Rio de Janiero is indeed the marvelous city. We arrived in November 2014 on the Oceania Marina to stunning blue skies as we cruised past Pao de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain).
Turning left just before the bridge to Niteroi, we docked at 8:45 AM. It was off the ship and onto the bus for our first day of a 2 day tour. Eugenio (Eugene) was our tour guide. First we went to Sugar Loaf to beat the crowds. We took the two step tram up to the top. It was a marvelous 360 deg view more than a 1000 ft above Guanabara Bay. We had a clear view of Botafogo, Flamengo where Kim used to live and Copacabana Beach. As we descended we could here a military band playing.
We had lunch near the military (naval?) base at Vermelho (Red) beach as the band played on. They weighed our food in the restaurant. It was a good lunch of salads and fejoida. Continuing to the Botanical Gardens we walked around for an hour seeing brazil wood trees, orchids, bamboo plants, mango trees, some small monkeys, a scary mouthed fish and a tucan in a tree. Getting tired after a visit to the Sambadrome, we stopped at the ultra modern Cathedral and marveled at the stained glass going up hundreds of feet to the roof above. Exhausted we got back to the ship about 5 PM.
After a good night’s sleep, it was back on the bus to Corcovado, the huge statue of Christ overlooking Rio. We took the train up the steep mountain and were rewarded with even more spectacular views than yesterday, Dozens of photos later we returned to the base for a buffet lunch in Botafogo. Dave helped himself to the cachaça in the little wooden barrel. The fejoida was to die for. Then we were dropped at Copacabana Beach. It was a State holiday and the beach was packed with families who are cariocas (people who live in Rio). We walked the beach and then shopped. Time for some caiparinhas. Taxi back to the pier at 5 PM again.
Impressions: the city is much more middle class now compared to 1978-79. We only saw a few beggars. People look very happy and celebrate life here. Family values are obviously strong. The fabulous weather, the natural beauty and the cachaça caiparinha cocktails (lime. sugar, ice) are as good as ever. The only complaint Eugenio had about the favela residents is that they don’t pay taxes.
A note about beauty here. Brazilians are obsessed with physical body beauty. They want to be one of the “beautiful people” and to do that they are willing to go under the knife. Brazil has more plastic surgeons per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is not seen as vanity to make yourself beautiful in Brazil. Rather it is esteemed. Read more here about this unique cultural obsession.
Everyone should come to Rio at least once to enjoy it. We have another night here. Tomorrow we will lunch with an Oblate who is on mission here. Ciau!