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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: -22.9035, -43.2096
We could debate the wisdom or otherwise of giving ourselves two days to see Rio, but remember this is a mad dash round South America and that's the way it panned out. And it's a big city, a quite pretty big city of course, but still a big city and we have a bit of a love-hate relationshp with them, the problems of gettng around, deciding what to see.
In the event Rio is easy to get around, taxis all use meters, the metro is convenient (and air-conditioned) and the must-see things really are must see so we knew what we had to do.
So we took the two cable cars to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, for the view, along with lots of other people. We took a taxi up to the point where you have to switch to minibuses to get up to Christ the Redeemer (unless you have taken the very expensive cog train) and as we stood in the queue to buy tickets they announced that because of the cloud we wouldn't be able to see the statue or the view! We persisted and in the event as we went up the last escalator (with lots
of other people) the clouds parted and there it stood. The clouds came and went, but it was enough.
We all went to Copacabana beach, Helen and Steve went to Ipanema beach while Liz and I went to the Museum of Modern Art. We all went to the Botanical Gardens (a nice cafe with a great garden attached) and as our hotel was in the Central area we inevitably got to see the lovely old buildings around the central square.
We ate well, if expensively, these are London prices, on typical Portugese fare (roast lamb, suckling pig) and Asian/South American/ European tasting menu where the bite-size portions just kept on coming.
So two days it was and now we are off to Paraty for the beaches there hoping for sunshine (still a bit cloudy this morning) then on to Sao Paulo airport on Tuesday afternoon to return the car and catch our flight back to London which arrives Wednesday morning. Not looking forward to the cold!
Rio looks fantastic from above - lots of hills, islands and sea - better of course in the sun- but close up on ground level the streets were a bit grubby. Young people seem to have a great
time with, roller skating aound the streets particulalry on sundays when main beach and park roads are closed an drinking and dancing the Samba amazingly well in Lapa district on wk/nd evenings. We were pleased to have a spacious roof terrace for evening drinks, swims and chats.
There are some fablulous old buldings dating back to early 19th century when Don Juan the Portugese court escaped from Napoleon's invading army and bought their treasures with them, sunequently declaring themselves indepenedent of Portugal. Money flowed into the new capital ( before it was relocated to Brasilia much late in 1960's} from sugar cane, coffee, rubber and beef farming and also gold mining. We have witnessed the torrential rain for hours on end which makes the tropical vegetation lush and green. No wonder everything grows in abundance. It amazes us that we knew so little about a country with a population of over 150 million and vast geograhical size and varied terrain. In the past slaves outnumbered the Portugese by 5 million to 1 million, but vast numbers of Italian and European immigrants, prolific intermarriage between races and large family size now make Brazil a nation to be taken seriously.
We reluctantly left
Rio, but were looking forward to our last location by the beach at Paraty, where the beaches and wooded coast looked wonderful, so we were disappointed when the mist gathered as we drove across the hills and the heavens then opened at about midday and it poured until night fall..
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