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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Trip Journal

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February 27, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Arrival in Rio de Janeiro was right on time – around 8am.

Rio is the second largest city in Brazil and is best known for its Carnaval celebrations, the samba and Bossa Nova dances, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf mountain – to name just a few. Rio will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first South American city to claim that honor.

As soon as the local authorities had cleared the ship for disembarkation, we checked in for our ship’s excursion and headed out to find our bus.

The excursion consisted of visiting Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statute, Sugarloaf Mountain, a typical Brazilian lunch and Leblon, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

We were impressed with our tour guide. She was very friendly, knowledgeable (of course) about Rio and Brazil, and interesting. She was also efficient.

When we arrived at Corcovado Mountain to take a cog railway to the top, 2,330 feet above sea level, one of the people who works with our guide, met the bus and handed her the train tickets. That saved a lot of time so we didn’t have to stand in long lines and wait.

The ride to the top of the mountain took about 25 minutes – there were some breathtaking views along the way.

The area at the top of the mountain, offered a restaurant, clean restrooms, multiple souvenir stores and of course, the Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s considered to be the largest art deco statue in the world – it stands 130 feet tall, which includes a 31 foot pedestal. It’s 98 feet wide and weighs 635 tons. It’s made of reinforced concrete and soapstone. It took nine years to construct – from 1922 to 1931.

Brazil has the largest population of Catholics in the world and the statue is a very important symbol of that religion.

In February of 2008, the statue was struck by lightning during an electrical storm. Fortunately, it was unharmed due to soapstone being an insulator.

After spending some time here, we returned to our bus and headed for Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). Again, our guide was met by one of her associates who had obtained our cable car tickets in advance. The cable car rides are in two segments – mid-point and at the top of the mountain which is about 1,300 feet above sea level. The cable cars were just replaced last year by new Swiss cars and cabling – prior to that they were Italian manufactured.

In spite of clouds and mist, the views were spectacular. We could see the beaches, much of the city, their huge soccer stadium, the bay with islands and of course, the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Off to lunch – a typical Brazilian lunch consists mostly of meat. However, the first course was a visit to the salad bar, which had a wide variety of offerings – from cheeses to sushi and everything in between. The servers then came around to the tables offering slices of roast beef, lamb, ham, chicken, sausages. I doubt anyone went away hungry. All reports were that the food was excellent.

Visiting the legendry beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema was fun – lots of young people playing volleyball, other people building sandcastles, drinking coconut drinks out of the shells, vendors selling colorful scarves, balls, towels. All in all a big contract in colors.

One thing of note was the huge waves crashing onto the beach. Our guide said she had never seen them that big in the 40+ years she has lived in Rio. They were much too dangerous for surfing.

We passed by a lagoon on our way back to the ship, where city workers were busily scooping small dead fish out of the water --- there were thousands of them. The guide said they were baby tilapia and the cause of their demise was due to lack of oxygen in the water.

Driving through the city, we could see workers taking down the grandstands from the Carnaval celebration. From what our guide told us, the parades are spectacular. The parades start at 9pm and finish the next morning at 7am. Each parade is required to have 2,500 participants and they are allotted 1.5 hours. Carnaval would certainly be something to see.

When Carnaval first began in Brazil, it was celebrated by throwing water, mud and flour at people. That type of “celebration” was banned in the 19th century. The Carnaval that Rio is best known for today began in the 1930’s.

We enjoyed catching up with our tablemates at dinner – except for Marilyn and Tom – who had gone into Rio for a dinner and samba show.

We have a lot of things planned for tomorrow. We will be leaving early in the morning as everyone must be back on board by 2:30.

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About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.