Line up those caipirinhas

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 30   16 November 2007 (Rio de Janiero, Brazil)
What a sad morning.  Al is so looking forward to getting off and seeing Rio and then getting home.  He's had enough of seeing the same people day in, day out.  There goes my world voyage in a few years time J.
The weather outside is very dreary and wet. Of all the places Rio was the last we expected rain.  Grab some breakfast.  When we get back to our room Nai has already set it up as a twin and it is no longer our room so we head out to find a lounge to sit in to be called to disembark.  Our shorex is called - we are going to Corcavardo (Christ the Redeemer) and then a brief city tour and our bags will be dropped off at the Intercontinental where we'll join them.  Hand our bags over (hope they get there) and jump on the bus. 
No idea of where the port is on the context of Rio so just look out the windows and try and absorb everything.  Downtown is just a Brasilian version of any city's downtown area.  We drive past the Sambadrome where they hold the carnival parade every year.  Arrive at Corcavardo quite a while before our train ride at 10 so just wander around.  Get on the train that reminds me of a giant version of the one at Katoomba just west of Sydney.  We're joined on board by a group who launch into the most amazing samba music show.  It is truly the highlight of my holiday.
Get to the top and poor old Christ is shrowded in mist. It is actually quite ephemeral.  He goes in and out of the mist and for two five second periods he is bared and we snap some quick pictures. Not much point in hanging around so we head back to join the queue to get back on the train.  We are stood next to Sara and her mum Bessie.  Bessie's husband died a year earlier on our boarding day Oct 22 so they have decided to come on the cruise to commemorate his life and to start Bessie's new life.  They have brought some of his ashes and have been leaving little pieces of him in his favourite ports as the cruise has progressed.  It is the most beautiful story and due to my very fragile state I eventually burst into tears, much to Al's surprise.  I eventually regain my composure.
Bus trip to the hotel goes via Copacabana and Ipanema. We go right past the Sol Ipanema hotel where we are staying and it looks great.  Get to the Intercontinental and grab a bite to eat and a drink in one of the HAL hospitality rooms.  Go to find our bags and they're not there.  The girl who helps us is really lovely.  Eventually it is determined that there is a second truck somewhere out there with our bags (and a lot more as well).  It arrives, our bags emerge, the hotel puts us in a car and we're off to Ipanema.
Hotel is great.  Our huge room is on the tenth floor with the most amazing view of a very wet Ipanema beach.  We go out for a walk along the streets, bump into Karl and his partner who are going in to a Churrascario (sp?), one of the barbeque restaurants that we must visit. 

Everyone seems to have a dog that wears little boots.  I think it's beacause the cobbles are sharp but it reminds us of Beverly Hills.  Hilarious.

Head back to the hotel, book for the samba show at Plataforma tomorrow night, - 180 reais each (ouch!!) for transfer, dinner and show, to be paid in cash to the hotel - sit and look out for the departing Rotterdam but have no idea when she was due to sail, get changed, put on our spray jackets and head back to the same restaurant.
Meal was a hoot.  We are a bit confused with a little disc we get given, green one side, red the other.  We get a drink and go and get salad from the salad bar but the meat just keeps going past us.  Finally work out that when the disc is red side up it means we don't want meat, green means we do.  That's the way it's meant to work.  We get lots of meat, turn the disc back to red and the meat keeps coming. It is hilarious.  The food is great but we are very soon full and head back to the hotel.
We have had a famous caipirinha at the restaurant and so decide to have a couple at the hotel bar.  We eventually have four, they are way better than at the restaurant and we have to hit the sack.  
Day 31 November 18 Rio
Down for brekkie and instead of sitting in the room with a view of the beach we are put out the back in the conference room as there is no space.  Nevertheless the breakfast spread is great and we wolf down plenty as we have a big day today - Sugarloaf and Copacabana.
Head off along the tiled/cobbled path alongside the beach.   The geometrically patterned paths are everywhere in Rio.  They are apparently made of stone from Portugal.  Must be no stone left in Portugal at all!  Walk to the end and sit uup on the headland above Arprador (sp?) looking back along Ipanema.  Then around to Copacobana.  With a brilliant blue sky it would look fantastic, as would Ipanema, but it is hazy and grey and really wasn't that special. Bumped into one of the couples who were on the Marrakech shorex.  They are staying at one of the Copacobana Luxor hotels. 
We walk right to the end hoping there is a way across the headland to Sugarloaf but there's a military base of some kind.  We have to head back the way we came but cut through residential streets to come to the tunnel through to where Sugarloaf is. Al had read something about a free bus with Rio Sul on it.  As we emerge from the tunnel there is Rio Sul in front of us.  It's a huge shopping centre and we could have caught the bus all the way from Ipanema.  But then we would have missed out on the walk along both beaches.
Sugarloaf is reached by taking two cable cars to the peak.   We get to the cable car station and the line is long but moves pretty quickly.  I'm not real good in these kind of things and am absolutely terrified. Once we've got our tickets and we're waiting for the next gondola I'm on the verge of saying I can't do it but it's too late and we're on board.  The view was amazing but gee it was scary.  SO glad to get to the first of the two peaks.  A friend of ours Phillip has recommended the helicopter ride from here but the weather just isn't good enough to justify the expense.  Maybe next time J.Take some pictures and then to the next leg.  This one looks at least twice as far. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Nor sure why, but wasn't as scary.  I think the first one was steeper.  We both wander around.  There are some wild marmosets up here and I find them and grab some pics. Al goes back and sees them as well.  Time to head down.  On the lower peak we see one of the black ladies who went to Marrakech.  Have a quick chat and then back down to the bottom where we catch a cab back to the hotel.
Sky is clearing so we head across the road to find the 'gay' section of the beach. Bit more subdued than the equivalent at South Beach but we had a great time drinking beers and then some caipirinhas made for us on the beach and the carioca men are just amazing.
Get ready and head to the show.  We think there is something dodgy about what we've paid (it's that flashing 'pick us suckers' sign over our heads) and this is confirmed when we are stood in the line to get our tickets when we overhear some fellow Rotterdam guests beside us pay 282 for 2 compared to our 360.  Bloody hell.
Anyway, the meal is pretty good, we buy an fairly decent wine and then head in to the show.  Sadly, we end up in the very back corner and I am pissed that the people who just buy show tickets are in first and get the seats closer to the stage.  I get over it and it's a really good place to see everything but it would have been great to have been in the front row when the capoiera men were on stage.

Show over and we contemplate walking back to the hotel but are glad we don't when the bus ride shows us how far we were from the hotel.  Leblon didn't seem that far on a map.  We have to keep going round the block to drop each set of people off so we say we'll get off sooner to avoid another loop.  Just after we get off the bus we look behind us and the bus has jammed as it turns into a very narrow street and traffic chaos ensues.  Oops.  Plan to have some more drinks in the lobby but looks like they're closed up.  Ah well.

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