, until the rain sent us scuttling for base.
Sunday we awoke to fine clear blue skies and the sun. Quickly decided to do Santa Teresa again to get all the photos that we should have had before. Will do one more blog when home with some of the pics. Then Cathy had spotted this festival thing - Fiera de Sao Christovao. This looked do-able on the map by public transport... it was not. We travelled out miles on the train, then got tangled up in some sort or mass religous meeting (it was Sunday but this was not just Church). There were thousands of people and it was nearly as bad as the football crowds in BA. Once we we clear of that we got directions - well, sort of - from a bus driver, and walked 20 minutes until we got involved in what can only be described as a park full of boy scouts - a veritable Jamboree !! This was not really our thing, but it turned out that there was a free bus to ferry the scouts and guides around, and that this bus went past the Feira location. Are you following this - it is complicated.... Fianlly and after 2 hours travelling we got to this place, paid 3 Reis - about a pound each - to get in and wondered what the hell we were into.
Well, we had got out and about with the locals on their Sunday frolics in several places - in Hong Kong on our trip to Chueng Chau, in Sydney when we went to Manley Beach, and at the cemetery (to see Evita, of course) and the handicrafts market in Buenos Aires - but nothing had prepared us for this event. It was mad, bad, and huge fun.... At one point we had to get through a dancing throng. The only way to do this was to dance through.... after which an elderly gentlemen tapped Steve on the shoulder, shook him by the hand and complimented him on his style.... This was weird enough, but the same thing happend to Cathy (who has a better wiggle, it has to be said). We had a huge lunch, listing to three band playing frantic Samba music AT THE SAME TIME. It was so deafening that we could not hear each other, but the lunch of yet more BBQ beef was excellent.
The weather was still great, so it was finally time to head off to the Sugar Loaf mountain - this time by taxi, as the time was getting on. We had no problem with queues and Cathy had no real problem with the Cable car ride (C - in the sense that I did not faint or otherwise disgrace myself with anxiety. I loathe these things). There are two runs to get you to the top and the views from there are simply magnificant. The whole of Rio laid out before you, and as the sun set (we had deliberately timed our visit to catch both sun and sunset), the lights gradually came on all over the city, Christo Redentor was illuminated, and you realised that, yes, you actually were in Rio! A great end to a busy, but very satisfying, day.
And then it was today - Monday - and our last day of holiday. Facing a grim flight back to Blighty, we were determined to make the most of it. So we started by doing a walking tour of Centro - and finally found our shopping mojo. Then we headed back to Copacabana beach for caipirinhas - and discovered the most enormous waves crashing down onto the usually calm beach - and lots of daredevil young bodysurferes making the most of every last wavelet. Finally, a very late lunch, and off to the airport.
So that is that. Many thanks to all of you who have read and enjoyed our blog - especially to those who have been kind enough to correspond with us and send tips etc. We have appreciated them all.
Hope to see you all in the not too distant future!
Cathy and Steve