Walk around Central Rio

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rio is an amazingly beautiful city... it has a tropical and relaxed feel and beautiful natural features (lakes, rock formations, beaches etc.). Itīs got to be one of the most beautiful cities Iīve visited this year. As I was driving through central Rio yesterday, I could see why the city is booming with luxury apartments. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Apart from hearing a few gun shots last night, I have yet to come across any violence, except a few frustrated and heated drivers in the chaotic road jams all over the city. Getting a taxi from the Botanical Gardens to Ipanema took well over 1 hour, but it gave me a chance to observe first hand how beautiful the city is.

Today I took one of Lonely Planetīs suggested walks around Central Rio. Given that the subway stations have yet to be completed in Ipanema, I had to catch a connecting bus to the subway station in Copacabana for 2.30 reals ($1.50). The subway is as efficient as other cities... and took me to my first stop, the Cinelandia Subway station. This walk gave me a good overview of the essence of the city away from its beaches and mountains... I found museums, historic bars and cafes, theatres, open-air bazaars and the colonial antique-jazz part of town. I loved shopping amongst the antiques... and my new found interest of musical instruments (Iīd love to get back into music... Iīve got my eye on getting back into keyboard).

The main square, in the heart of modern Rio, is called Praca Floriano. This is where I saw the neoclassical Teatro Municipal 2... one of Rioīs finest buildings. After this, I browsed through the record and CD stalls of Rio and wished I could of brought 50... luggage constraints associated with travel suck! The pedestrian-only Av 13 De Maio was full of life... the Largo de Carioca is a bustling area with a small market and great nightlife (havenīt explored it yet). I visited the restored Convent... where the original church was built in 1608 (one of Rioīs oldest). Rio has some unique buildings, including the Petrobras Building which is a boxlike metal chassis.

I stopped into the beautiful Confeiteria Colombo for a quick snack and dose of caffeine... the art in this cafe is beautiful and definitely worth a stop as recommended by my apartmentīs owner, Nebeau. After walking for a while, I stopped at the Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura... one of the grandest, 3 level reading rooms Iīve been in. Great stuff!

I then walked into Saara... a longstanding neighborhood bazaar with excellent shopping. Christmas is definitely in the air now, but with nowhere as much hype as that in Australia. For example, no city Christmas decorations. The way I like it... I think Christmas is definitely overrated for non-religious people (I wish I was in Malaysia where they donīt celebrate it).

Rua do Lavradio had excellent antique browsing. After this, I passed beneath Rioīs famous Arches (Arcos de Lapa)... I felt a little uneasy in this area given mostly homeless blacks. But I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a few cops. I ended this most enjoyable walk with a typically Carioca freshly-squeezed suco (juice). Cheap and refreshing!

In the evening, I went back to my club where I met Roger and friend. His friend is from northern Brazil, and like most locals here, no English. Roger was great value though and Iīm sure to meet up with him again. Typical... just as you get into a place and begin to meet locals, I have to go! Story of my life.

Iīm loving doing very little here (feels like a true holiday) but the weather here is very disappointing. It is mostly overcast... not good for beaching it or doing the sights such as the Christ Statue. Iīm waiting for clear blue skies to visit the grandest sight here... the Christ Redeemer statue... the symbol of Rio.
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