Sand, Sea and Cinema

Trip Start Sep 27, 2005
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, March 6, 2006

Well, now Carnaval is over Rio has returned to normal, but that must be by Brazilian standards as the buses are even more manic that before and there seem to be even more people on the beaches and wandering around downtown.

The hotel I´ve stayed in is in Lapa near the downtown area and it is well placed for visiting there and for buses as many go straight passed the front door or down the street behind. This has made it easy to visit many of the beaches and other areas. The main tourist spots of Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf and Copacabana can be taken in in a short time but I´ve also managed Ipanema beach, Hippie market, Niteroi and watched a game of football at the Maracana as well as eating lots of by weight meals and all you can eat pasta and pizza evenings. Having lost a bit of weight in Peru I think that its all come back.

Christ the Redeemer provides panoramic views of Rio and we were lucky that when we (Anthony, Heather, Mike, Kev, Jen, Andrea and myself) visited it was with blue skies and the sun shining. Almost everyone else went on other days and managed to get 30 seconds of clear sky. One person told me all they could see where His feet!!! This is also a good way of seeing the layout of Rio and how the areas are separated as it is easy to walk from Copacabana to Ipanema, the next beach along, but it doesn´t look it on a map. From the figure of Christ we went to Copacabana beach for a swim and a laze on the sand before Jen, Andrea and I headed up Sugarloaf to watch the sunset. The sun sets behind the figure of Christ the Redeemer and it is an amazing sight. We waited and let the sky turn black(ish) and watched the lights of the city come up and dazzle us. Jen even managed to try out her US$8 camera stand that she´d bought in Paraguay after haggling the salesman down from US$10.

The trip to the Maracana was on a Wednesday night and we watched the second game of the night (2 first division games in one evening in one stadium!) at a cost of 10 reals, about GBP2.50. The game wasn´t very good until Botafogo, the local team, equalised with a bicycle kick into the bottom left corner. It was a pretty special goal and the crowd suddenly became excited and Botafogo woke up and realised they might win but it was only for the last 10 minutes and ended in a draw. The stadium doesn´t seem enormous but it can hold 180,000 people!

Rio has a sister city of Niteroi on the other side of the bay. Becky and I decided to go over there to see a film. You catch a slow ferry for 2 reals, get on the boat and then wonder where you need to go as we knew it was next to a museum but not where the museum was. However, as we arrived at Niteroi there was a shopping centre with a Cinemark cinema and so we went there instead and watched Match Point, the new Woody Allen movie. It is a really good movie and very funny but I did play a bit of trying to guess where certain scenes had been filmed in London. I did have the usual problem of watching the subtitles when I didn´t have a clue what they were saying as they are in Portuguese. The problem with this is that the Brazilians have there own way of pronouncing the language so knowing how something is spelt is no help. One of the language books that someone bought had 12 pages of how to pronounce different sounds depending on which letter or pair of letters followed another. It´s almost impossible to order anything as they look like your speaking Greek at them rather than Portuguese. The only one who was appreciative was the guide at the Favella we went to who was delighted we said obregado (or the women said obregarda) for thank you.

A Favella is a like a shanty town just better built. We went to Rocinha, whose Carnaval school had been rained on at the Sambodrome. We were given a short guided tour to show us the facilities there and what problems they had and what the place was like. Two days before Andy and Veronica had done the same tour, they were told to only take photographs when they were told is was ok to do so. One American on the trip did not pay heed to this and photographed people all the time. A fifteen year old took exception to this and walked over to him, pulled out two hand guns and asked to see the pictures on his digital camera. The boy then made him delete any picture with the boy in it and then put his guns away and walked off; apparently he´d been nice and polite just didn´t want his picture taken. When we started our tour we were told emphatically that we could photograph anything we want and anyone we want it would be fine but then again we had a tour guide and two minders whereas Andy and Veronica had only had a guide. It was an interesting visit and the buildings are extremely solidly built. The reason for this is that to build on a plot you have to talk to the next door neighbour who´ll sell it to you, the government has no part in this, or you can build on someone else´s roof. This means that you build a couple of stories, the ground floor for your business and the first to live on. Then when your kids get married you build more floors for them or if you want to gain some rental income you build a floor for someone else. The Favella is built on the old Formula 1 circuit that was used in the 1930´s and the main road through the Favella is part of the circuit and was quite steep, a good 1 in 12.

Along with all of this has been a lot of goodbye dinners and watching people take the cab to the airport or the truck leave to travel back round to Quito with 21 new people onboard. I am now, this very minute, supposed to be on a plane taking off for Heathrow but it has been delayed and we have been taken to an hotel in Copacabana and will be taken to the airport at 8pm tonight for an 11pm flight to Sao Paolo. It is the first time on the trip that I´ve had any problem with a flight so I´ve been lucky up to now.

After all these months, Australia seems a long time ago, it has been very enjoyable and I´ve missed most of the worst winter in England for years. At the moment I haven´t decided what to do when I get back so I may just have to go away again to try and help me decide.

I hope you´ve enjoyed the log and I´ll try and get all the photos done back in England including a final update which will include pictures other people took that I have´t included in mine.
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