To do lists are being shortened. See that circle in South America, I get to go there!
First stop in a big city run through the East coast of South America. Here you’ll find many of Rio’s greatest hits.
I love big world-class cities and capital cities even when they’re not so world-class. I’m getting to visit four of them on this trip, Rio, Asuncion, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires.
And amazingly, I get to see Iguazu Falls. I’ve visited Niagara and Victoria and both experiences were so awesome I’ve been dreaming of visiting Iguazu for years, and now I get to go.
I flew down to Brazil in relative luxury since for both flights the middle seat was empty. Oh JOY. We arrived on time, I had a totally delightful uber ride to town, and by late morning was settled into my hotel.
My goals for the day were to get money, get a map, and get orientated. I spent so much time looking for and failing to find a map that I did get a little orientated to my neighborhood.
My hotel is on the right where it says Hotel, in the Lapa district of Central Rio de Janeiro.
Lapa according to Lonely Planet: “On the southwestern edge of Centro, Lapa is a ramshackle neighborhood that’s also the epicenter of Rio’s nightlife, with dozens of samba-filled bars and clubs, and late-night street parties. Uphill from Lapa, Santa Teresa is a picturesque neighborhood of winding streets and old mansions that have been restored by the many artists and bohemian characters who have settled there.”
How did I end up here? Night life and hill climbing? Still I’m very happy with the neighborhood if the first day says anything.
Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, “built in the beginning of the twentieth century, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful and important theatres in the country.
“The building is designed in an eclectic style, inspired by the Paris Opéra of Charles Garnier. The outside walls are inscribed with the names of classic Eurocentric & Brazilian artists. It is located near the National Library and the National Fine Arts Museum, overlooking the spacious Cinelândia Square.”
…these guys were having a rally but I had no idea of the topic.
The presidential election is coming up in less than two weeks but unfortunately I’ll miss it. According to my airport uber driver there has been a centrist president for the last year and a half but there is a candidate with the same polemical style as Trump running and he has some chance of winning much to the dismay of everyone not of the far right persuasion.
Coxinha, of course I have to have one of these. It’s pronounced ko-she-nyha.
“The coxinha is based on dough made with wheat flour and chicken broth and optionally mashed potato, which is filled with shredded spiced chicken meat, or a whole chicken thigh. The filling consists of chicken, and onions, parsley and scallions, and occasionally tomato sauce, turmeric and catupiry cheese. The coxinha is coated in batter, then in bread crumbs or manioc flour and deep fried. The dough used to coat the filling is generally prepared with the broth of the chicken, enhancing the flavor of the coating.”
I bought the smallest quantity, two, I ate one and it was crunchy and chewy and interesting. I gave the second one to a panhandler on the street who did not seem pleased.
Carioca Aqueduct and also called Arcos da Lapa built in the mid-1700s to bring drinking water to the city. There’s a tram that runs on top of the aqueduct that goes up to Santa Teresa and I hope to ride it one day.
Behind the arches you can see a beehive/pyramid looking building. It’s the Cathedral!
…it looks like this. I gasped. It’s so close to me I’ll probably drop by again.
It’s new, “…designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca in a modern style based on Mayan architectural style of pyramids. Built between 1964 and 1979 this cathedral replaced as seat of the Archdiocese a series of churches that had served as cathedrals since 1676.”
On the way back to the hotel I stopped at my snack man, he’s my snack man now because we discussed all the snacks, me in Spanish with a bit of English, he in Portuguese with a bit of English, and it was so much fun.
I’ve been speaking Spanish a lot more frequently than I thought I would but for people who don’t speak so much English it seems they can more easily understand my school girl Spanish and I can even get a little of the gist in Portuguese. What fun!
Yesterday I walked around Tijuca (pronounced something like tze-zoo-ka) with Nina and it was so interesting.
Today VeeVee from France joined me and Nina for a longer outing including Metro, walking-walking, and car rides.
We really got around including driving the entire stretch from Leblon-Ipanema-Copacabana-Leme, from lifeguard stations 1-12 with each station having it’s own personality. Look it up so when you choose a beach, you’ve got one that suits your interests, or just stroll along and stop when it feels right.
Here’s a bit of the beach with the Two Brothers in the foreground and the Vidigal Favela between them and another mountain whose name I can’t remember right now.
Remember the snack man from yesterday? Nina brought snacks for us that she said was the most local and most addictive snack in Rio. Yes, the two were the same, so it must be true!
VeeVee and I wanted to see Olympic Boulevard, a big art project created at the pier and warehouse district for the 2016 Olympics. So Nina said sure, let’s go! What a gal.
This is a monumental work by Eduardo Kobra, a world-renowned Brazilian graffiti artist and was the largest mural in the world at the time. He’s from Sao Paulo, not Rio, much to Nina’s chagrin.
“The work depicts a Tajapo boy from Brazil, a Mursi woman from Ethiopia, a Kayin woman from Thailand, a Supi man from Northern Europe, and a Huli man from Papua New Guinea. They represent humanity’s common ancestors, the indigenous people from America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.”
I got this from the internet because I couldn’t get a full shot myself and it’s necessary to feel for the scale.
Olympic Boulevard has much more on it than the painted warehouses. The area was cleaned up for the Olympics and that wasn’t so long ago.
There was the Olympics in 2016 and the World Cup in 2014 and a lot of the new infrastructure and decorations were built for these occasions. Like Nina likes to say, not for the people.
Avilherme “Billy the Kid”; Gola
The inset is from wiki as is the following: “Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps’, is a set of world-famous steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”.”
I’m never getting to look at it like wiki did!
Remember the first evening when I took a picture of that maybe scary looking side street around the corner from my hotel? This is the next street over…
A few of the highlights from my neighborhood – my hotel, the arches, the Cathedral, the buildings with the cross cut out, the Selaron Steps to my left, and the Petrobras building is just off to the right. The park is further to the right and behind.
If you want to stay at the beach there are plenty of options but if you want to be within walking distance of so much good stuff, and seven minutes to the Metro, I highly recommend Lapa for a home base.
Strolling around Lapa one finds so many lines for delicious-looking foods that I couldn’t stand in them all. I was trying to figure out what this was and one of the women in the surrounding crowd poked me in the arm, put her finger to her lips and said YES. OK then.
They pour a tapioca batter into a ring on the grill, add fillings, cook, flip, fold into a taco shape, et voila! I asked for the most popular one. I have no idea what was in it but it was very good.
A view into my neighborhood from the Santa Teresa Tram that runs over the arches and into Santa Teresa.
“The Santa Teresa Tram… that connects the city centre with the primarily residential, inner-city neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, in the hills immediately southwest of downtown. It is mainly maintained as a tourist attraction and is nowadays considered a heritage tramway system, having been designated a national historic monument in 1988.
“Having run continuously since its opening in 1877 (except for a 2011–15 suspension), it is one of the oldest street railway lines in the world and having been electrically powered since 1896, it is the oldest electric railway in all of Latin America. It is also the only remaining metropolitan tram system in Brazil.”
The sprinkles were turning into rain and I judged that the local people knew best since all the street vendors were covering up with plastic so I decided to enjoy a leisurely meal and make it an early night.
In the foreground you can see those pod shaped guys on a post. Public telephones! They are clustered on most corners. Nina said the city tried to take them out but the hue and cry brought them back.
It’s a political rally for Bolsonaro.
Here’s what Voice of America has to say about him:
“The former army captain and seven-term congressman has tapped into deep unease in Brazil, which is reeling from a sweeping corruption scandal and is struggling to grow again after a protracted recession.
“Bolsonaro has expressed nostalgia for the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, has been repeatedly fined for offensive comments, and has made cracking down on crime a centerpiece of his campaign. He says he supports market-friendly economic policies but has given few details.”
From The Guardian:
“But he is widely loathed by political opponents for his inflammatory attacks on women, black people, gay people, foreigners and indigenous communities, for which he was fined and even faced charges of inciting hate speech.
“In 2015 he was ordered to pay compensation to a fellow member of congress for saying that she wasn’t “worth raping”.”
I emerged from the subway at my station and YIKES the place, at about 7pm was insanely unexpected with multiple political groups, not just the Bolsonaro people and the ground was ankle-deep in the detritus of eating and drinking.
There were a dozen of these carts selling liquor of every type and some specializing in…
I had to get out so early today, at 6:45 to arrive at the meet-up place for a tour of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. This is the every-morning buffet at the hotel and it is both satisfying and tasty. They open at 6:30 so that worked great for today.
I decided to take a tour of those two must-see tourist destinations so as to make sure I did those things and so as not to have to mess with transportation and it was perfectly fine.