Her Name Was Lola
Trip Start Oct 22, 2014
17Trip End Nov 07, 2014
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Where I stayed
We had breakfast at the restaurant on top of the Caesar Park, which offered sweeping views of Ipanema Beach, Sugarloaf and much of Rio. What a way to start the day!
Our first destination was as it should be: the 125-foot Christ The Redeemer, one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. The statue, inaugurated in 1931, is 2400 feet in the air … dominating the skyline from almost every vantage point. We reached the top with a combination of cable car, elevator and escalator. The monument was the idea of Emperor Peter II, who was part of the monarchy when Brazil declared itself independent from Portugal. We took architectural photos and all the cheesy tourist photos too.
Next up: Saint Sebastian Cathedral built in 1967, which can hold 20,000 SRO. Architecturally stunning!
We lunched at a traditional restaurant called Confeitaria Colombo. We were able to try some of Brazil's famous dishes, including Feijoada, the kicked up black bean soup. Great meal. Great experience. Lots of cute shops around but we didn't have time to explore.
About Brazil and Rio
Monarchs of Brazil ruled first as a kingdom united with Portugal (1815–1822), and subsequently as the Empire of Brazil (1822–1889). As an independent nation, Brazil had two monarchs: Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II. In 1889, the monarchy was abolished in a military coup d'état that proclaimed the nation a Republic.
Rio de Janeiro got its name from original settlers: River of January. Turns out their "river" was actually a bay. Oops.
Rio is a city of hills, many of which jut out of Guanabara Bay. In the main mass of land, tunnels connect neighborhoods through the hills.
Rio is the headquarters for Petrobras, a semi-public multinational energy corporation, the largest company in the Southern Hemisphere. Although very profitable, it has been plagued with controversy in the last few years.
Brazil’s main exports are iron ore, crude petroleum, corn, soybeans, raw sugar, Arabica coffee and poultry. Much of the sugar cane is used in ethanol fuel.
Brazil is approximately the same size as mainland USA with a population of 213 million. The population of Rio is 7 million. At one time, more than 90% of Rio was Catholic; still, more than 70% are. There is a heavy influence of African, mixed with French, Italian and, of course, Portuguese.
Salvador was the first capital in 1549. Rio became a more practical export port so colonial administration was moved here in 1763. In the 1950s plans were developed to move the capital to the interior; in the hope that moving the capital to the region would help populate the area. The new capital, Brasília, was inaugurated as the federal capital in 1960.
Carnaval is a world famous festival held each year before Lent. The “samba school” parades in the Sambadrome (a huge stadium built specifically for Carnaval) are an essential part of the festivities. (The Sambadrome will be used for some of the soccer and other sports at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.)
The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers and floats from numerous neighborhood samba schools. Each samba school works to build the best floats, costumes, and aesthetics, to represent their themes and to include the best music they can from their drumming band. Each school's entry includes six to eight floats and 5,000 revelers.
We visited one such school: Grande Rio. G.R.E.S Acadêmicos do Grande Rio. We were able to see their floats in production, see and touch costumes from previous years’ parades, see video of the festivities, learn about the culture of the schools, meet the dancers and drummers and – here’s the best part – learn the samba
We returned to the hotel along Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. They are the hotspot for Rio activity. Ipanema will be the location for Olympic beach volleyball events come 2016.
Our St. Louis six some dined at Satyricon, a restaurant recommended by friends, not far from the hotel. It was quite tasty but really pricey: salad, pasta and one beverage per person came to almost $US90 per person. Good but not THAT good.
We stopped at a Starbucks on the way back and I got a Rio mug for my collection.
Hectic day – not used to that much dancing, I guess!