22.11.2015 - 22.11.2015
I got up early in the morning in time for breakfast at 7am and being in time for pick-up at 8.25am. Hasn’t had a working air-conditioner during the entire night so I made a report at the hotel reception while I was down there for breakfast anyway. They called for the janitor who came to my room within 3 minutes. The first thing he checked was if the window was closed. I had the window opened yesterday evening but I then closed it… or well, at least I thought so. But obviously I must have missed a millimeter or two, since the air-conditioner was linked to the window and apparently didn’t work if it was opened. He opened the window and closed it again and then the air-conditioner started again. Ha ha, was it that simple, really? Well then.
Continued to get ready and later on went down to the hotel lobby in time for my pick-up at 8.25am. I waited and waited and ogled the watch more and more irritated. All other hotel guests waiting in the hotel lobby had been picked-up by now except from me. During that time I had built up anger inside at the same time I started to get nervous they had forgotten me. Then I suddenly remembered something that Peter, my first transfer driver in Manaus, had said; “it’s more of a rule that Brazilians are late to an appointment or meeting and that by 30 minutes or more”. So I convinced myself not to worry and that they hadn’t forgotten me. Eventually a short-grown lady by the name Maria picked me up. We walked outside to a full-sized bus and she told me we would be 44 people in the group today. The bus driver drove along Copacabana’s beach towards Sugar Loaf Mountain. Most of the streets in the Copacabana district are one-ways. They can be one-way in one direction in the morning, switch to the other direction during the day and get back to the other one-way direction in the afternoon. So confusing! But it has to do with traffic and ease the traffic flow during rush-hours in Rio de Janeiro.
Copacabana Palace is a *****-star hotel built in 1923. It was the first and only hotel on Copacabana Beach until 1945. The hotel is easily recognized by its magnificent facade and distinguishes from surrounding hotels. Even Princess Isabella, who freed the slaves, has gotten a street with her name – Isabella Avenue. The bus made several stops by hotels along Copacabana’s beach and I got a nice surprise when a group of people also from Sweden embarked the bus. So nice to talk Swedish again.
The heat hit us when we disembarked the bus at Praia Vermelha to collect our cable car tickets. After being on a comfortable bus and a well working air conditioner you almost got shocked. The sun burned and the short matter of time we had to wait outside in the sun almost became a hassle. We rode the cable car up to the first top, Morro da Urca at 220 altitude meters. Maria had clearly told us that we wouldn’t have time to stop for pictures here now during our ride up, but continuing on with the next cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain. Said and done.
We walked through the woods where trees with Jackfruit grew. Every fruit weights about 15-40 kg and smelled very weird. You really don’t want that kind of big fruit hitting in your head. We disembarked the cable car up at Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúgar) at the impressive altitude of 396 meters. Sugar Loaf Mountain consists of granite and quarts like many other surrounding hills and mountains nearby.
The view from up here was pretty impressive, partly over Copacabana beach but also the Guanabara Bay, where several water events during the Summer Olympic Games will be held in 2016. We got half an hour to walk around for photos.
Up here were also a souvenir shop, an exclusive glass figure shop with soaring prizes (even though the figures were very well done it was pure rubbery) and minor snack bar with hotdogs, candy and of course bottled water for sale. When we were about to gather again Maria had a busy time gathering us all 44 people but managed to get us all down back to Morro de Urca again. Now we got some time for photos. Here they displayed the very first cable car.
Right next to it was another cable car that had been used by Roger Moore in one of the Bond movies. When Maria gathered us all again 2 people in the group wanted to stay longer. But since Maria had a time schedule to follow the rest of us had to leave Morro de Urca without these two people.
How Rio de Janeiro did have its name? In year 1500 the first Portuguese arrived in Brazil and started to conquer. Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1502 and its name came up due to heavy fog so they thought they had arrived at a river (Rio), and not an ocean. That was in January (Janeiro) 1502, as the name of Rio de Janeiro occurred. One of the first things you think about when hearing Rio de Janeiro, is the annual carnival that is always being held 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. To participate you need to be older than 8 years old and the original purpose was for the Samba schools to compete against each other. The parade has been held since 1984 at the Sambodrome to gather audience and to sell tickets. Some Samba schools take their carnival train out to Rio’s street festivals to spread their message in the whole town.
On the way back the bus stopped at the Sambodrome, but we weren’t allowed to disembark the bus due to the troubled neighborhood. But we managed to take some photos from inside the bus.
The bus continued to drive back towards Copacabana and made a quick stop at a catholic cathedral, Metropolitan Cathedral, which is shaped like a pyramid. It was beautiful inside with big colored glass windows that literarily reached from the floor all the way up to the top of the pyramid. The cathedral is dedicated to Sankt Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro and the seat of the Archbishop.
Each Sunday a Hippie Market is being held at Praça General Osório and has been so since 1968. Over 700 market stalls are set up and people sell souvenirs, food, jewelries, handy craft and clothes among other things. A fun element in a vibrant city, which attracts many tourists. I can tell you that it wasn’t just regular cigarettes that were smoked there.
Back in Copacabana and its beach later that afternoon. At 5pm a joyful carnival-dressed-up crowd of people gathered and formed a small parade. They danced to the grand and loud music along the entire Copacabana Beach. Nice finish for the day.