Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 11, 2018
After a short sleep, we were on a city tour. In 1502, Portuguese explorer Gonçalo Coelho entered a huge bay, thinking it was a river - hence the name "Rio". He must have been here in January too. Portuguese settlement was gradual but by the 17th century, Rio was Brazil's third most important settlement after Salvador da Bahia and Recife-Olinda. Many African slaves arrived and the sugar plantations thrived. In the 18th century, it was the gold mines that drove the economy. In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte was about to invade Portugal so the prince regent and 15,000 others came here and liked it so much he named it the capital of the U.K. of Portugal and ruled from here. In the 19th century, the population exploded with Europeans and ex-slaves. Rio's golden age was from 1920-1950 as it was viewed as an exotic tourist destination. In the 1960s, as the favellas (slums) grew, the city lost its romantic image as crime and violence increased. In the last 10 years, thanks to the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, it's been revitalized. Now, some favellas even have sewer, running water and a police presence! The metro system expanded and new museums and cultural spaces were created. I like it but it is a bit of a shithole, at least where we're staying. Garbage is everywhere as are the homeless; sleeping on the sidewalks and in the parks near their huge and stuffed garbage bags. Cocacobana however is beautiful with modern hotels and many shops and services. Of course, it's more expensive but if I return, that's where I'll stay.
Our first stop was at Cocacobana Beach which looked much different from yesterday. No one was there! Also, people got tired of following the paths onto the beach and the whole beach was footprints! While we waited for other group members to show up, I visited the fruit and vegetable market and did the veggies ever look fresh-
At Pao de Azucar, or Sugarloaf Mountain-
Parque da Tijuca is home to Cristo Redentor. The statue was built to hide an antennae and today is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. It was started in 1922 and finished in 1931. It's 38 meters high and weighs 1145 tons. It's a 29 meter spread from hand to hand-
Views are amazing-
They hold 65 people and take 3 minutes to go 795 meters, travelling at 36 km/h.
The views are awesome: Flamengo Beach-
No one was on Bogofota Beach but there were a lot of boats in the bay-
From here we went to see the Catedral Metropolitana but it's closed during Carnival. There are 4 stained glass windows that stretch 60 meters to the ceiling. It took 12 years to build and was inaugurated in 1976-
Of course there are drink and food stands nearby. I had a Caipirinha for $2 and it must have had 3 ounces of cachaça in it-
I love their household mail boxes. There's a place for the newspaper and another for the letters. It's often found on the gate along the sidewalk at the entrance to the home-