Greetings from Copacabana!
My word we had a really busy day yesterday. We started off by going up the Corcovado to see the monument of Christ the Redeemer which pretty much dominates the skyline of Rio. Oh my word, it is the most amazing thing. It is absolutely massive and towers over the whole of the city. It is clean and well kept and the views out over the whole of Rio from it are just out of this world. I could have spent all morning up there but we were being driven by some random little man that the hostel had organised for us and so we had to move on as we had him as a driver for a limited time. Dad would not have liked the drive, hairpin bends a go-go to make you feel incredibly sick! A real tourist treat! (The Corcovado, translation of which is hunchback, is a reference to the mountain alone and Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is the statue that lies on top. The mountain rises up to 710m above the city. The statue itself welcomes visitors to the city with out stretched arms and stands another 30m high and weighs over 1000 tonnes. It was originally built as a national monument to celebrate Brazil’s 100 years of independence from Portugal but the centenary came and went in 1922 without the sufficient funds to start the construction. In 1931 the French sculptor Paul Landowski, thanks to some financial assistance from the Vatican, completed the statue)
In the afternoon we went and visited Maracana Stadium. The Wembley of Brazil and it was amazing. Unfortunately we couldn’t walk on the pitch like we were all hoping but we got to sit in the seats and get a feel of the place. It must be THE MOST amazing experience to be in there watching a match with a full crowd! It is totally in the round and so you would be able to see nearly all of the crowd from where you are sitting and so feel the enormity of the crowd. The strangest thing that I noticed was that at either end of the extended pitch there was a pay phone, what on earth were they needed for in that position – Pele to use it to phone home? “Hi Mum, just at the stadium, yup just scored a goal!” (The stadium easily accommodates 100,000 people but for the World Cup Game of 1950 and Pele’s last match it squeezed in closer to 200,000 fans. The seating though has since been greatly reduced.) We did think about going to see a match if there was one on whilst we were there. I can’t remember if there was one on or not, but we decided against it as they are pretty raucous events with the crazed fans supporting their teams in all sorts of ways from chanting, waving banners, pounding huge samba drums, exploding firecrackers, Roman candles and smoke bombs, launching incendiary balloons, throwing toilet paper, beer and even dead chickens and, which really disturbed us the most, mugs of bodily fluids. Not really what we wanted at the very start of our trip. It can also be incredibly dangerous and we weren’t feeling that adventurous then!
After that we went on a ferry ride to a neighbouring city called Niteroi as the ferry ride was reported to give you the most amazing views back over Rio. And that it did. We also managed to time it really well as the sun was setting just as we came back into Rio, beautiful. We then went up to San Teresa, the area where Ronnie Biggs used to live, and had supper in a little Brazilian restaurant next door. (Bar do Arnaudo, Rua Almirante Alexandrino 316-B, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) I had a 15cm sq hunk of goats’ cheese and a 600ml bottle of beer, a weird combination for supper I know!!! When he lived here you could book in to go and have a bbq with him at his house on a Saturday night which would have been quite amusing but he came back to the UK only a couple of weeks ago due to failing health.
This morning we have spent the morning on Copacabana beach as Chlo was meant to be going hand gliding but it was too windy this morning. We all had henna tattoos done on the beach (FAKE ONES DAD, THEY LAST 5 DAYS!!!), which was a highly amusing experience. I am fed up of people whistling at me while I am trying to sun bathe, as they want to sell me some cheap tack. BUGGER OFF!
We leave for Sao Paulo tomorrow, a 5-hour bus journey; I hope that the bus is air-conditioned. Yesterday it was a mild 36°c – a little hot and sweaty. Today I haven’t seen a thermometer it is breezy but really humid.
Not quite sure when I will next see an email machine (I think I meant a computer!) but I hope that some of you will have made an effort to email me by the next time that I check. Thanks Farts by the way, now can you please email me the lyric’s to Shaggy’s Angel and find out what the name of the horse is in the Never-ending Story, that is your task from Chloe and I for the week!
Loads of love and hugs to one and all,
I seem to have missed out a whole chunk of the things that we did in Rio. I was positive that I sent an email called The Girls from Ipanema or something like that but on checking with everyone it turns out that I was imagining it! Chloe got to do her hand gliding and Ed and I were able to go up to the top with her and watch her jump off with her guide. She just had to run off the end of a steep ramp and was away. My stomach turned as I watched her it was awful! We went for a stroll along Ipanema beach, which is Rio’s richest suburb, and the most chic beach. It is safer and cleaner than Copacabana. There are different part of the beach that attract different crowds, there is the gay part of the beach (which Ed obviously liked!) the hippie, leftists and artists part and the young and beautiful also go down to that part at sunset to smoke a joint. We went in the middle of the afternoon and had an ice cream, slightly different! It is advised that you don’t swim in the waters as the waves can get big and the undertow is apparently very strong. There was no way that I was going to strip off anyway with all the thin bronzed beauties around, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb!
We went to Garota de Ipanema (Rua Vinicius de Morais 49, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), which was where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote The Girl from Ipanema. A recent Brazilian Playboy survey rated their beer (chopp) as the best in Rio, so it had to be tried really! We went out for supper in the Copacabana Palace, which is favoured, by royalty and rock stars and so we had to put on our best clothes. It was a tough choice as to wear trainers or flip-flops in case they had a dress code! Thankfully they didn’t. It has a great pool that we sat by and had our three course meal with wine and it cost us only £33 each. The rooms are kind of expensive hence we didn’t stay there. I’d love to stay there at some point, it looks gorgeous. We were trying to see if there was anyone famous around but I guess that it was not really the time of year for a trip to Rio!