Saturday, September 7, 2013

Falling in Love With RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil!!!

We had arrived Rio de Janeiro in the evening and while I knew we drove from the north to the south, along the coastline, I could not actually see the terrain of Rio.  In our hotel in the Copacabana, the view is nice but it looks something like the beaches of Santa Monica or Venice, or even Malibu.  It wasn't until we had views of Rio from the Sugar Loaf and from Corcovado Mountains that I fully realized what a beautiful city Rio is.  It's geography is stunning, with bays and islands, and the city nestled close to the shoreline, but maintaining green spaces and beach and park areas for public use. Someone had thought of urban planning.




When I looked down on beautiful Rio, I understood why it's an important city talked about through time. It made me think of other physically beautiful cities like San Francisco, Sydney, Vancouver, Istanbul, and Hong Kong. 

While there are poor areas in Rio, the old buildings are still charming, and the infrastructure is in place - good roads, a metro system, and so on.  It's not third world, but neither is it first, although one can see that it could easily be so, as it has the resources and things in place. And what exactly prevents it from becoming first world is not clear to me.  Local people talk of corruption, of greed among their 1% -- and maybe they are right.

Yesterday, we joined an all day tour that brought us through the city, with a stop at the modern Metropolitan Cathedral, then up to Sugar Loaf mountain which is a solid granite and quartz peak jutting out in front of the Guanabara Bay, accessible by two cable car rides. Lauren and I did the right thing in postponing our tour from Thursday to Friday because the rain and clouds had cleared up by Friday.  Our guide said that on Thursday the people on the tour were disappointed and even angry because of the clouds and rain.


The Guanabara Bay sprawls with islands within the bay; the size of the bay was what prompted the Portuguese in 1502 to call the place "Rio" believing this was the mouth of a river. "De Janeiro" came about because they arrived on the first of January.

The views are stunning -- the bays, the islands, the city, Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, even our hotel on Copacabana were visible from Sugar Loaf.

Later we had lunch at Mio on Rua Farme de Amoedo, in Ipanema; the road there is riddled with restaurants.

I had to laugh when two women asked JB, our guide, about going out at night to a samba place: "Is it safe?" they asked.  And JB shot back:  "No place in Brazil is safe. You remove all your jewelry; look like a Brazilian, and go out and have fun!"

In the afternoon, we drove to the Corcovado Mountain, took the train up to where the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer stands.  This 98-foot statue, fifth largest in the world, was constructed between 1926- 1931. It was beautiful, dear Readers! The Christ figure was simple and magnificent; Christ's outstretched arms seemed to embrace not only Rio but the entire world. People were wildly taking pictures of the gigantic statue and also the surrounding views.

It was late afternoon by this time, and the weather had changed and it was somewhat chilly, but still the skies remained clear.

Unknown to many was a small chapel at the base of the statue and fortunately the photographer who went with us told us about this, and we were able to stop by to pray -- to give thanks, to pray for ourselves, for Brazil, for the rest of the world -- Christ the Redeemer with his outstretched arms is generous and will remember us all with infinite mercy and love.

This is all for now. We leave for Iguazu later today, and that will be another Brazilian adventure, so stay tuned, dear Readers.


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 tags: travel, tourism, holiday, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer, Cristo Redentor, Copacabana, Ipanema, South America

All for now,

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