Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rio de Janiero - Day 5

Wow – 4 days of wonder – but as I wait to start my day (and we are definitely sleeping in) I think about my journey in learning a new language. I need to stay focused on this task as I started with classes at Emory several years ago and a couple weeks ago I began studying with Rosetta Stone. I have to be patient with myself and allow the process of learning take its place but I can already tell I am anxious to learn. While in Rio I want to start learning some words each day and really focus on listening to conversations around.

OK – on to our day. Like I stated earlier we slept in and the morning light as we are meeting a friend Jim for lunch in Copacabana. Margarete enjoys her breakfast in bed and I check emails, facebook, and the internet to see what is happening in the world.
 It is a nice morning partly sunny skies so we decide to take a trip to the beach and do a little sun bathing. Beach time to me means lying in the sun with my eyes closed. As soon as you close your eyes, relaxation sets in, with the waves crashing against the shore, birds singing overhead and the water cooled breeze flowing over your face. It is truly a reminder of the power of Mother Nature. We are at the beach a little while and decide it is time to head back and get ready for lunch.

Once we are ready we head off to begin our walk to Ipanema. We arrive at the Chopp restaurant a little early and so walk around the neighborhood. There is a famous fair on Sunday mornings so we do a quick walk through. All the typical wares of a Brazilian street fair. After the fair we head to take trip to the beach again as that just seems the thing to do. I realize the four lanes of traffic are closed (like they were in Copacabana this earlier) to allow foot traffic the extra space for the crowded Sunday. The beach is filling up with beautiful people (and no so beautiful ones as well). Surfers are trying to catch the almighty wave and the summer sporting activities have begun.

We head back to the restaurant and enjoy a nice lunch with Jim. I have a traditional meal of Feijoada served with oranges and sugar cane rum. This dish originated in the poor and slave communities as originally it was made with left over meat parts. Today it is a treat to the Brazilian culture and me.

We decide to go see where he is staying and check out his neighborhood so we head towards the “Metro Rio” for the first time. The “Metro Rio” was started in 1979 and today transports millions through out the city.

We have stayed away from the metro as it is underground and you don’t see any sights while going from point A to point B, but we will give it a try today. We walk to the General Osario Station and arrive at a 23 story tower that rises above. It connects the city below with the Cantagalo and Pavao/Pavaozinho favelas above. The elevators to the top are free and there is a viewing tower at the top. There is some hesitancy to check it out but after the security guard tells us we are safer at the observation deck then we are standing there talking to him. We proceed up the elevator. The view of Ipanema is spectacular and I wonder what the views from the homes in the favela’s must be like. In the United States this would be what people would want and start purchasing the land to build their high dollar homes (for the view). We take the opportunity to snap photos all around and head back down to the Metro.

 The Metro Rio is a very modern subway system and very clean. I am impressed with it as it rivals the ones in New York, D.C., and London. We hop on the train and there is one difference I notice right away – less seating. I am sure at peak times it gets crowded so to maximize the space the seating on one side is along the wall instead of stretching out into the isle. This will allow for more people to stand on their commute.

We arrive in Jim’s neighborhood and see his apartment. Larger then the apartments I have seen yet in Brazil and very similar to the U.S. His neighbor treats us to more architectural delights as we walk around a while.

We pass by Palacio das Laranjeiras (the official residence of the governor of the state of Rio) It is beautiful building and a find at the end of Jim's street. We have a thought to head to a mall where there is a view of sugar loaf from the top that is great so with little thought of how far of a walk this will be we take off. At first a little hurried as we want to arrive before sunset. I also notice that traffic is light this afternoon as their is huge "football" (soccer) game on today and almost all Brazilians are watching. We walk along the bay in the Flamengo neighborhood. Across the bay is wonderful views of the rock giant Sugar Loaf. As we walk there are lots of people out running, walking, bicycling, and boating. We enjoy the cool breeze coming off the water. Oh wait…what is that? 
Guys playing American Football on the beach, this is not the typical sport on the beach in Brazil but it shows that there are people with different tastes all over the world. We arrive at the mall and scurry to the top. (all but Margarete who decides to get a foot massage instead) The view of Sugar Loaf is magnificent and we snap some more photos. The viewing area is not very big and you can tell that is no the intention of the deck. But we enjoy the view anyway.
After this long walk we decide to go down and relax and have a cup of coffee. There was Starbucks (imagine that!) on the 2nd floor so we head there and soon find ourselves enjoying a cup of Joe a snack. After our stop for coffee we walk back to the “Metro Rio” – us going in one direction and Jim heading the other. The day is ending so we head to the beach for a stroll and to show Margarete the fisherman and walkway we had found the previous night with out her. It is a nice walk and wonderful ending to another great day in Rio (sure hope tomorrow there is sun! Views are on the agenda! )(Read Rio de Janiero - Day 6)

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