I figured that as lovely and sunny as Salvador is, there was no way I could leave Brasil without visiting Rio de Janeiro! Many times I've thought to myself that I picked the best country in the world to come to completely alone as Brazilians are just so friendly! Something that quite clearly illustrates this; a colleague Flavio said I was welcome to stay with his family in Rio, even though he wouldn't be there and they'd never met me before! I was quite reluctant at first (hello- how to impose 101!) but Paulo (Flavio's brother) gave me a call and was so lovely about it that I was convinced!
I'm quite glad that I did stay with them, they are such a warm and welcoming family - muito obrigada Sr e Sra Pinto pela hospitalidade :) Paulo could speak English, but not Mr & Mrs Pinto so it was a case of trying to use all the Portuguese I knew - which wasn't much but I reckon I get full marks for effort! :)
So after the 2 hour flight from Salvador to Rio on Friday night, we headed to Lapa for some samba with his friend Luciana. She was a samba demon! and gave me some pointers seeing as though I had no idea how to samba! I got the basic gist of it pretty quick and we ended up having a grand old night!
I breakfasted with the family on Saturday morning (I now have a taste of what it must be like for an exchange student on AFS) before heading out to do some sightseeing and catch up with some of Paulo's friends.
On Sunday it was raining (!) but we drove around and checked out a few more sights and met up with some more friends.
I left monday morning and although I'd only known the Pinto family for a weekend it was kinda sad saying goodbye to them, the last thing Mrs Pinto said to me was "Volte Sempre" which is basically you're always welcome back, an offer I don't think I'll be able to refuse :)
CORCOVADO & CRISTO REDENTO (Christ the Redeemer)
Well if there was one thing I had to see in Rio, it was Cristo Redentor. It's stunning - I'd seen so many pictures of it, but only standing at his feet do you appreciate how breathtaking it actually is. At night he's lit up and can be seen from nearly ever part of the city - very cool!
Being a must see attraction has it's drawbacks - like lots of frigging tourists trying desperately to get a cheesy shot of them with Cristo ;)
Looking out from Corcovado (Corcovado is the name of the mountain that the Jesus statue is on)
Looking out onto the city below. Pão de Açúcar is in the middle of the picture. Unfortunately the day was a little cloudy...
FLORESTA DA TIJUCA
The worlds largest urban forest. We drove through Floresta da Tijuca to get to Corcovado...
Lo and behold - forest!
Paulo and me A favela in the floresta
PÃO DE AÇÚCAR (Sugar Loaf Mountain)
Before checking out Pão de Açúcar, we had a snack of Queijo quente (literally hot cheese, which is on a stick and this time sprinkled with oregano) and a drink of coco verde (green coconut) to drink - yum yum!
Chilling on Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) snacking on our treats
Shot of the cable cars going between the 2 mountains of Pão de Açúcar. I was curious to know how it got it's name but no-one I asked seemed to know...
Looking West from Pão de Açúcar onto Botofoga beach
Looking North - Praia do Flamengo is on the left and the bridge to Niterói is faint, but in the middle/right
Ilhas das Palmas
Looking south west onto Praia Vermelha (foreground) and Copacabana (to the left)
This was (if not still is) the world's largest stadium - in the 1950 World Cup game which was Pelé's last game, it fitted 200,000 fans! Not so many people this time round as we were watching Fluminense (a Rio team) play Forteleza (a much weaker team from Northern Brasil). If the game had been between 2 Rio teams, it would have been much more full...
Fluminense coming onto the pitch. You can see it's quite empty, but another reason for this is because the stadium is being renovated for the PanAmerican games in 2007.
The fans! Although the stadium was quite empty for Maracanã standards, these supporters with their big samba drums were giving it all they had.
So I mentioned that Forteleza was meant to be the weaker team, but it didn't quite pan out like that. These are the few Forteleza fans cheering their hearts out after scoring the first goal.
And this is a prime example of "the silence was deafening". The Fluminense fans sit in stunned silence after Forteleza score their 3rd goal!
The final score... 3-1 to Forteleza. I really wish I could understand Portuguese cos I tell you, the people around me were NOT happy with their team. And being South American, they're so wonderfully animated anyway, and especially so, when expressing disappointment and frustration! But I spose as Paulo said, I spose I didn't really need to understand Portugese to guess the kind of things they were saying ;)
GENERAL SIGHTS Rio Branco - the main strip in Rio's CBD
Pretty old building - Theatro Municipal
So I am not going to be in Brasil for Carnaval which is kinda sucky... These are the blocos that people sit in to watch all the floats go by as part of the parade. (However, as I'm practically a Bahiana now, I feel it's my duty to mention that Carnaval in Salvador is meant to be the best, as that's where you get the best participation of the masses! I've heard people say that Rio is where tourists go, but Salvador is where Brasileiros go!)
So speaking of carnaval, we stumbled across these samba dancers taking a break in the middle of the CBD. Bit random but it might have been part of Rio Festival
Somone soon came round and gave the dancers kangas (sarongs) to put on to stop them from getting cold - fair enough, they weren't really wearing very much!
Typical street corner
Some apartment blocks, main method of housing in Rio (well that and favelas I spose)
The girl from Ipanema ;)
Rainy Rio! Oh well, at least Paulo had a car to drive around it - otherwise catching buses everywhere in the rain would have been muito manky!
Dinner on Sunday with Paulo and friends. And why bother getting authentic Carioca food when you can have Mexican, complete with Margheritas! (L-R Paulo, me, Marcelo, Emanuelle & Perla)
The family! :)