Today we hit the major tourist sites in Rio. It was also the first sunny day in Rio in the past five days, and it was a Saturday, so everything was a bit crowded. However, having a guide (Eugenio) who books the 9 AM tram up to Christ the Redeemer a month in advance means no standing in line. Rio is situated in one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. There is a huge bay dotted with islands and small mountains that back up to the coast. The climate is such that any seed that falls grows like crazy, so there is greenery everywhere. There seems to be very little litter due to strict enforcement of anti-littering laws, so this seems like a pretty livable city.
They do have a drug problem, and with it comes easy money, crime, and corruption, but the areas tourists frequent are pretty safe. After we went up to the top of the mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue sits, we visited the site of Carnival parades which is a specially built stadium, and then we went to see a very unique cathedral. It is built of cement in the form of a cone with the sides constructed with louvers interspersed with stained glass. See the photos to get an idea what it looks like. I didn’t take a photo of the outside because it is ugly, but on the inside the stained glass panels glow, giving light to the interior, so it is pretty remarkable. After that we had a big lunch at a bakery that is also a restaurant. It was in a very ornate old building, so it really had character. The lunch was a buffet so we could try eating stuff we would never order like manioc flour (it tastes like dry sawdust). I didn’t think the real food was very good, but the desserts were great. Lois liked everything. After lunch we drove around the Santa Teresa neighborhood, and then took a cable car up to Sugar Loaf Mountain to get another view of the city from a different viewpoint.
Our guide, Eugenio, is sixty years old, and has been guiding for many years. He not only knows the city like the back of his hand, but his English is great because he lived in the US for a few years. Tomorrow we get a tour of a different part of the city that has six buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the architect who designed many of the public buildings in their capital, Brasilia.