Rio’s hot and sweaty, but beautiful too: Days 7 & 8 in Brazil

17 Feb

Today’s featured video comes to you from atop a rock outcropping at the east end of Ipanema Beach. It’s the place to be for sunset, and Saturday night was no exception. It wasn’t the most amazing sunset given the clouds, but it was still enough of an experience that everyone joined in a round of applause at the end of it:

But lets rewind to the Saturday morning and recap the events of the weekend:

1) I wandered through the Copacabana neighborhood and along the famous boardwalk. I’m glad I chose to stay in Ipanema because it’s got a better mix of trendiness and beauty.

2) I took the subway to the center of the city where I intended to see the more artsy and bohemiam neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Tereza. Unfortunately, the combination of scary-looking street urchins and stifling heat, plus hillclimbs, sent me scurrying into a slightly more safe area called Gloria. There, I admit, I broke down and had lunch at a McDonald’s, mostly because it had both air-conditioning and a bathroom I could use. See, I really had no choice.

3) From Gloria, I took a bus to the Botanical Garden. The sight was only meh, so let me talk about the buses instead — they’re awesome! From just about any bus stop, if you wait long enough (and usually not long at all), one will come along that’s going to whatever part of the city you want to go. You get on and pay the cashier who sits behind the driver — and she gives change. One tip though: they won’t actually stop unless you flag them down. Oh and some are air-conditioned and some are not. Random, I guess.

4) Sunday morning I caught a bus to Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the must-see sights here. You take two sections of cable car to get to the 1,200-foot summit. Anybody always picture the cable snapping? I do every time. It was pretty hazy so my pictures didn’t turn out that great (see below). I was hoping for a break from the heat because of the higher elevation, but no such luck. I think I saw old people passing out.

5) After returning to Ipanema by bus and eating leftover pizza for lunch, I decided my earlier vow not to go swimming at the beach with 10 million people and instead wait until the next part of my trip for that – well, that was just plain dumb. I went down to Ipanema Beach, found a one-square-foot section of sand in between the masses to leave my sandals, and hit the surf. And oh man was it awesome – the water was the perfect temperature to cool you off (78 F according to one site) and every once in a while a bigger-than-usual wave gave you a rush as you had to decide: Do I merely bounce up with the swell and let it roll by, or will it break before it hits me? When one of these larger waves rolled down the beach, you could hear a succession of gleeful screams. The only reason I left was because my sunscreen was wearing off.

Tonight I’m off to the nearby pay-by-the-kilo buffet. I had it Friday night and it was great. These types of places are very popular here. About one pound of dinner Friday night set me back 25 reals, or $12.50. Tip and beers took it to $24, but that was still a great deal.

Up next: Up early Monday to try and beat both the crowds and the heat at Rio’s No. 1 attraction, Cocovado (Christ the Redeemer statue). Oh you can be sure I’ll be hitting the water again in the afternoon.

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Liked this view near the botanical garden.

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The sunset scene at Ipanema.

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My fav pic of the whole trip so far: dusk sets in at Ipanema.

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The view from Sugarloaf Mountain.

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And the cable car at Sugarloaf.

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The masss at Copacabana Beach on a hot and hazy Sunday.

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