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  • Writer's picturePaula Cooper

14 November Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Hazy Humid Hilly High Hot

Great breakfast, (fruits, Italian cheeses, pastries and everything else you can think of!) followed by timely pickup for aerial views of Rio tour.

Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos en route to Asia in 1502, claimed the river delta for Portugal, as he landed in January naming the place imaginatively January river; in fact he’d reached the South American bay with its many islands and lagoons! Before then the region was inhabited by the Tupi, Puri, Botocudo, and Maxakalí indigenous peoples.

The Portuguese reigned over the colony. During the Napoleonic wars in 1807 the Portuguese royal family, led by King Dom Pedro IV, even fled to Rio; the entire court taking residence for 13 years. Returning to Portugal the king handed over regency to his son, who promptly sided with the Brazilians declaring independence in 1822. A reputed womaniser his more popular daughter Princess Isabel of Bragança signed an Imperial Law in 1888, containing just 18 words to abolish slavery and quell discontent.

A Mecca for immigrants, historically mainly Portuguese Italians & Spanish came, latterly Germans Japanese Poles Lebanese Syrians Lithuanians Ukrainians and Turks, now joined by Africans and their local S American neighbours. In contrast to Argentina the population is mixed with over 50% darker skinned.

Parking up a side street, hard to see where the main city ends and the flavela begins, we walked back to the furnicular catching the train to Chist the redeemer. Lecture on safety duly noted; strange the ‘no queuing’ barging to the front.  I can’t believe there were escalators and lifts at the top! Why? For large  wheelchair using cruise line passengers installed in 2003, who pay handsomely to visit apparently. I hope local disabled benefit too.

Fantastic hazy misty views; the bay, beaches, lakes of the city, carpeted below. Sited on a reclaimed jungle clad hill over looking Rio, the statue, made from soapstone and concrete, was ideated in 1922 by priest Pedro Mario.

Driving through the military district the  Portuguese influence obvious in the architecture and paving, we parked alongside the harbour, heading to take the cable cars to Pão de Açúcar.

Even better, (sadly still very hazy) views of the city from the various platforms! Including walking past more jackfruit trees imported from Asia by the Portuguese, who also brought pigeons for the city's plazas.

We could see Cobacabana beach clearly layed out, even our hotel. It was very hot and humid despite the breeze; felt like the ME as a child. The air conditioned transport really welcome after.

In the afternoon we grabbed our complementary towels and headed over to our complementary chairs and umbrella. Dodging traffic an art form, a real experience reminiscent of Cairo, green lights help but stopped traffic essential; we ended up just following a local! Very hot, advised to take little we left phones etc at the hotel.

So glad of Atlantic rollers in our youth! Frequently swept off our feet we amusingly floundered jumping in the waves. I never seemed to avoid being tumbled deposited head first in the shallows!

Soon dry after a second even more unsuccessful attempted at swimming, we headed for the pool. Very warm, very crowded with a stunning view. Age, sand, bathroom, more sand, uncomfortable, I begged a shower. I still loathe a sandy costume! It took 3 shampoos to get the sand out my hair.

Again heeding advice, travelling light we walked the beaches for dinner. Seeing the life guards rescuing swimmers in the surf. Our outside table turned out to be roadside, blustery and in danger of being rained on, so we accepted a transfer inside. Not sure I choose wisely but Simon sampled the local cocktail and farofa; made from toasted cassava.

A thoroughly enjoyable but hot day; thankfully we had an air conditioned room to retire to.

Early morning from the 12th floor?

(Birds ? No early morning borders! And they're swallowed by the mist! And then the suns almost up)

Visit to Cristo Redentor

( Furnicular stop; Christ the Redeemer; cleaner; fellow visitor!)

Hazy Views from Cristo Redentor

Harbour on way to Pão de Açúcar

(Harbour; streets near navy & roundabout; random hillside flavela)

Visit to Pão de Açúcar

(Sugar loaf; cablecar map; jackfruit; inside cable car; cable cars; first cable car station)

Views from Pão de Açúcar

(The long beach is Cobacabana)

At dinner famous Brazilian cocktail

Simon's photos to follow or replace mine!

We stayed at Miramar hotel, Cabacabana, Brazil

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