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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 10 February, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Marriott Hotel, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro S2258.360' W04311.113' 5 m
Touring Rio by foot, taxi, ferry, tram and bus . . . 50 km (by foot, taxi, ferry, tram and bus)
Marriott Hotel, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro S2258.360' W04311.113' 5 m 10 km (by taxi)
Sambadrome . . . 10 km (by taxi)
Finish Marriott Hotel, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro S2258.360' W04311.113' 5 m 10 km (by taxi)

Leg 2 Total:

12,085 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

21,866 km

 

Weather: Mostly cloudy, very hot and humid.

 

 

We have an early start this morning as we are going to go to church this morning.  But we do make sure that we have breakfast in the hotel first.  Lars really enjoys some of the local fruits that they make into juices.  The one that has a taste like cherries is the best.

 

We head off shortly after 9 AM and catch a taxi to Mosteiro de Sao Bento.  This church was completed in 1641 and represents one of the best examples of colonial church architecture in Brazil.  This church has a simple exterior, but a beautiful baroque interior that is richly decorated in gold.  The reason we have chosen this church is because High Mass on Sunday includes a choir of Benedictine monks singing Gregorian chants.

 

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It is a wonderful mass and includes a ringing of the church bells, incense and smoke, the spraying of holy water over the congregation, a not too lengthy sermon (on which we can provide no comment as we could not understand any of it), singing and chanting, communion and further singing.  We were glad that we went.

 

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Then we wander through the streets of Rio.  It is very quiet downtown, and many things are shut.  It is a bit of a shame, but at least we get a feel for the city.  We take a look at the main cathedral (closed even on Sunday), try to go to Isla Fiscal (closed for renovation) and the catch a ferry over to Nitroi.  We do not really want to go to Nitroi itself, but taking the ferry is a cheap and convenient way to go for a boat ride in the bay.  It is very nice and gives an overview of the bay.  At the other side, we race off the boat and buy our ticket so that we re-board the same boat back.

 

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From there we walk further into the city.  It is very quiet and deserted.  After a while, we make it to the tram stop.  There is an old tram that runs up into the exclusive neighborhood of Santa Teresa.  It is an old, open sided tram and is a joy to ride.  We can see the neighborhood as we cruise by.  Local kids would jump on and hold onto the side as we went along.  Quite often we would have to stop due to traffic jams caused by cars coming around corners or parking in the wrong spot.

 

We got off the tram half way to have lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the narrow, winding streets.  We had some delicious sushi.  Then it was back on the tram to take it to the end of the line.  Another great ride to the end, where we get off.  We are told that we would be able to catch a bus from here up to the Christ the Redeemer statute.  We wait and wait, but we start to get worried when the bus does not show up.  This does not appear to be the best of neighborhoods.  Two police cars pull up and hang out nearby for a while. We are both comforted and a little disturbed by how heavily armed the policemen are with machine guns.  Nice to see the fire power, but concerned why they should be carrying so much.  When they leave after a while, we get a bit more concerned.  We take the next available vehicle that comes our way - which turns out to be bus going back down.  Well, guess we will have to visit the statue another day.

 

The bus takes us right near the Dragoman hotel, where we get off.  We leave Paolo here, making arrangements for that evening, and catch a taxi back to our hotel.  Once there, we head to the lounge for what has become our regular evening caipirinhas.  This is the Brazilian national drink that is made out of the high-proff dirt cheap cane spirit called cachaca or pinga.  It is simply a combination of cachaca, lime, sugar and ice.  A few of these can knock you out.  After a short rest in our room, we get ready for the night's event - the Samba Parades in the Sambodromo.

 

We meet Paolo at his hotel and then head over to the Sambodromo, which is a a street that has been converted into s long stadium with tiered seating along the entire length.  The 14 top samba schools participate in the parade - they will prepare a whole year for their one hour parade down the length of the Sambodromo.  It is a competition, with each school vying to be selected by the judges as the best school of the year.  It is a huge honor.

 

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The whole thing takes all night, as each school takes over an hour to complete its march through the stadium.  In between each performance, the street is cleaned for the next one, which starts off with fireworks.  We are at the end of the stadium and it takes over half an hour before the head of the procession reaches us.

 

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It is an amazing sight seeing the thousands of people for this living organism that moves and pulsates down the street to the end of the stadium.  The colors, lights and music are fantastic.  The costumes are stunning - the colors, size and designs.  Some of the headdresses can be over 2 meters long.  Then there are the huge floats.  They are very elaborate, with wild designs, flashing lights and gyrating dancers doing the samba on whatever flat surface there is on the float.  Some breathed smoke and others fire.  There was even a guy with a jet pack that flew through the air.

 

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In between processions we would go to the part of the stand overlooking the area where they finished and re-grouped.  Some would take off their costumes and throw them to the audience.  Soon the audience was dressed just as wild and crazy as the samba dancers.

 

The whole thing goes on all night and we watch many of them, but after about 6, we decide to call it quits and head back to our hotel at about 5 AM.  Back at the hotel we turn on the TV, and it is being shown live.  It is actually nice to also see it on TV, where we can get a closed view of some of the dances, costumes and floats

 

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