If it's Saturday, it must be Rio
Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
28Trip End Dec 11, 2013
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K & A spent the morning packing. After lunch it was on to the tour bus for a trip through Rio and up to the Christ the Redeemer Statue by cog wheel train. A look out the window (Andrea could see Corcovado, the mountain the statue is on from the ship) showed her that a view would be dicey today. Clouds came and went over the mountain, Rio is the second largest city in Brazil, with 6.5 million people in the city and 13 million in the metro area, As you have already been told, the Portuguese were the first Europeans in the country now known as Brazil, arriving in 1502.
Andrea is aware that one of the burning questions in your lives has always been "Rio means river in Portuguese, but Rio de Janeiro is not on a river, what gives?" Well, here's the deal, this bay is so huge that when the Portuguese got here they thought it was the mouth of a large river, not a bay
Here's some other things to know about Brazil and Rio:
-This is no longer the strongly Catholic country it used to be - only about 65% of the population is Catholic. There is no longer a national religion in Brazil
-Rio is a city focused on beaches (You probably already knew this, but Andrea can attest that it is true - there are always people on the beaches, but no one appears to go in the water - they work out and play volleyball)
-Soccer is the biggest sport in Brazil, volleyball is the second biggest and they also play a game which is volleyball but you can't use your hands. (Andrea worries about the brains of the young people here from bouncing balls off of their heads- seriously, this isn't good)
- Rio really doesn't seem like a tourist destination, at least for non-Portuguese speaking tourists. Most of the people working in the service industry seem to struggle with English-including the tour guides. This will be interesting when they host the World Cup next year and the Olympics in 2016.
-Andrea is not sure about the truth about the Favelas. In case you didn't know, Favelas are the residential areas that climb the steep mountainsides in Rio and other Brazilian cities. At first glance they appear to be very substandard housing. But as soon as Ken and Andrea began touring, the guides told them something different. The Favelas are not the slums of Mumbai. The government has put in electricity and running water. There was a time that Rio did not provide police services to the Favelas in Rio, but that has changed. Now, if you look more closely, as Ken and Andrea have done because there is a Favela going up the mountain right outside their hotel, there are satellite dishes on the houses, what appear to be new windows, electricity, air conditioners etc. Many of the homes appear to be in good repair, some aren't. What they don't have is streets in front of their houses. They are all piled on top of one another so they have to park elsewhere and walk up, or they don't have cars.
-Crime many people on the ship were afraid to go into Rio
-People in Rio live in medium rise apartments There are no single famliy houses to speak of.
-Rio is surrounded by black granite mountains.
-Tijuca National Park is an Atlantic rainforest and is included in the city limits of Rio. It is the largest national park in the world which is withing a city. More about that later,
Ok, that's enough editorializing. A & K rode the bus through the Rio traffic. Although we got on at 1 pm, the guide soon explained to use that our tickets to go up to Corcovado were for 3:40 pm, so he was taking us on a bus ride
After this bus ride, we finally went to the cog railway to take us up Corcovado. Well we got there around 3 pm and had to wait and wait. There were long lines of people and the trains only came every 20 minutes. Apparently they had had some mechanical problems earlier in the day that backed everything up. We did note they had a great deal though. If you bought a ticket to go up to the Christ the Redeemer, you could get a discount to go to the top of Jungfrau in Switzerland. We are getting right on this and getting our tickets to Switzerland as we speak.
At any rate, after wandering around the small souvenir shops, we finally got onto a train and rode up the mountain, through the rain forest
We walked around and took pictures and then waited for the ride down, A four hour tour soon turned into a 6 hour tour. It appears we were learning about Brazilian time.
We returned to our ship and quickly got to dinner for the last time on the ship. We had Italian buffet with our new friends, Brian and Nancy, who are from Kent in England. We truly enjoyed their company throughout this cruise and already miss them. Then Ken, Andrea and Nancy went off to see a Samba show. Brian decided to stay back on the ship and watch the movie. We were supposed to leave for the show at 8:35 pm. We waited and waited for our bus. Finally about 9:15 or so we finally got on the bus. Our tour guide, who was Danish, told us we had a 45 minute ride to the show. We drove in exceedingly back up traffic. Our guide explained that we were lucky because we were going to see the world's largest Christmas Tree on our way to the shoe In fact, this was why the traffic was so backed up
On the to show. This was a show that started at 10:00. Needless to say we were quite late. It is supposed to give tourists the flavor of Carnival. As our port lecturer said "it isn't very sophisticated" We saw fantastic costumes accompanied by scantily dressed dancers. They had an announcer who did things like pull people out of the audience, to sing songs associated with the countries they came from. It all seemed very Telemundo, except it was in Portuguese, with some English mixed in. There was a guy who did the bolo thing with balls on ropes. He was very good, Of course we only got to see half the show - but that was plenty, Check out the pictures.
Then it was off to bed for an early morning getting off of the ship