Copacabana - sun, sea, sand and samba!

Trip Start Dec 28, 2007
Trip End Aug 28, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

After a delayed flight and being met by a slightly grumpy tour agent at the airport (it was 10pm and she had been waiting since 4pm!) we were driven to our hotel right on the seafront at Copacabana. Our room has a balcony which gives us a great view of the beach in one direction and in the other, the statue of Christ at Corcovado.

Monday morning we had a well deserved lie in and late breakfast before taking a stroll along the beach. Without realising it we were wandering for over an hour all along Av. Atlantica to Ipanema where we sat and took in the views. The sun was out and the sand and sea just as it looks in the pictures. The only thing that was different was that we were expecting lots of bronzed, fit, 'beautiflul' people lining the beach but in fact what we found was a feeling of 'anything goes', if you know what we mean! After a bit of relaxation in the roof top pool overlooking the beach (fantastic views) we were picked up at 2pm by a Portugese and English speaking German and joined eight others in the back of an open top Jeep. The next four hours were spent driving around some of Rio and heading through the forests around the city. We stopped for a walk through a section of the forest where we were told about and shown the plants before heading up Corcovado to the statue of Christ at the top. Not only is it impressive to stand at the foot of such a thing but the panoramic views from the top are breath taking. We headed back down and through varying areas of the city including Lapa and Santa Teresa where we saw the famous rickety 'Bonde' tram and many colourful colonial buildings. It was also great to see how the city changed as the sun went and the streets lit up at night. As suggested by our guide we found ouselves in a beef, carvery, buffet place called Carretão for dinner where you have never seen so many different parts of a cow cooked and served. Chicken and pork were also served along with as much salad as you could eat, garlic bread, bread balls, mini naan-type bread, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, deep-fried cheeses, fish balls and some of the best sausages we have found during our whole trip! And the meat kept on coming, and coming. Men with long skewers of different cuts of beef would come to the table and carve you as much or as little as you wanted straight on to you plate - it's a good job we both like our beef!

Well, it's our last full day of our trip and what better way to spend it than relaxing by the beach, taking a trip up Sugar Loaf Mountain in a cable car and seeing some samba? We enjoyed the beautiful sea and sand while relaxing with a cold beer before heading to the base of the mountain. After two cable car rides we reached the top and got a great view of the city and bay. When we got to the bottom we found the military out of their barracks in the bay practicing their marching, complete with band! It was entertaining to sit and watch them for a while as, how can we put it, they tried to look impressive. Hearing the brass band from the cable car was great but then when we got out to listen some more we realised they were not so good at all - at one point half of them forgot to start! After getting back we grabbed some food and headed off for our evening's entertainment - a folklore show called Plataforma. At first it seemed a little odd with lots of dancers who looked a little rusty but it improved and the live band were good. There was some amazing dancing including gymnastic-style showmanship and four guys who formed a small Batteria (Samba percussion section) who were amazing. It finished with lot of colourful costumes from the carnivals and for some reason all the other dancers came on stage waving all the flags from around the world?!

It's now Wednesday morning and we are now sat on our balcony watching the world go by after our last sleep in a foreign bed. Soon it's back to the airport for our 41st and 42nd flights (we have to go via Sau Paulo again) back to good old England.
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