We did not buy a $2700 ring

Trip Start Feb 06, 2007
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday November  19th Rio
The jeweller Stern generously (ha!) provides a free taxi to their showrooms in Ipanema, where you can see the entire process of creating their jewellery. We did enjoy seeing the workshops, watching lovely stones being polished, then the hard sell started. It doesn't pay to show the faintest bit of interest. Barb liked greenish stones (emerald and tourmaline) and the Brazilean Imperial Topaz. We found one tourmaline ring and one topaz ring that were very pretty, but the topaz one was quickly disappeared. The sales lady had decided the tourmaline one was the one for us. How much ? Ouch. $2700. We said we would think about it (Ha, again) and she insisted on putting it on hold for us till 6pm, as she just knew it was for us. We fled. Stern's also provided a free taxi back to our hotel, which we swopped for a ride to the cog railway going up to Christ the Redeemer.
This trip was 36R ($24) with a discount for HI members. Our cards were of course back in the hotel. The ride was really good, and took about 25 minutes through rainforest. At the top of the railway you can either go to the statue by lift and escalator, or use the stairs. The stairs give fab views all over Rio, as does the platform at the top, but the platform was very crowded. The statue towering above you is truly awesome. You just cannot appreciate the size from down the hill. They must have built it properly as it is now 76 years old, and not a trace of crumbling cement. We picked a good clear day, and you could see mountains, bays and parts of the city over 360 degrees.
You can probably walk all the way up as there is a road, but this may be unsafe. You can also take a tour, by road, but the railway was tops.
The conductor on the bus back to our hotel waved us to get off at the right place but we then had to fight our way through the people-filled aisle to the exit at the back. By the time we got there the bus had gone its merry way. Almost all the passengers saw our predicament and kept yelling Stop till the driver stopped, just for us.
This southern part of Brazil has had postcards for sale everywhere. Our grandkids are being showered with a card a week, after long spells (months) when we couldn't find a single one. We bought one card from an upmarket shop. This involved standing at the counter till noticed, then the guy whisked away the card and put it in an outsize paper bag, printed 2 dockets, stapled one to the bag and gave one to us. We then had to go half way down the very long shop, hand over our docket with the money, and get it stamped PAID. We were then allowed to exchange our docket for the goods at yet another counter another 5 minute hike away. All this for a 90 cent postcard ! This same shop had a computer memory stick, the same as one we bought yesterday for 70R, at the BARGAIN price of 140R. No wonder they can afford so many staff.
This was going to be cinema night but the only film in English was half way through. All the restaurants around here sell very expensive food, but we found a supermarket with '┴ustralian bread' (it was like nothing we buy at home, but brown and yummy), sliced beef and cheap Brazilean wine, $3 a bottle. After half a yogurt pot of wine (they make good weightless wineglasses), it tasted pretty OK and we scoffed the lot. All thoughts of a night on the tiles vanished into an alcoholic stupor.
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