Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rio de Janiero - Day 3

Wow – how exhausted one can get when you walk all day long. It sure makes you sleep well and for me dream. I am traditionally not a dreamer but I definitely went into R.E.M. sleep last night. I woke with vivid images of the dreams and now I wish I would have jotted some notes to share but they are just a faded memory – gone!
Ok – another day waking up in Rio and the skies are partly cloudy at best. Luiz treats Margarete to a simple breakfast in bed and she enjoys the experience (little do we know she will get quite accustom to it).

We set of for the day traveling by bus again. Trying to figure out where we are going is not the easiest thing for Luiz and Margarete. ( I have a pass on this trip as the language is still a little slow for me) We don’t have an accurate bus route map and the bus stops are limited on their information. When Luiz and Margarete ask the bus drivers for assistance it seems to only frustrate them as they don’t seem to have answers and we are still not sure where we are going. Soon we find the right bus and forget about the frustrations and off we go and ready for the day with smiles galore.

We are off – what will we find around the corner. It is said that in Rio there is a surprise around every corner and I am beginning to see why. We are on our way to the Rio De Janeiro Botanical Gardens. Our journey takes a small sidetracked as we find ourselves near a venue we are supposed to be visited later in the day “ Parque Lage”. (For Luiz and Margarete this venue is a new experience as well as myself) Best I could find on line is that it was built as a sugar plantation in 1811.
 In 1840 an English landscaper is tasked to create the gardens resembling those found in England. In 1859 the Lage family purchase the property and develops it over the next years. Then in 1957 the park is acquired by the Institute of National Historic and Artistic Heritage and today houses a visual art school, studio and café.

I walk up to the mansion with my senses ready. The beauty of the building is amazing and the influence Italian architecture is apparent. We walk through the front doors surround by iron work and a ton of details. In need of a little tlc but that also gives the mansion character and romance.
There is a pool in the courtyard with rooms all the way around. It is easy to float off into fantasy in these surroundings. One can only imagine what it would have been like in a time before now: Hosting a ball here in the late 1800s or maybe a birthday part?

At the end of the pool there are tables and a café serving treats to tempt your taste buds. The aroma is fantastic but we decide to pass (one of only a few times we pass on food) as we are still full from our breakfast. We take lots of photos of the building and watch some of the students paint. After some time wondering around, we return to the front door and are greeted by a beautiful garden with a clover pond in the middle. (another great photo opportunity)

Our time at Parque Lage is done and we decide we are close enough to the botanical garden to walk. We ask the security guard at the gate if the walk is safe and he gives us the ok and we head out. It is a little longer walk then we expected and along the way we find ourselves at local coffee shop having treats and fresh squeezed juice. (these shops are everywhere as Brazilians love their coffee time) YUM!

 After quite a long trek, we arrive at the Rio de Janeiro Jardim Botanico. I had heard there were Toucans in the garden so I was anxious to begin our journey (have loved seeing these birds in previous explorations while in Brazil). As you enter you are greeted by the Avenue of the Royal Palms. The Avenue is truly majestic as it is lined by the Royal palms all of which originated from a single palm “Palma Mater”. These royal palms were brought to Brazil by the royal family of Portugal and originally only allowed to be grown by royalty. The Avenue of Royal Palms dates back to pre 1880 when the first photo record of the trees is shown in a photo advertising the park. The 134 trees line the paths in each direction at the entrance are truly majestic.

We begin to travel down the middle path and breath in the fresh garden air and enjoy the visual sensation of fountains, streams, birds, flowers, palms and other foliage. An old building creates a great back drop for taking a wide range of photos. Oh wait… we hear there is an orchid bizarre going on and were are off. There are so many great photos from the garden -- please see side show to left of blog.

As we walk towards the bizarre we cross in front of a famous Brazilian Comedian - Helio de la Penha (unknown to me) with his orchid purchase in his hand. The orchid bizarre is amazing. Thousands of orchids and photo opportunities around every tent post. 
What a beautiful flower these plants produce. We spend some time in the orchids and then head towards the entrance of the garden passing through the cactus garden, Japanese garden, and I swear walking another 5 miles. (ok maybe a little exaggerated but at least 2.5)
Hop on the bus gus and we are off to the Rio Museum of Natural History in the Boa Vista Park. Another long bus ride and when we arrive they are setting up a carnival in the park and getting ready for a concert of some sort. Just like any carnival in the United States with its vendors selling trinkets and fried food. We decide to pass on eating lunch here and see what we can find later. (It’s a little early for lunch and we just had the coffee)

At the top of the hill we find the Museum, housed in the old Imperial Palace – once João VI, Pedro I and Pedro II of the Imperial family lived at this palace. My first impression is not good of the visit as it is quite worn down over the years of neglect. The front garden at one time seems to have the potential to be spectacular. The neoclassical style palace has seen wear and tear as well as several renovations since the 1800. It is currently scheduled for a facelift before the world cup and I look forward to visiting again after it is complete. Inside the palace we are pleasantly surprised as our eyes feast on a collection of natural history information surrounded by architectural wonders. We spent a couple hours at the museum and are at the end of our visit happy we came.

The miles of walking have taken its toll on us today but we decide to at least walk to the grand gate at the entrance of the Zoo in the park. (too tired to walk through the zoo and the zoo is not high on any of our to do lists) Back through the vendors and a couple photos later we decide it is time for lunch. (can you believe we did all this walking and site seeing before lunch – ok maybe a late lunch but we are hungry) We find a cute little restaurant
but (due to price) decide in favor of a visit to the carnival vendors (due to proximity and being the only other thing close) we had passed earlier. Meat, rice and beans are on the menu and it is inexpensive. As we sit and eat under the shade of the garden trees, we watch the managers of the vendors battle the street kids from the favelas. They kids continue to go up to people eating and ask for left over as the vendor manager swats them away like flies. The number of kids you see in Rio on the streets or in poverty is truly sad and not easy to see.

We decide that we have had a day full of site seeing and head back to the apartment for a little break. The bus ride back takes us past sugar loaf and the beaches (a site that will become familiar by the time we are ready to leave). Back at the apartment as the other two nap I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. What is that? I keep watching the patio of an apartment on the other end of the urban courtyard. There it is again. Someone has left their dog out on the patio and he is attempting to jump in the window. I start to laugh as its floppy ears bounce with each jump and he makes 3-4 attempts of entry and is not seen again for a while. I can only imagine that he has to take a quick rest before continuing his efforts. I watch for a while and enjoy the down time.

Luiz and I head to the beach as Margarete goes to get her hair done. We walk along the beach enjoying the breeze off the ocean. The waves are strong and the afternoon is fading away. We stop and watch as a bride begins her attempt to cross Atlantica Avenue with all its vehicles. Her photographer and assistances have all cross ahead of her but she was not as willing to make the leap across the 4 lanes as quickly as they did. You also have to begin to wonder where the groom is as there is none in sight. It takes her a while and she finally crosses to get some great photos by the beach with the ocean in the background. The experience is over in as second as she crosses back across the avenue and disappears down the street.



Luiz and I continue our walk – adventuring off in the opposite direction as we have take on previous evening strolls. Down the beach we walk past Princess Isabel Avenida. The avenue was named after the Royal Princess Isabel and is considered the beginning of Copacabana. Isabel gave slaves their freedom in 1888 just before the monarchy ended. We continued and walked to the end of the beach and there is a walkway along the edge of the large rock formation. We walk along the edge as the ocean waves are crashing against them with thundering sound. At the end of the walk were fishermen trying their luck at the ocean feast. As the clouds in the sky scurry along, we catch a glimpse of the Corcovado—glowing on top of the mountain from the white lights at its base. The low lying clouds add intrigue and beauty to the viewing as the sky turns pink and the lights along the beach begin to come on. Another day is complete in the city with a surprise around every corner. READ RIO DE JANIERO - DAY 4

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