Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rio de Janeiro (October 6th - 10th, 2013)

On the bus to Rio de Janeiro, we read that the historic central area of the city, where the hostel we had booked was located, is not very safe in the evenings. Thus, we decided to take a taxi, and were told to wait at the taxi stand of the bus station. We left the building and saw a queue of about a hundred people, all waiting for a car. It was quite a long wait, but eventually made it to our lodgings. Unfortunately, the place was a bit prison-like (or so I assume) and that night was the first time we saw a bed bug. Not a very good start for our stay in this city. Fortunately, once we had changed hostels the next day, things got a lot better.

In the morning, we went on another great walking tour. Our guide told us, among other things, that for a long time, Rio de Janiero was the capital of Brazil, and during the time that Napoleon did his thing in Europe, it was even the capital of the Portuguese kingdom. Once the Royal Court had been transferred, shaved heads became the fashion among Brazilian women: there were lice on the king's ship, and everybody arrived bald, leading the locals to believe that this was the latest trend in Europe. The tour ended with a wonderful feijoada (black bean stew) lunch.

Radek on Escadaria Selarón during our walking tour

Our guide also recommended that we go to an outdoor samba party in the evening. Some hours later, we were on our bus, in the mood to dance. Unfortunately, it started pouring rain on our way there, and the party had been cancelled.

The next day, we decided to visit the compulsory Christ the Redeemer, one of the new seven wonders of the world. Because we like to walk, our visit involved a two-hour hike along a railroad. There is also a better path, but we discovered it only on the way down. The hill is covered by tropical forest, so we saw some beautiful flowers and funny monkeys on our way. The area near the statue was, as expected, very crowded. I managed it reasonably well, though: some years ago, we had visited the Sistine chapel, and even though it is really beautiful, I couldn't stand the crowds and wanted to leave almost immediately. Perhaps because we had made more of an effort to arrive at the statue, we spent much more time here.

Trains passed us several times on the way up

We saw marmosets ...

... and wild gladioli ...

... as well as one of the seven new wonders of the world

Our next destination, the following day, was the Sugarloaf Mountain. This is a beautiful hill with an rather unusual shape. It's possible to go there using two cable cars, but we decided to walk up the first part and just take the second cable car. On the top, we had wonderful views of the town, its beaches, and of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sugarloaf (in the middle) on a cloudy day

The weather was much better on the day we went up

The green hills and sandy beaches of Rio

Later, we had a much closer look at Rio's famous beaches: we walked about ten kilometers along the coast. Radek also tackled the waves for some time, but I just got my legs wet.

Ipanema beach at sunset

This sandcastle was just amazing!

Copacabana Palace Hotel - one of the symbols of Rio de Janeiro

It was soon time to pack our bags again: the following morning, we caught a flight down south to Foz do Iguaçu.

More photos of Rio de Janeiro can be seen here.

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