Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 14, 2013

14. Caribbean – Brazil – Rio de Janeiro 1 of 2

Hi All,

It’s Wednesday evening, Feb. 13th (the day before Valentine’s) and I’m going to try and get you caught up with our three days in Rio.  I think the best way to do that is to write two posts, this one about Rio in general and a second one about my night in the “Sambodromo” where the Samba schools parade in Rio’s number 1 show of Carnival.

First I never, when I lived in Brazil, appreciated the city of Rio as much as I do tonight.  I don’t have the words to express the feeling you have when you visit Rio today.  The city is getting ready for the “Copa do Mundo” next year.  Soccer is Brazil’s greatest sport and to hold the “world series” of Soccer is a huge honor.  Now, if that isn’t enough, in 2016 they are going to host the Summer Olympics.  The whole city is cleaning itself up to the point that they have even started tours to the slums (favelas).  On top of all that, we arrived at the most important Carnival Festival in the world, no matter what year it is.

Here we go, arrival was at 6 AM in the morning, and as I went out on the deck I took this photo of the entrance to Guanabara Bay (which we had already passed through):

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If you know Rio that’s Sugar Loaf on the right, Copacabana and Ipanema are out past Sugar Loaf on the Atlantic Ocean.  On Jan. 1, 1502 Portuguese navigators presumed Guanabara Bay was the mouth of a river (as you can see the narrow entrance), so they named the area Rio (river) de (of) Janeiro (January).  Here’s the port area early in the morning.  In front of you is being built newer port facilities.  To the right beside that cruise ship stretches a long pier where today no less than 8 cruise ships would be tying up.
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Because of the early morning haze you can’t see Corcovado and the other mountains in and around the city.

Let’s go ashore and start our first day in Rio.  First the port signs:

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Susy and I accepted an offer by H.R. Stern (one of Susy’s favorite jewelry stores in Brazil) to have a car, driver, and guide available to tour Rio our first day, Sunday, Feb. 10th.  We headed out for Copacabana beach first and here’s Susy in front of the famous beach:

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Of coarse touring is very hot work so we immediately stopped for a cool one.  Here’s Susy with our guide at one of the sidewalk café’s.

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This is Carnival and the routine is that those who participate (almost everyone) start to celebrate about 3 PM or 4PM (depending on how hung-over you are from the night before).  There are street parades everywhere,  there are block parties everywhere, and finally there is the Sambodromo where the elite parade.  All of these activities go on until 6AM or 7AM the next day, so the celebrants can get a few hours sleep before starting again.  Susy and I had just left the café when we encountered a lady who was off to a block party and loved to have a picture with us.

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Behind Copacabana and more Ipanema is a beautiful lake called “Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoa”, which is huge and is lined with café’s, luxury residences, etc. and near where the headquarters of H.R. Stern is located.  Have a look at this lake with Corcovado way in the background.

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We visited Stern’s headquarters (thank goodness I got out without Susy buying anything) and encountered a statue of a typical Carnival dressed man.  Here’s Susy with this mannequin:

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I want to stop for a minute and have you look close at this picture of Susy.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something different about this photo.  Then it hit me, it looked exactly like a photo of Pina, Susy’s mother, when I first knew her.  It was if Pina was joining us for our stay in Rio.

During our tour of Stern’s headquarters we got to see the largest collection of Tourmalines in the world, 1007 stones.  Here is just a few:

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Leaving Stern’s we headed back to the ship where again you see many people dressed to celebrate Carnival.

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That night we stayed on the ship for a Carnival party under the stars on the back pool deck.  Here you know who (Susy in the red pants) is starting a Congo line behind some passengers who created their own costumes and float.

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Rio is known for “Cristo Redentor” (the statue) which sits on top of Mt. Corcovado (Hunchback).  The mountain is the highest point in Rio (2,330 ft./710 m).  Here is the beautiful statue by night and day:

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This statue and mountain was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

On Monday, Feb. 11th Susy and I just walked around the port area as I was off to the Sambodromo in the early evening and Susy was going to another ship’s party.  The last day, Tuesday, Feb. 12th was sail-away day and again we got a look at this city and port from afar.  The port is known to be among the most beautiful ports in the world (looking at the city with Sugar Loaf in the foreground and Corcovado in the background).  This is a few of my departure photos:

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After we leave the Bay, which you see above, your out in the Atlantic and can look back at Copacabana.

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Again, my photos and words do not do justice to this city.  It was a wonderful experience we will not forget it for a long time.  I wish you all could have joined us for this part of the cruise.  Rio is a one and only.  Like no other, the typical dress is a swimming suit or shorts with floppers and a top.  You see everyone from the slim beauties to the fattest going about with smiles on their faces and a “I don’t care what I wear as long as it is cool” attitude.

That’s is for Rio in general, next join me for a visit to the world’s greatest Carnival festival, a night at the Sambodromo.

Love You All,

Gary (Gagu)


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