Wednesday, April 6, 2011

At the Copa...Copacabana! Our Day in Rio...

And it's on to Brazil...

After two lovely sea days, and Gina’s latest towel creations…

We landed in Rio. I had organized a tour for Barb and Ed and Jim and me, but we were also meeting up with Cintia. Cintia worked on the Crown Princess when we did our transatlantic cruise and we loved her so much. We kept in touch with her, and when I knew we would be in Rio, we made plans to meet again.

This was the view from our balcony. This is the H. Stern jewellery store. He came from Germany and started his first store here and now has 130 stores in all over the world. 

The port building…kind of seedy looking…

We arrived at the Port of Maravilha. The first segment of the cruise was ending here and the port was absolute mayhem. We saw the signs that Rio is hosting the Olympics in 2016.

And we spotted Cintia and Francoise, our tour guide, right away.

We arrived the day after Carnival when the city is slowly getting back to normal. The Carnival ends the day before Ash Wednesday and then the city recuperates until Monday, which is almost considered the first day of the year. Some neat floats…



Kim with the immigrants…

Beautiful architecture on the buildings as we left the port area…

Nice murals too…

Tons and tons of cars ready for export...

The Rio-Niteroi bridge is the longest prestressed concrete bridge in the southern hemisphere and the sixth longest in the world. The total length of the bridge is 8.25 miles and it is 236 ft high in the centre to allow ships to pass underneath. It is a toll bridge and 140,000 cars use it each day. The pictures all have a lovely bluish tinge as that was the color of the window in the van.

Leaving the downtown area…you can see our ship with Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background. It got its name from the sugar cane industry when the final product was packed into bread-like loaves for shipment. It also served as an important landmark for early navigators as the entrance to Guanabara Bay.

Our first look at a favela (shanty town) on the hill. Some of the original favelas were started by African slaves, but the more modern ones have come about as people have left the rural areas to look for work in the city. Quite often the favelas are ruled by drug lords. The ones in Rio have become best known as the houses are built up the hillsides. In 2010, an unusually heavy rainfall triggered a mudslide that killed over 200 people.

We stopped here and watched the men fishing. We weren't too sure if we would want to eat the fish they were catching!

Here we are! Barb and Ed and Cintia and Jim and I…

And here we are again with Francoise, our tour guide. She is originally from Paris, but met her husband while they were both travelling, and she ended up following him to Brazil where they have raised their family.

Local beer…the most popular is Skol.

We were going to try one of these coconuts. They stick a straw in them and drink the water, but the lady didn’t have any cold ones. We figured we would get one later, but we actually never did.

Francoise explaining something to us!

We’re in the municipality of Niteroi, which has a population of about 1.3 million. Before the building of the Rio-Niteroi bridge you would reach the city by ferry. The “spaceship” is actually a museum designed by world famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. He is now 103 years old and still working! The museum was supposed to represent a flower and has become the symbol of Niteroi.

Interesting island that had an exclusive nightclub and restaurants. You could only reach it by the bridge. It has since gone bankrupt.

Beautiful sidewalks…

The little white dots are buoys with ropes used to cultivate mussels.

One of the many, many beaches…we thought it looked nice, but both Cintia and Francoise assured us it wasn’t that great!

We headed to this fortress, Fortaleza de Santa Cruz da Barra. This area was originally settled by the French before the Portuguese defeated them and built the fortress. The French ended up building a fortress on the other side of the bay and they quite often had clashes before the Portuguese took over completely.


Ahar me hardies…my pirate talk!

We went into this restaurant to use the washroom…

They built it around the tree, which was neat. Sadly the restaurant has closed.

A big blue crab…

Guns used in WWII…

Francoise spotted what looked like a fire on the bridge. After checking with the guards at the fortress it turned out that it was actually a flame from the refinery on the other side of the bridge. Sure was positioned perfectly to fool us!

Leaving the fortress which is an active army base. We stopped to look in the water for turtles which Francoise said you can see if you wait long enough. We waited, but the turtles weren’t on our schedule…

We stopped at this little fishing village, Jurujuba…


The kids were having a great time diving off the board…

A crane posing…they stick around looking for any stray fish…

Another favela in the background…

We then stopped at this restaurant for lunch…


There is a buffet where you can get all kinds of salads and sushi, but they also keep bringing meat until you have to say Stop! You are given a pair of tongs, and as he is carving, you use the tongs to take the  meat.

It was so good…beef, lamb, pork, ribs…enough! We were bursting!

By this time it was almost 3:00 and time to continue our tour…we spotted a Morgan…

Francoise brought us here for a boat ride. Who knew there were wetlands within the city of Rio? Here comes our taxi driver…

Just before we jumped onboard…

There are 7 islands with 3000 people who get around by water taxi or their own boats. The wetlands contain many birds and we spotted a small alligator as well. Jim is doing well!

Lots of nice houses…

They hadn’t had much rain so there were times we had to adjust our positions in the boat to allow for the water level.

A Capivara, the largest living rodent in the world, sleeping on the shore. He wasn’t bothered by us in the least…

Francoise, Cintia and our taxi driver. When the residents want to go somewhere, they call him and he arrives at their house, just like a regular taxi.

This is how they cross from one side of the river to the other...arm power!

Snake birds…when they get in the water to look for fish, they stretch their necks out and look like snakes.

Cintia and me…we had fun catching up!

Barb and Ed chilling…it was great to go out on the water and cool off a bit.

Lots of snake birds in the trees…

A pirate ship!

At first we thought these were flamingos, but they have duck bills instead of beaks.


A big house!

Very peaceful…


Not sure what the story was here…too many Skol?

Oops…something set them off!

Beautiful flowers…

A nice place to escape, but it would be a bit of a pain if you were trying to go to work in the city each day.

They have their own garage…

We should have dropped in! Heh, heh…

There goes the peace and quiet!

Close neighbours…

Little guy under his mother’s watchful eye!

With that lovely boat ride, it was time to say goodbye to Cintia, and we continued on our tour to see the Christ the Redeemer statue.

We headed into the rain forest as we climbed up the mountain. We had some lovely lookouts along the way.

The circle is, of course, a football (soccer) stadium.

The Canavans and the Schnarrs…

A horse racing track…the lake on the left is where the rowing competitions will be held during the upcoming Olympics.

Here is our “van” for the day. Francoise had sent us a picture so it wasn’t a surprise, but it was still a surprise to see how small their “vans” are. The little window in the back is actually a third seat where Cintia and I spent the day yakking.

Sadly, it was very cloudy and there was no point making the trek up to the statue. You can take a helicopter tour which would be something, but you wouldn’t have seen a thing today. This is as close as it gets!The statue has become an icon of Rio and Brazil. It was built between 1922 and 1931 of soapstone and reinforced concrete. The statue is 130 feet tall, including a 31 foot pedestal, and is 98 feet wide.

Ed and I walked up the stairs to the lookout where we had a great view of Sugar Loaf Mountain, also in the clouds.

I think my pose needs a little work!

A panoramic view…

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Yikes…look at those clouds!

That’s one big cemetery!

We zoomed by Copacabana Beach on the way back to the ship…


The port certainly looked different than it did in the mayhem of the morning.

That evening a local group came on board for a folkloric show. That got everyone’s attention!



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Lots of energy!

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Love the Barbie dolls on the costume!

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Beautiful costumes…it would be something to see the Carnival!



The finale…good entertainment!


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We overnighted in Rio, as the ship prepared for a new set of cruisers embarking the next day. The next morning we thought we would get up early and go to the top of Sugar Loaf, but it poured rain all night and the morning brought more. I guess we’ll just have to come back another time!

The sailaway was really nice. That bridge is spectacular…

The naval headquarters on the island. They do make use of their land!

The favela near the dock…

Here we are pushing away from the dock with a Costa ship tucked in behind us.

Battleships…

Fiscal Island Palace was originally designed as the headquarters for the Brazil's Customs Service. It started off modestly, but Emperor Pedro II wasn't happy with that idea and this elaborate building was created. It played host to a grand ball in 1889 with over 5000 guests. Today it is a museum for the Brazilian navy.

Sugar Loaf Mountain…they say it looks like Snoopy laying down.

Goodbye Rio!

Yacht belonging to Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. Not bad!

The fortress in the background belonged  to the French, across the bay from the Portuguese one we visited in the morning.

They used to bring prisoners to this island and leave them on it. They would either confess or drown when the tide came in.

Our last view of the bridge...

A side of Sugar Loaf that not many people would see—the back as we sailed around…

You can see the tiny cable cars almost at the top...

Wow…Copacabana district with its 4 km long beach!

More favelas built behind the high rises…

Creeping further up the hill…

With the water shimmering and the clouds looming…it was ciao Rio! We'll have to come back again!

And we’re on to Salvador!

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