Second Day in Rio

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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Hanging out in Jardim Botanico
We decided to take it easy on our second day. Someone had told us about the H. Stern jewelry company workshop tours so we decided to give it a try. H. Stern makes arrangements with many hotels in Rio to pick up and drop off guests. A driver arrived in a nice car and we headed off to H. Stern in style. The building was very swanky with a bunch of different customer service people to help you and pass you off to the next customer service person. We waited in a lobby where they had snack foods, coffee, water, and little cups of caipirinhas. I thought it was a little too early for caipirinhas. We waited for a bit and then started our tour. They give you head sets in your language that you listen to as you watch the process of jewelry being made. It reminded me of a visit many years ago to a U.
S. Mint in Phildelphia where people work while you watch them through the window. I guess you get used to it, but I think it would be so weird to have a job where tourists stare at you working all day!

After the tour, another H. Stern rep took us to a cubicle to sit us down and show us jewelry... and of course, they wanted us to buy something! That definitely explained the free caipirinhas in the lobby. Maybe with a little cachaca in your system, you'll be more willing to drop ridiculous amounts of cash on jewelry. I love jewelry, but I prefer unique inexpensive jewelry from street markets and festivals. I'm just not into big diamonds and things... I'd rather spend that money on travel! I think the rep could see how bored I was and she didn't push too hard.
That's Christ the Redeemer in the distance.
But afterwards, they make you walk through more rooms full of jewelry and they try to sell you more things. Finally, we arrived at a giftshop which was the most reasonable room in the whole building. It had much more affordable costume jewelry and many other interesting things. We bought some Brazilian coffee and a really cool looking basket. Our ride home was a lot less stylish, we shared a big van with some other tourists. I wonder if they would have driven us back in a nice car if we had made larger purchases!

After dropping off our stuff, we decided to check out the Botanical Gardens. On the way, my mom questioned our cab driver's sobriety. Sure enough, he soon rear-ended a van in front of us. Instead of stopping to exchange information, they stuck their heads out of the windows to yell at each other for a bit and then kept on driving.
Copacabana and Pao de Acucar
The driver turned around to complain to us about the van driver. I thought, "please turn around and focus on driving!" I don't know how auto insurance works in Brazil, but I guess both cars were beat up enough already that they weren't too worried about one more dent. Thankfully, we arrived at Jardim Botanico safely and without any other altercations.

As far as I know, Jardim Botanico doesn't offer tours, so you just roam around and look at the descriptions posted by the plants. Jardim Botanico is huge and they have plants, flowers, and trees from Brazil and all over the world. They also have several ponds, fountains, bridges, greenhouses and other cool structures. We wandered through for a long time, and then had lunch at the very cute Cafe Botanica. I highly recommend taking a stroll through the Botanical Gardens for a relaxing time in Rio.
In front of the sand castle


After the Gardens, I wanted to check out the famous beaches and also find the intricate sand castles and sculptures we had driven by on our tour the day before. I didn't remember if it was on Ipanema or Copacabana, so we had the cab driver drop us off in Ipanema. We walked along Ipanema until we reached a huge rock which was the end of the beach. We made our way back to the road and continued to Copacabana where we found the sand castles. When we got there, we paid 1 or 2 reais for pictures. Very cheesy, but I guess it's how they make their living. You really have to admire the detail and the work that went into making the castles and sculptures. After this, we wandered back into town to check out the shops and boutiques. Some parts of the city reminded me of the nice parts of Los Angeles.
The back of the castle


When we got back to the hotel, we got ready for dinner and a show at Plataforma. This was another activity arranged by the concierge who obviously didn't have any off the beaten path suggestions for us. I was curious to see the show at Platforma because he called it a "folklore show" and I wanted to see how it would compare the folklore ballet I had seen twice in Salvador. From the pictures, I knew it would be pretty different. A bus came to pick us up from the hotel. Everytime I got on a bus in Rio, I always thought in the back of my mind that it would get hijacked or we would get robbed at knifepoint or something.
Luckily, this didn't happen to us.

When we got there, we were subjected to yet another churrascaria/buffet meal! The pao de queijo was really good there. The waiter brought us salad and then a few seconds later, he plopped a huge sausage on our plates before we could say no. ??? I don't know why you would do that without asking. These people were going crazy with the food so we finished eating and got out of there quickly. We went to the theater to find some good seats. We were some of the first people in there, but a big portion of the front and center area was reserved for large tour groups. We found some good seats on the side and waited for the show to begin. As you're waiting, the people in the show try to get you to take pictures with them which they will try to sell you later.
Capoeira... and some guy's head
A girl went on the stage in a weird outfit and started bouncing a soccer ball for what I guess was pre-show entertainment.

Finally, the real show began. They did dances and performances from all of the different parts of Brazil. Sure enough, they had capoeira and the candomble circle dance from Bahia. It was all so gaudy, from the costumes to the actual routine. At some point, the samba drumming champions from last year's Rio carnaval came on stage in some crazy costumes. I was totally biased and ready to be unimpressed, but you can't blame me. After spending all that time in Bahia, nothing can compare to capoeira on the beach, a huge group of drummers pounding away in the streets on a warm night, and an actual authentic candomble ceremony.
"Candomble"
And the folklore show in Bahia captured all of this in a much better and simpler way.

My favorite part of the show was a guy who did a dance with ropes with balls attached to the end that he swung around and hit on the ground. It's hard to explain it, but it was cool to watch. My second favorite part of the show was when they called people up from different countries to sing folk songs from where they were from- very funny. They never called the United States for some reason, so we were saved from that. At the end, a bunch of girls came back on the stage in the huge elaborate costumes they wear for carnaval and did the final dance.
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Hanging out in Jardim Botanico
Hanging out in Jardim Botanico
Thats Christ the Redeemer in the …
That's Christ the Redeemer in the…
Copacabana and Pao de Acucar
Copacabana and Pao de Acucar
In front of the sand castle
In front of the sand castle
The back of the castle
The back of the castle
Capoeira... and some guys head
Capoeira... and some guy's head
Candomble
"Candomble"
This was really cool, not sure wha…
This was really cool, not sure wh…
Tourists singing folk songs from t…
Tourists singing folk songs from …
Elaborate Carnival costumes
Elaborate Carnival costumes
Rio de Janeiro General Tips & Advice review
Here are some suggestions on things to do in Rio based on some of the things I've done and what I've heard from other people: 1) Pao de Acucar Rio… read entire review