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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Brazil - 11 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
Corcovado Mountain, Tijuca National Park . . 710 m .
Marriott Hotel, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro S2258.360' W04311.113' 5 m 25 km (by taxi)
Ipanema . . . .
Finish Marriott Hotel, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro S2258.360' W04311.113' 5 m 10 km (by taxi)

Leg 2 Total:

12,120 km

Leg 1 Total:

9,010 km

Galapagos:

771 km

Grand Total:

21,901 km

 

Weather: Mostly clear, sunny, very hot and humid.

 

 

Today is mostly a sightseeing day.  We need to get up at around 10 AM as we have to head into Lapa to go to the Dragoman hotel for the joining meeting for the next leg of the trip up north to Caracas.  The meeting takes place at 11:30 AM and we are happy that we went (we did not really have to go).  We met our new drivers - Flip, the leader, and Mike, the co-driver - along with most of the rest of the group.  Flip and Mike impress us with their approach.  They are very informative, tell us what to expect and lay out a few basic ground rules for the trip.

 

After the meeting, Paolo joins us and we hire a taxi to take us up to Corcovado mountain in Tijuca National Park where the Cristo Redentor ("Christ the Redeemer") statue is.  Tijuca contains the last remaining piece (120 square km) of the Atlantic rainforest that used to surround Rio.  The statue itself has come to symbolise Rio itself.  It was built entirely with private funds.  We agree with the taxi to take us up there, wait for us and then take us back down again.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Corcovado08_Statue_C387_Web.jpg (82330 bytes)

At first the drive is fast - it is Sunday and the streets are deserted - but once we get partway up the access road that winds up the mountain, we have bumper to bumper traffic.  It is stop and go all the way to the top.  After about one and a half hours we make it to the summit of the mountain and the base of the statue.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Corcovado05_View_C384_Web.jpg (87486 bytes)

We wander up to the statue and the panoramic views from the top are stunning.  Rio lays before us in all her glory.  We can see north to the Zona Norte (mostly slums), straight down to the main city and across the bay to Nitroi and then south to the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.  It takes us some time to just take in the views.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Corcovado03_Statue_C382_Web.jpg (69445 bytes)

Then our gaze shifts skyward as we try to take in the massive statue of Christ with his arms outstretched - over 30 meters high and weighing over 1,000 tons.  The statue was first planned to be completed in 1922, but was not finally in place until 1931.  You can just stand below it and gaze up at it, mesmerised, for a long time.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Corcovado09_Statue_Jac_C388_Web.jpg (78511 bytes)

One last look at the city of Rio below and a final glance up at the statue, and we head back to the taxi for our ride down.  This time it is much fasted - not much traffic.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Coca01_View_C394_Web.jpg (102957 bytes)

We ask him to take us back to the hotel, where we immediately head up to the lounge for a nice, cold refreshing drink.  We also take the opportunity to check out through the telescope some of the action on the beach below us.  It is a beautiful beach - wide and long as it forms a gentle arc between the rocky hills at each end.

 

Brazil02_Rio4_Coca03_Beach_Jac_C396_Web.jpg (75396 bytes)

Once refreshed, we decide to spend the rest of the afternoon taking it easy on the famous each at our doorstep.  We change and gather up our stuff and head down and out.  Marriott has a small spot on the beach with an attendant, umbrellas and reclining chairs, where we drop off our stuff and go for a stroll on the beach.  It is Carnival and a holiday and the beach is packed.  It is fun to just wander amongst the locals as they go about their beach activities.  People from Rio (known as "Cariocas") center their lives on the beach.  You do not ask the question whether they go to the beach, you ask then when they go to the beach.

 

Their swimsuits are skimpy.  We see many of the famous floss bikinis being used (even on people who should not be wearing them).  It is amazing how little material they can use to cover their bodies, while still keeping those certain spots hidden.  For all practical purposes, they may has not be wearing anything on the bum.  Lars, of course, only had eyes for Jacqui and did not notice any of this - this is only what he has heard.

 

People are on the beach, in the surf and in the water.  They seem to be constantly running from one to the other.  Others are just going for a stroll or playing games on the water's edge.  Numerous vendors trudge up and down the beach selling their wares - sunscreen (for the white foreigners who do not know how hot the sun can get), drinks, ice cream (eat it fast in this heat), snacks, sunglasses, sorongs, and many other sundry items.  It is a wonderful scene.

 

We then head back to our little section of the each and lay in the sand for a short nap (Lars sleeps with one eye open just to watch our stuff - not to check out any passing women).  We head back to the hotel just in time for our evening cocktails in the lounge.  We have a long chat with our new friends who work in the lounge.  We tell them that we will be going to the Gay Ball at Scala tomorrow and in the end we ask them to come with us.  They like the idea and agree to come.

 

At around 11 PM, after taking a short nap in our room, we head out on to the main drag along the beach.  This time we turn left, and head south.  As we walk along we check out the many stalls selling the usual tourist stuff.  We continue to look for the costume for Lars fro tomorrow night.  In the end, we have to give up.  We are trying to find one of those beaded bikinis for him to wear to the Gay Ball, but not are big enough to fit.  Lars is both disappointed and relieved.

 

We reach the Copacabana Palace- the grand old lady of luxury hotels on Copacabana Beach.  Built in 1924, it became the exotic destination for Hollywood celebrities and the international high society.  Guests included Lana Turner, Eva Peron, Ali Khan and even Orson Wells.  The latter partied hard here in 1942, throwing furniture out of the window in a jealous rage.  We just went there for dinner.  And what a nice dinner we had.  After dinner, as we were passing through reception, we could see some of the guests all dressed up in Carnival outfits ready to go out to their balls.  Some were very skimpy.

 

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