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    • Day 168

      Rio de Janeiro

      February 20 in Brazil ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

      Gotta say we were both really nervous going into Rio.

      It's a theme in South America that everyone warns you about the next country, next town, saying that you'll get robbed, they'll steal your phone, etc, but with Rio, literally EVERYONE we met was warning us over and over again and we didn't know what to expect.

      It took us a few days to feel more comfortable, and we did take extra precautions, especially with it being Carnaval, but we did not feel unsafe or threatened.

      Quite the contrary, actually, Rio is a reeeeally cool town. The vibe is amazing. The people seemed very happy and fun-loving, and it is unbelievably gorgeous.

      It's a unique geography, with the bay and the surrounding mountains, which are absolutely covered in dense, vibrant-green vegetation.

      The views from Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains are amazing, the christ the redeemer statue is on every tourists list (of course), and the carnaval was so much fun!

      They completely shut down sections of the city, even some of the main avenues for the 'blocos' (huge, themed, block parties) - there are about 400 blocos during the week of carnaval.

      We found some costumes to get in to the full swing of the party, and we had a blast!

      And the sambadrome was absolutely amazing. All of the samba schools of Rio compete in a massive stadium, they dress up to absolute nines in the classic carnaval colours, feathers, glitter, and dance their way through this massive arena with huge, brightly-coloured, parade floats and the scale of it is hard to describe. It is absolutely amazing and one of our highlights here for sure.

      All said and done, which kind of wish we had more time, just for the fact that we were a bit anxious coming here at first. But once we got used to the beautiful madness that is Rio de Janeiro, we loved every second of it and we can not wait to be back!
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    • Day 10

      Sugar Loaf Mountain

      September 10 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      "Prepare yourself for a queue tomorrow" was the last advice for our guide Maria. She had seen some videos of the day before, and the queue was down the street. This is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Rio, so we expected it already.

      When we arrived though, there was no line. Our luck from Paraguay border continued (Plus some sage planning from our guide to get there as early as possible.)

      Sugar Loaf Mountain is in two sections with two cable cars. Advice was to skip the first mountain in the way up and rush to get the best view points from the higher section at 395 metres, half the height of Christ the Redeemer.

      The view over the bay and city was stunning. Not only did we have an excellent boarding, the weather was crystal clear.

      One of those places you see all the time in advertisements and then have to pinch yourself when you're actually there. We did that while drinking the water out of a green coconut. Because, Rio, right?
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    • Day 8

      Bye bye Rio

      August 15 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      Gestern war ich schreibfaul!

      Kein Regen , aber Nebel. Unsere Tour ging zu den unausweichlichen Punkten, Christus und Zuckerhut. Letzterer vernebelt.

      Wegen des schlechten Wetters konnten wir den Strand nicht nutzen

      Jetzt geht es weiter nach Chile

      Yesterday I was lazy in writing.
      No rain, but fog.

      We went to the 2 musts in Rio

      Sugarloaf and Christ,, first one in fog

      Because of the bad weather we couldn’t use the beautiful beach

      No we are on the way to Chile
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    • Day 8

      Sugar Loaf and being a beach bum

      September 9, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      Joe’s rich pasta dish last night must have not been the best choice, or maybe the tap water did it, but for whatever reason, we had a very late morning start. I took advantage and walked a few miles up and down the beach, and by 11 or so we were on our way to the “bondinho” (cable car) up to Sugar Loaf Mountain. It is a big piece of rock jutting out of the water, with amazing views. Getting there involves a stop on an intermediary rock, about half as high as Sugar Loaf itself. The views at every turn were pretty amazing, but I have to say I was left wishing I could have seen the bays and coves and mountains before all the high rise building.

      After a lunch in a beach café, I was once again left to entertain myself for a few hours, and this time I spent a good chunk of post-elliptical time sitting on the roof of our hotel in a beach chair next to the pool with views over the ocean below. Yes, very uncharacteristic of me to sit and do nothing, but it was relaxing, I will admit. Not sure about dinner tonight, that will depend on Joe’s stomach.
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    • Day 139

      Rio de Janeiro

      February 19 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

      Es gibt wahrscheinlich, wenn überhaupt, nur eine Handvoll an Städten, die ähnlich beeindruckend gelegen sind wie Rio. Meer, Strände, große Berge, die Christusstatue und viele Monolithen überall in der Stadt verteilt. Der Ausblick von der Christusstatue ist phantastisch, aber leider ist es auch brechend voll da oben und wir sind extra früh gekommen (Zuckerhut ist leerer, weil mehr Platz).
      An unserem ersten Abend sind wir zum Sambódromo gegangen, um die Parade dort anzuschauen. Das war richtig toll! Wir haben zwar nur die zweite Liga angeschaut, aber es war ein richtiges Spektakel!
      Wir haben auch James Freund Carlos und seine Verlobte getroffen. Sie haben uns auf eine Nebel-Wanderung mitgenommen und wir haben mit ihnen sehr gut brasilianisch gegessen. Sie haben uns auch zu einer Churrascaria mitgenommen, was ein all you can eat brasilianisches BBQ ist.
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    • Day 10

      Beach Walk and Marius Restaurant

      September 10 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      Come for the experience, stay for the food.

      Walking along Copacabana beach at night, people packing up day mode and moving into night mode. The beach was still alive with partially clothed beautiful people. We enjoyed the walk as the sun went down until the end of the path and turning back towards our restaurant.

      Marius is unlike anything I've been to before. Every inch of the restaurant (and it's big) was littered with decorations. The ceiling, the walls and even the floor.

      Sitting down they put a little flag on the table that represent the counties of the people dining at that table. I'm not a flash guy, but looking around there were definitely some I didn't recognise.

      This too was a type of Brazilian BBQ, except it included seafood too. Prawns, calamari, fish, octopus and then also the meats of steaks and even wild pig ribs.

      The bathroom was an experience on its own. I've never taken so many pictures in one bathroom before. Gravel on the floor, rocks in the sink, big chest like locks on the cubical doors, a wooden toilet and ice in the urinal. I was fascinated.
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    • Day 3

      Full day in Rio

      June 18 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      After 11 hours of sleep 😴, we decided to take another hike to the halfway point of sugarloaf mountain ⛰️ From there, we took the cable car because for the other half alpine climbing skills are needed…
      Kathi also got her first “thousand” mosquito bites 🙄 🦟
      After some great views and a snack on top, we went to the botanical garden to see many many different palm trees and monkeys 🐒
      After another “short” walk to Ipanema beach and an Uber (instead of bikes) back to the hotel we finished the day with some Brazilian food and a drink on a rooftop bar.
      Takeaway of the day: almost no one speaks English here 😰
      and Spanish is no Portuguese 🙅‍♀️
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    • Day 12

      Feijoada Flop

      September 13, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      Joe kept insisting he had to have a feijoada. It’s the “typical” Brazilian meal, a pot filled with all kinds of meats, surrounded by plates of mantioc flour, collard greens, orange slices, beans, rice, etc. The place he remembered, the restaurant in the modernist Copacabana Palace Hotel, no longer serves feijoada. But we persisted.

      After a visit to the Copacabana Fort, built by the Portuguese to fend off the French, British, and Dutch (and maybe a few more), we took a long walk on two other iconic Brazilian beaches — Arpoador (named after the Harpoon Stone, from which harpooners supposedly used to hunt whales) and Ipanema. Now that I can compare all the beaches, I would say for sure that Copacabana is the prettiest — longest stretches of sand, widest beaches. But all of them have side lanes of traffic whizzing by and endless high rise apartment buildings.

      And then, having worked up an appetite, came the feijoada. Let’s just say it’s one of those experiences that should have been left in the memory and not repeated. I am glad I chose a salad. Now Joe is sleeping it off, and I am feeling superior for having been able to hop on the elliptical without feeling like I had a rock in my stomach. And now I am on the hotel terrace looking out as dark clouds move ini. All very dramatic.

      Home tomorrow!!!
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    • Day 7

      On to Rio

      September 8, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

      We sadly said goodbye to dear daughter, who is staying another day in Sao Paulo to see friends, and hopped on a short flight to Rio. At the airport, a group of about 5 was obviously talking about me, and 2 took my picture. I guess this is as close to famous as I will ever be — my son told me I should put on a Brazil selection shirt or jacket and then see how I get the royal treatment. :-)

      Uber has flooded the Rio airport. There are special signs pointing you down the Uber path, and a meeting point with about 20 parking spots. Three Uber employees direct traffic, announce arrivals of drivers, and call for passengers. The fare into town was about $10, compared to $50 in a cab. As you might imagine, there was nothing going on at the taxi stands.

      Our hotel is right on the beach named Leme, the so-called “quiet family zone.” We’re on the 15th floor with a pretty decent side view (I guess you pay more for a beach-facing view, but at least we are not in the back!). We have eaten, walked, and worked out (LifeFitness elliptical, woo hoo!), and it is night. The roof-top pool has a restaurant with great views. I assume the food is bad and overpriced, but we may just go ahead and splurge tonight.

      Since we have lost our tour guide, we will have to start reading up on the sights and planning a few days’ worth of activities. The one thing I was sure to do was book a feijoada in the Copacabana Palace for Saturday. Feijoada on Saturday is a Brazilian tradition and the one we had there 30 years ago was pretty good!
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    • Day 11

      Folklore and Presidents

      September 12, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      We had a really nice combination of things to do today. First to the folklore museum — nice artifacts, but for me the highlight was the cute groups of school kids. Then a short walk to the former Presidential Palace now a museum, and the place where the dictator Getúlio Vargas committed suicide. The gun he used and his bloody nightshirt are on display, kind of grotesque, I thought. All of our day’s locations were within a km or so of each other, so we walked around downtown a lot. That is one of my favorite activities when in a big city.

      Lunch in another restaurant Joe remembered — another white tablecloth place, I am getting the idea that he was usually living high on the hog down here. From there we went to the Institute where lots of research was done. And since Joe has never met an academic bookstore he didn’t love, he was in hog heaven. We got inside the institute and walked around his old haunts, even though the archives where he spent the most time have been moved.

      Dinner tonight in a Lebanese restaurant — after a week in Sao Paulo with its excellent Lebanese restaurants, this one has a pretty high standard to live up to, we will see!
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