Friday, April 12, 2019

Oh Sole Mio Rio

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you may as well stay home."  --James Michener

O Sole Mio Rio....that's not quite how the song goes, but.....  I've wanted to visit Rio for a long time and finally got my wish during this trip around South America. 

Rio de Janiero, with a population exceeding 6 million, is Brazil's second largest city (behind Sao Paulo) and is very famous for it's views from atop Sugarloaf Mountain, the 98-foot tall statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain, fabulous beaches, including Copacabana and Ipanema, and the world's largest Carnaval celebration each year around Ash Wednesday.

The Christ the Redeemer statue has been named one of the seven new wonders of the world - did you know that because of Rio's location near the equator, and the height of the statue of Jesus, that it gets struck by lightning several times a year?  Yep a doodle. 

Rio was first settled by the French, way back in 1555, but within a decade, the Portuguese came along and took over the small settlement.  They named the area Rio de Janiero, which means River of January, because they arrived in January and believed it to be the mouth of a large river.  In fact, it's not a river at all, it's a bay.  But who's checking.  It's a fabulous city!! 

I spent two days there and it was barely enough time to scratch the surface.  We were also there the week before Carnaval, and the city was already partying hard.  If I go back, next time it will be for Carnaval - I think the samba parade and energy of the city would be fun to experience!

The welcoming committee at our terminal!

Some views of Rio in the early morning when our ship was coming into port.

This is a new museum called The Museum of Tomorrow.  It looks like space-age jet, ready to take off into parts unknown.......I've heard it is a great place to visit, so next year, when I'm back in Rio for another 2 days, I'm planning a visit to this museum.  It's a short walk from the port.

For the first day, a small group of us took a DoBrazilRight tour ( for 10 hours, all around the hot spots in Rio.  We visited Christ the Redeemer, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, ate lunch at a churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse BBQ), had some street party time with local revelers, and finished off our day with a sunset visit to Sugarloaf Mountain.  Tiring but very fun!

We lucked out with a nice sunny day, and although it was quite hot and humid, the clear skies were worth it.

The 360 degree views were gorgeous!

This is the cog wheel train that takes you up to the top of Corcovado Mountain, where Christ the Redeemer statue sits.

Kathi and I were very excited for our train ride!

Snort was pretty impressed with the statue.

After spending a couple of hours at Corcovado, we headed off to the churrascaria, the Brazilian steakhouse.  Fogo de Chao is a worldwide chain, but did not disappoint.  The waiters come around to the tables with spears full of barbecued beef, pork and chicken meats.  There were ribs, sausages, tri-tips, roast beef slices, chicken thighs, drumsticks, etc.  You just pointed to what you wanted and they sliced off pieces for you onto your plate. YUM!

After a mind-numbing and soul satisfying lunch, complete with a salad buffet and beer, we piled back into our minibus and headed for the famous beaches.

Once we arrived at Copacabana, we saw that a party all along the beach was in full swing!  People roamed about, dressed up and samba music was blaring.  Everyone was in a good mood.

Copacabana and Ipanema beaches' sidewalks are lined with mosaic tiles.  This one below is specific to Copacabana.  You'll see another later with waves that is Ipanema's style.

You can't visit these beaches without taking a stroll along the water's edge.

Snort really enjoyed the party atomosphere

Below is Ipanema's signature wave mosaics.

A little beach football, anyone?

Yep, I got my toes in!

I really liked this statue of a woman and her dog.

Bathing suits run small........

We ran into this guy who was "nun" too happy to stop for a photo!

After our lunch and party time at the beaches, we finally headed off towards Sugarloaf to ride the cable cars up to the mountain to watch the sun set over the city and Corcovado Mountain.

Cable cars hold about 50 people each, and take just about 2 minutes to reach the first stop.  Then you have to get off and walk around the hill to get to the second cable car, which then takes you up to the very top.

We were rewarded with a nice view once at the top.

I neglected to bring my camera with me, so all of these photos were taken with my iPhone 8-Plus.

You can see Christ The Redeemer across the city, with the sun setting behind it.

On our second day in Rio, I chose to take a ship tour to visit a local Samba school.  Since Carnival was less than a week away, the school was very careful not to let us photograph any of their floats that they were going to be using in the parade, as each school is judged on their display and theme each year, and a winner is crowned.

But we did get to see a lot of the prior years costumes and behind the scenes activities.  Here's a little info I got from the internet about how the Samba competitions work:

The genre of Samba schools is musical that symbolizes Brazil. Each school performs a story which is theme based. The themes range from sports, politics to arts and each school presents a splendid choreography, colorful costumes and a unique Carnival song. The competition is based on creativity and comes loaded with surprises for the revelers. According to Samba history, during the days of slavery the Africans passed on the Samba rhythms to the Brazilians. Today it is the essential component of Brazil’s cultural heritage that can be seen and heard the most during the Carnival. A large Samba school have around 3000 members including dancers, percussionists, stewards and other artists. Behind the scenes there are almost a thousand members handling various aspects of the performance to ensure a perfect winning performance.

Below are two examples of a prior year outline of a theme and the floats to support it.

We got to dress up too!

Our group shot, ready for the competition!

After our tour to the Samba school, we drove around through some of the neighborhoods in town, and saw some of the educational buildings along the way.  Rio is home to a number of excellent universities.

Ah, look, more of my beloved VW bugs!!

I had a yellow bug like this one, below, back in the early 80's.  I loved that little car, until one day, on my wedding anniversary, my husband was driving it and rear-ended a car in front of him.  The bonnet was crushed and that was the end of my little VW bug.........the husband was fine, however, albeit with some bruised ribs.  Sigh.

A pretty church, near Corcovado Mountain.

Street art is legal in Rio.  There are some restrictions, but by and large, you can paint pretty much anything to your heart's content.  There was some really nice artwork near the port.

In the evening, we had quite a lightning storm.  I'm surprised my iPhone caught this shot, especially since storms like this scare me.  I braved the outside decks to try to capture the lightning. 

We had a local dance troupe come on board in the evening to perform for us.  It was fun. 

Stay tuned for more Pig Tales!!!