Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rio de Janierio - Day 2

The second day in Rio finds us waking up to cloudy skies and making our plans. We make breakfast in our apartment (about the only meal that will be accommodated in the small space). I am excited to start exploring and seeing what this place called RIO is all about. We had gone to the movie Rio (in Portuguese) and it was beautiful even if I did not understand what the animated characters were saying. I was excited to see some of the things the animators highlighted and off we were.

We step out into the street and on the corner to the right there is a street fair (farmer’s market of sorts) The air is filled with the aroma of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and fish. Luiz and Margarete decide to buy some fresh fruits for tomorrow's breakfast. They do so and head back to the room with their finds. , I stay at the street fair and continue to photograph and head down the block to see what is all there. A vendor begins to give me samples of his product (melons – strawberries –Caqui) all are delicious and I decide to purchase some fresh strawberries (maybe I was hungry but maybe I was sport eating a little -- this term comes from my friend Tina so want to give her props). He gets them ready and asks for quatorze reais—OMG R$14 (good thing I have learned a little Portuguese and know this is more then I want to spend on strawberries) I advise him I only need half (by using hand signals) and he cuts the order in half. I continue to walk down the street taking photos and enjoying the visual theater. Finally I come back to Luiz and Margarete and we head towards the beach.

The three of us begin to stroll along the mosaic side walked Atlantica Avenue. We walk quite a distance before we come across a beautiful little restaurant (brasileirinho).  It is currently closed so we are looking through the glass and the hostess comes and unlocks the doors. They allow us to take a look. It is not open but we decide it is a must come back and see and taste while in Rio.


The walk continues along as street and the visual theater continues. My eyes being to feast on several different and beautiful sights – coconuts in bags behind vendor stands just waiting to be someone refreshing coconut water – a bicycle parked against a post waiting to be ridden – our first sighting of the favelas up in the hillside with it distinct neighborhood look – and finally the friendly lady giving us directions to where we are heading. (even though on this trip I am not responsible for that)

At the end of beach is a rock formation that houses a fortification (Forte de Copacabana) the city built it to protect the beach, the entrance to the bay and to thwart off pirates. Today is houses a museum, an art gallery and will soon play host to the marathon and triathlon events at the 2016 Olympics.  It looks inviting so we decide to take a look. The long walk down the pier is very romantic. There is a little coffee shop and restaurant with seating along the ocean.  It would be easy to stop here for coffee but we  decide we'll wait for our return trip. 

Down the pier and inside the old fort – there was a musty smell and masonry artillery in place ready to be moved and launched on invaders of the community. No shells to blow something up, just to create a huge hole in the ships bowels. The museum was full of great artifacts from the forts history. The view is something spectacular as well. The fort is at the end of Copacabana and overlooks the ocean, how magnificent. We head back and like I had predicted stopped for fresh juice, coffee and pao de queijo (cheesebread). It is a well deserved stop as we have probably walked well over 5 miles at this point.

We walk a few blocks (OK like 10 or 12) and catch the bus. The public transportation in Rio is bustling and you can imagine as it needs to transport the millions of people daily. I will say there were times I could not believe how fast they traveled down the streets and shared the roads with other vehicles. One pointer for anyone traveling to Brazil – PEDESTRIANS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!!

We take the bus (about a hour ride) to the suburbs and as we travel I start feeling like we are in another country. Some place familiar and I attempted to figure it out. With the tropical plants and the strip malls, one after another - it felt just like being in Florida. (OK maybe a few less old people-LOL) The trip is very nice and allows me to see some different things of Rio and allows me to realize that Brazilians truly love to shop. We spend a little time at a mall and Margarete and I have a truly Brazilian lunch – McDonald's – I really wanted to see if the Big Mac was the same in Brazil and it was. Good but that is the one time a year I will stop and enjoy McDonald's.

On the bus ride it becomes apparent that Rio is a city of wealthy and poor with a narrow street down the middle. The favelas are right around the corner and in every pocket of the city. We take the bus to the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas where they will be holding most of the rowing and water competitions for the upcoming Olympics. On our journey from the bus stop to the lake we walk by the main offices of Flamengo – a important “football” (soccer) team from Rio de Janeiro who will be playing a very important game on Sunday.

The walk along the lake in tranquil and although the sun is not shining I begin to imagine the lake in the time of the Olympics. Crowds of people gathered around the lake to watch the rowing heats. It will be a great time in the history of this lake as the current water is quite polluted and a major project for the city. At Christmas time the large tree you may see on the Internet from Rio stands on a platform in the middle of the lake.

We continue to walk down the street passing by an exclusive club that is simple beautiful from other side of the water where we stand. In the shallow waters we pass by fishermen casting their nets hoping to catch some sort of meal. It doesn’t look like the are having much luck.

After our bus ride we end up back at the little restaurant we ate at the night before. Deciding the have spaghetti and relaxing as it was close to the hotel and we had done a tone of walking. After dinner a short stroll on the beach and to bed to bed we go.   (Read Rio de Janiero - Day 3)

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