Monday, May 16, 2011

Rio de Janiero - Day 7

Another day and I wake up to noisy neighbors in the courtyard after a good night sleep. We have allowed ourselves another little break as Margarete gets her breakfast in bed.   Now that I have my feet wet in Rio and we have gone to most of the places Luiz and Margarete had planned. (except Sugar Loaf and I suggested we go there only if the skies are blue and sunny so it would guarantee some great photography of the view). I use this time to  look on the internet for things to do in Rio.  Luiz heads to the internet shop to post some photos of his own since he has been anxious to do this since we arrived. The internet we have in the apartment is Margaretes and the signal is a little weak. One computer for three people and since loading photos takes a while he decides it is better to do it at the local internet shop.
I on the other hand am able to borrow some internet access from someone locally who does not have a password on their connection. My computer needs to be on the window seal to obtain this connection, but I am happy to have some internet time.

Funds in our pockets are a little low so it is time to find a bank and a.t.m. We ask some people on the street for our bank of choice and we hit the jack pot as the lady we ask is actually heading to the bank we need, so we follow. I reflect as I wait for the others to get money, what life was like prior to a.t.m.s. I would have brought travelers checks and some cash. But if that would have run out I would have relied on my credit cards, which I still have as my back up but it sure is nice to pay for travel on a pay as you go basis. With cash back in hand we head out for the day.

We browsed the neighborhood as we head down to Princess Isabela Avenida (the beginning of Copacabana). It seems to be a little rushed walk and I am interested in checking out the nooks and crannies but have to follow the leaders or risk getting lost. We arrive at the Avenida and head toward the beach to do some what? Of course some walking… We turn to the right down Copacabana beach toward Ipanema. We stroll past the Palace hotel and by this time it is late enough for lunch so we stop at the restaurant we had found earlier in the week. We relax and Margarete and I split a meal of camarao na moranga –
a great Brazilian cuisine which is a cream based soup with shrimp as it meat and it is baked in a pumpkin and served in one as well. It was by far the best meal I have had in Rio and maybe Brazil thus far. Luiz stuck with the Brazilian standard of meat, rice, sausage, and beans. His meal was good as well and presentation from our newly found restaurant was picturesque. We talk to the staff and find out they have not been open that long and are planning a tented area out front. We wish them well and thank them for our great meal and head down the street.


After lunch we continue to walk and decide a walk Ipanema is in order so off we go. On the way we take a quick minute to look around a high end mall on the beach and fill our sights with wonderful artwork and trendy items. We continue and travel through the affluent neighborhood of Arpoador.

At the ocean of Arpoador neighborhood is a famous rock formation “Pedra do Arpoador” where we find a wonderful view of the beach. Many people head here for watching the sun set and in midsummer it is one of the rare locations in Brazil where you can watch the sun set over the ocean’s horizon. Viewing the sunset from this location was our original plan, but since the skies have not cooperated, we decide today is the day at least come and imagine what a sunset

would be like here. The ocean off Arpoador is also known to be the best metropolitan surf spot in Rio. The waves today are 5-8 feet tall and I spend some time watching the numerous surfers catching their waves. As we sit enjoying our down time, I also observe the birds, both those the birds diving into the ocean for their lunch and those around us begging for a bite. It is a quite relaxing afternoon and even though there is no sun and a little windy. We spend some time bathing in the gray skies anyway.

Back to our walk, continuing off the rock formation along the Ipanema beach, as song starts racing through my mind and off my lips. “Garota de Ipanema” (Girl from Ipanema” although I may not be 100% familiar with the lyrics, the tune is alive and well in my memory and easily whistled.

 This song originally sung in Portuguese recorded in 1962 by Astrud Gilberto, later became popular worldwide winning a Grammy in 1965. The tune continues to be in my thoughts as we continue down the sidewalk.

A little while later Margarete and Luiz begin to whisper and as we get a little further they share with me that we have just passed a famous Brazilian actress sitting having coffee. With a little prodding we turn around to meet her and see if a photo is possible. Later I find out that she is the very famous actress Fernanda Montenegro. She is often referred to as Brazil’s first lady of theater and television. Her claim to fame in the U.S. was her nod for an Oscar in 1998 for her roll in Central Station. A movie about a young boys friendship with a jaded middle-aged lady. We make our introduction and she is happy to have a photo taken with us. In English she asks if I am American (I guess it is obvious) and I say yes and we continue with the photo. This encounter gives Luiz and Margarete something to reflect on as we continue to walk down the beach. As we walk along the beach we meet another famous Brazilian television personnel from the Novela das 8, but it is right after our fortunes with Fernanda and he is one the phone so we do not turn around for a photo opportunity.

We joke about walking the whole beach and ending up at the famous “dois irmaos” (two brothers) rock (another formation of rocks named for the split in its peaks) but decided to walk through the Leblon neighborhood in hopes of coming across another celebrity. This neighborhood is quite affluent with the highest land prices in Latin America. Many famous Brazilians live in this neighborhood, so we hope our luck is good today and maybe we can find another celebrity photo opportunity.

I enjoy the neighborhood and it is very similar to that of Ipanema and the rest of Rio. There is lots of shopping to be done and the squares are full of trees and greenery. After a little search we come across a place to have coffee. We really wanted a bakery but there seemed to be none around. Of course when we left after having coffee we came across a bakery so decided to have a second coffee of the afternoon. The bakery goods were delicious and we left a little full but feeling good. (after this stop we end up seeing 2 more bakeries within a couple blocks – go figure)

We head back towards our apartment by buy and have dinner at a restaurant in the Copacabana neighborhood and end our journey with a stroll on the beach. All is good in the world and though the site seeing has been a little less today, it has been a wonderful day.  (Read Rio de Janiero - Day 8)

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