Our First Day in the Cidade Maravilhosa
Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog› entry 30 of 35 › view all entries
November 12th, 2006 – by: worldcitizen
The bus was pretty empty so we picked good seats and got comfortable as we drove to pick up more passengers from other hotels. But then we got to another location and they told us to get off and get on another bus that was almost full.
We soon arrived at the first stop, Pao de Acucar. We had to wait for our turn to ride the gondola to the first level. Rio is fantastic from above and quite different from anything else I've ever seen. There were steep green mountains with white skyscrapers in the valleys between, curved beaches, and Corcovado in the distance. We hung out for awhile there and then took the gondola up to the second level for more views. We checked out the gift shop at the top and our tour guide was excited to point out some "Baianas" to me because she knew I'd spent time in Bahia.
Our next stop was the Metropolitan Cathedral. It was a huge pyramid shaped church. If I remember correctly what the guide said, they made the church so large to make you feel small in comparison to God. The inside was also impressive with four huge stained glass windows. I think the different colors of the windows had some significance.
We dropped people off before lunch and then the rest of us headed to a Churrascaria for lunch. You should always be hungry and prepared to eat when you go to a Churrascaria! At the table they had pao de queijo, these delicious little cheese balls you find everywhere in Brazil. First, we got some food at the salad and sushi bars. As we started to eat, they brought out arroz and batatas fritas (rice and fries). Then they started bringing out the meat. Our paper placemats had a picture of a cow that was numbered and labeled so you could visualize what they were bringing out each time.
After lunch it began to drizzle and we hoped it would stop as we were about to go up to Corcovado. We picked up some more passengers before heading over to the mountain. I think it was along this part of the drive that we passed by the Sambadromo and the Maracana futebol stadium where tons of fans were headed for a game. As we approached the Tijuca Forest, we forgot we were in the middle of a large city. It is really nice to see such a large piece of rainforest preserved in an urban city.
On the way back we drove through Ipanema and we stopped at the Hippie Fair.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that turned out to be a buffet... a bad recommendation from the concierge. I'm definitely not a buffet person and after our huge breakfast and lunch, the last thing we needed was a buffet! The free drink tickets the concierge gave us partly made up for it. After dinner, we went to get a phone card. The magazine stand vendor was really impressed when I said, "cartao telefonico international?" with what was presumably the right accent. In Salvador they didn't seemed too impressed with gringos' attempts to speak Portuguese. Possibly because less tourists go there. Or maybe it's because we lived in a non-touristy part of the city and before I spoke, they assumed I was from there. In Rio they seemed to be more appreciative of my attempts. I assumed many Cariocas (people from Rio) could speak English and that doesn't seem to be the case. We wandered through Copacabana a bit more until it started to rain and we went back to the hotel...
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