The Sambadrome, site of hte official carnival celebrations.
Did the big two today. We ended up booking a day tour through our hotel (against our better judgement, but thought it would be easier) and unfortunately realised that doing it this way is only if you are very short of time. These tours are NOT good value, particularly the ones booked through our hotel (Hotel Atlantico) - the company they use charges passengers from the Atlantico 50% (yes, you read that correctly) more than those from the cheaper hotels. We complained to the hotel, but got no joy, so be warned to shop around before booking any tours.
The first stops on the tour were at the Sambadrome and Maracana Stadium. At both, we just got off the bus, took some photos and left. We did not get to go into the stadiums and look around, so not that exciting. We then drove through a favela up Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer.
Some of the interior stained glass at the Metropolican Cathedral;
We went part-way up the hill on our larger coach, and then we transferred to the smaller park coaches which take you up to the top - private vehicles cannot access the very top area. The day was quite overcast, so the cloud kept coming in and out and blocking the view. At times, the statue actually disappeared so not an ideal day, but that´s luck of the draw. We managed to get some good views anyway, out over the harbour and the beaches of Ipanema
and Copacabana. Helicopter trips were coming up and hovering just above us, but some of them would have seen virtually nothing for the cloud cover. We were then driven back down along the beaches to a buffet BBQ restaurant in Copacabana.
Bronze sculpture just within the side doorway of the Cathedral.
Lots of meat, definitely not a good place for vegetarians. They eat the hump of the Brahma cattle here, which is quite nice, although nothing particulary special - we tried it more for the novelty value. From here, back on the bus to go to Sugar Loaf Mountain. We took two cable cars up, as the trip goes in stages over two separate hills - once again a bit of a hazy view, but could see everything. Very windy and cold up here, so recommend you bring a jacket, even if it´s warm everywhere else. Drove back through the centre and visited the Metropolitan Cathedral - quite a modern, cone-shaped building, a bit like the one in Brasilia
(and was built around the same time).
When we arrived back at the hotel, our friend HJ (we met her on the LIma-Santiago trip) had arrived to join us for the Rio-Caracas trip. Our guide from Buenos Aires-Rio (Juliana) was also in reception, so quite a reunion!