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Published: January 12th 2019
Today we are going sightseeing in Rio. So, on a sunny summer Saturday, we set of by Metro from Copacabana to the city centre. Not surprisingly, we are travelling in the opposite direction to almost everyone else. We buy Metro tickets, which are quite decorative and thus a good item for my scrapbook. However, at the turnstile, we insert the ticket and it isn’t returned. I look so disappointed that on the following journey, the old man buys 3 tickets so I have one to keep.
First stop is the Bonde, the old streetcar which clambers across the Arcos de Lapa viaduct and up the hillside along cobbled lanes decorated with murals. We’re taking the Bonde just for the sake of it, so buy a return ticket, worrying that we’ll look a bit sad when we stay on at the final destination. In fact, when we reach the last station, there is little sign of movement. Passengers simply flick their seat backs over so they are facing forward for the return journey and we set off back down the hillside.
We walk back to the base of the viaduct to photograph a tram passing over it, and can’t resist
posing for an obligatory selfie by the ‘Love Rio’ sign.
Next stop is the Metropolitan Cathedral; from the outside it’s an ugly concrete cone. Inside, however it’s rather beautiful with 4 entrances, each facing a floor to ceiling stained glass tableau.
We move on to the Escadaria Selarion; a flight of some 200 steps, each decorated with brightly coloured tiles. I’ve seen pictures and it looks quite spectacular; of course in reality it’s swarming with so many tourists you can hardly see the steps.
Luckily, most of these tourists seem averse to actually climbing the steps, so as we ascend, numbers dwindle and at the top, there’s just me, the old man and a water vendor who’s charging 50% more than those at the bottom. We don’t care; we’ve just climbed 210 steps in 36 degree heat. I would have given him my first born for a bottle of water.
Next we visit the National Museum, which charts the history of the Brazilian people from the first known settlers 25,000 years ago, through colonisation, slavery and independence to the present day.
We walk along the waterfront to the Museum of Art, which is somewhat of
an anticlimax. The main exhibition is based on Samba; its place in the history, culture and politics of Brazil. But the captions are only in Portuguese so we have no idea what it says. The remaining floors contain exhibits which cause the old man to go into ‘Call that art?’ mode so we give up. Just time for one last art stop at the Etnias mural – inspired by the 5 Olympic Rings, the artist created 5 faces to represent the continents. Its enormous and mesmerising.
It’s been a scorcher of a day and we’ve been sightseeing for 8 hours. I’ve had enough of heat and walking and not understanding anything that’s going on around me.
We return to the hotel and round the evening off with another glamorous session of a supermarket supper followed by washing my underwear in the sink. It’s not as successful as yesterday; someone next door is smoking out of the window so my clothes smell of cigarettes and are covered in ash. I consider complaining but am not sure if smoking in a non-smoking room out trumps hanging your knickers out of the hotel window, so I decide to put it down
to experience and have another beer…
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