3.5 days in Rio

Reply

Oct 5th, 2017, 11:34 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
3.5 days in Rio

My trip report is slow in coming--so much piled up while I was gone. But I hope to get this up before I forget the details.

I had 3.5 days over Brazil's National Day to visit Rio for the first time before heading to Sao Paulo for a conference. The travel down was stressful due to the approaching hurricane and the inability of airline agents to reroute me successfully to avoid MIA. I made it through on the last night the flight took off. On the return, I called and rerouted successfully through DFW because my return flight had only made it out 1 day and was 6 hours late. Then the computer rebooked me through MIA because of a delay. I spent hours again trying to connect with a human and eventually rebooked again through DFW delayed, then my original flight took off on time via MIA. My time in Rio was much less stressful.

I'm more of an outdoors person than a city person, but I like architecture, history, and learning about local cultures, so Rio sounded interesting. I am female traveling alone and don't speak Portuguese--little Spanish. I thought I would visit the top easy sites via taxi or on standard group tours and hire a private guide for some more personalized touring for a day or two, but after emailing with 3-4 guides, discussing options, etc. I decided to hire a private guide with airport pickup/dropoff included for a very reasonable price. It was a great decision. I can't say enough about how great Meilin Mares Guia turismares.com.br was. She is a multilingual (I think English, Portuguese, Spanish, French) Rio native who became a tour guide 10 years ago, She knows the city, the history, the culture, the traffic and she plays percussion for samba. She was professional, reliable, flexible enough to adapt and change my itinerary when new ideas arose, and good company. I strongly recommend her for individuals, families, and groups. I know she prefers families so she has a chance to get to know the people and tailor activities to their interests, which isn't always possible with a large, diverse group.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 11:43 AM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
I saw the usual top sites--

8:40am train to Christ the Redeemer. The expected mob of people taking selfies as well as lying down on the ground to get the shot of friends before the statue. The crowd was a solid mass, but politely waiting and taking turns to look at the view or the statue.
Train ride views OK. Nice overview of city, though hazy that morning.

Another morning up Sugarloaf. Great views again with people much more dispersed, so more pleasant. We walked the green trails below the top of the mountain, but no monkeys around. I saw many people walking up the trail, but it was a hot day so I didn't envy them.

We lucked into parking next to the train station, but had to drive around to find a street space near Sugarloaf. We walked through a nice residential neighborhood. There were fellows trying to guide us to parking spaces on the street for a fee--reminded me of the fellows drivers pay to "watch" their cars in South Africa.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 12:05 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
I agreed to a walking tour of downtown + wharfs + Valongo wharf site and enjoyed it. Disclaimer--I told the guide to limit the number of churches; otherwise I think those could fill the day. I walked 8 or 10 miles that day, though some of that was along the beaches.

Some of the places we visited that I enjoyed the most--Metropolitan cathedral (stained glass and design), Sao Francisco da Penitència Church (blinding gold) and museum with historical renderings of the early city, Boulevard Olimpico with Kobra murals. Valongo site is an archeological dig, so not a lot to "see" except the stones, but interesting history.

OK that we popped in--National library, Real Gabinete Portugues Da Leitura library. We saw another church or two (too many for me), walked through some shopping areas (I wasn't shopping), and down to ferry area. We stopped by the famed Confeitaria Colombo, but there was a long line, so I opted to pass.

When we finished the tour with the tram at Cinelândia Square, I wanted to see if I could catch a tour of the Municipal Theater. Meilin went with me to find there was a tour starting in 10 minutes in Portuguese. OK with me--I just wanted to see the interior. But she decided to stay and go on the tour with me just because she loves the building. Great lobby/public areas.

Meilin had trained me on the Metro, so I rode to my Ipanema hotel on my own.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 12:28 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
We visited two places to the north at my request.
São Cristóvão fair and Mangueira samba school.

I wasn't sure about the "fair". The live music, arts and crafts from the North sounded good. The reviews that said flea market sounded bad. Meilin said let's go for lunch and we did. Turns out that eating is the reason Brazilians go. There are many small stalls selling similar souvenirs, household goods, and foodstuffs, but there are many, many restaurants and two stages with live music. I didn't find anything of interest in the stalls. We ate at a buffet restaurant (we did so another day too) so I could sample different foods. That was good. We stood and listened to the live music for a while. Music was fun, but the sun was brutal so everyone huddled under coverings at the edge of the open space. Most interesting was coming across an older woman belting out "classics" in a small opening while her assistant sold her CD. So, OK place to lunch and then hang out with music.

Meilin told me about the samba school and I asked to go there instead of planned ferry to Paquetá Island with walk.
We parked the car at a shopping mall, then took a taxi (not the safest neighborhood), arriving just before they opened at 1pm. I had no idea what to expect and decided just to go with the flow.

We bought tickets for entry + lunch through a hole carved in the wall (to protect the ticket sellers?), stood in line to let guard check bags, then entered an open area with tables and chairs set up where we again had to pay if we wanted to sit instead of stand. Lunch was set up on a side table where we took disposable plates and stood in line for the servers to dish up whatever came (they kept running out of food). Nothing fancy for sure. Soon the live music started.

Meilin said the music would continue through the day and night. In the evening, bands would play the candidate music selections for the 2018 Carnival and the crowd would vote which selection the school should use. School supporters sported t-shirts, bought hats and other clothing, drank, and danced. We left after a few hours, so I didn't get to hear the results, but I will have to look for them online or on television during Carnival.

A great experience.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 12:35 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
Some places we visited that were not highlights for me--

The botanic garden. Nice green space, but not as impressive as other botanic gardens I have visited.

Hippie fair. OK for some shopping.

Selaron steps. Interesting story. I sort of wish he had stuck to his original plan rather than adding tiles people sent to him. Lines of people waiting to have their photo made in just the right place.

Santa Teresa neighborhood. On Saturday afternoon, only a few shops open here and there. Some nice original art work in those open. Maybe it's more of a nighttime restaurant/bar scene?
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 12:43 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
Beaches--you can't go to Rio without going to the beach, can you?

My time in Rio stretched from National Day through the weekend. The beaches were packed! Sunbathing, eating, playing sports, surfing, wading, walking, rollerblading, cycling. At 4pm or so, masses streamed to the Metro and packed the cars with people, coolers, and open cups of beer.

Copacabana is definitely wider with more flat area, so more people, more restaurants, more sand sculptures. Ipanema felt more intimate (if possible with thousands of people). I didn't make it down to Leblon. I only walked along the beaches and took photos, so can't comment on beach experience. Some nice live music at some restaurants on Copacabana. My taste in beaches tends toward the white expanses of the Florida Gulf Coast and more private/quiet settings than Rio.

Best experience was a band playing on the street at the end of Copacabana attracting a crowd of dancers.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 12:53 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
I stayed at the Mar Ipanema, a basic tourist class hotel on a busy corner 2 blocks off the beach. Busy shopping street meant people walking at least until 8pm, so I could go the grocery or restaurant. Also meant traffic noise. I would recommend the neighborhood, but not the specific hotel.

I could walk to the beaches and to the Metro. I walked alone, but was careful always to stay on streets with other people. A couple of times I turned around or turned off my intended route in Ipanema through Copacabana when I didn't see anyone else on the street. I always stepped into a grocery to check my map (paper or phone). I don't wear expensive clothes, jewelry, phone, or camera. I usually carried a messenger bag that contained my wallet, phone, water, tourist info, etc. I left my passport, extra credit cards and cash in my hotel room safe. I carry a copy of my passport photo page and my drivers license for ID (senior discount at Sugarloaf).

Everyone I interacted with on the Metro, at the grocery, and at tourist sites was polite. A woman saw me studying the map on the Metro as we headed to our downtown walking tour and asked me in English if I needed help. Meilin explained she was my guide. The lady told me that she spent a year in the US in high school.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2017, 01:51 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,419
Sounds like a nice visit.
Which samba school rehearsal did you go to?
SambaChula is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2017, 06:33 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
Mangueira--saw the 2016 trophy on display.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2017, 06:43 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
I see someone is topping old posts about ATMs--my experience in Rio and Sao Paulo:

Definitely limits apply. It was different at different machines (all during day/evening), so I can't attribute to my bank--about R$1000-1300. I didn't have difficulty with machines in bank lobbies. I did encounter difficulties with one of the exchange ATMs at the Rio Santo Dumont airport. I usually avoid those, but I was low on cash getting on a plane and would be using a taxi at the other end. Despite selecting English, when problem arose, the machine showed explanation in Portuguese. No money or receipt came out, but the transaction posted on my account, so I have disputed with my bank and they are investigating.

Around sunset, some people lie down for the night around the doors of ATM lobbies in Rio Ipanema, so I avoided after dark.

In Sao Paulo I encountered a bank where one had to put cell phone etc. in a cup on revolving door to enter (metal detector). There were also lockers next to the door for larger bags. I balled up the entry process not knowing what to do until the guard called up an English-speaking clerk to give me instructions. Once inside, he guided me to certain ATMs to use with my foreign card.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2017, 02:09 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,419
Here's a bit more info on Mangueira samba school, whose colors are green and pink. http://www.mangueira.com.br/
and its plans and activities for Carnaval 2018:

Mangueira announced its theme for Carnival 2018. "With money or without money, I play." is a criticism of the city of Rio, one that shows that the people will play (have a good time) despite the city’s attempt to curtail the carnival by cutting finances for it in half.
The Mangueira Sambodromo parade will be developed by the ‘carnivalesco’ (carnival designer) Leandro Vieira, who explained that the theme "With money or without money, I play!" is an excerpt from the "Eu brinco” (I play) Carnaval march of 1944, a time when Carnival "was threatened by a spirit of sadness." According to the press of the time, the carnival festivities of 1944 were threatened due to the financial restrictions associated with the economic crisis that the country was experiencing. "It is a very direct response to the mayor (of Rio, and the financial crisis) and points to the festive, revolutionary character of Carnival," said the artist.

(synopsis of the theme song
This samba is for you who live to speak, to criticize
Wanting to be snobbish, wanting to do away with our popular culture (...)
There is no frontier to impede us
You don’t samba, but you have to applaud. "
SambaChula is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 7th, 2017, 07:03 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 112
Thanks for the trip report! I think we might have similar tastes. I lived in Rio when I was a kid and went to Confeitaria Colombo several times - I remember it being a treat but funny to me that it's such a 'site' now. One of my favorite activities when visiting in recent years was also attending the samba school practice - we visited Salgueiro, definitely a highlight of our trip.
Fishnlines29 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 8th, 2017, 02:09 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,636
The financial situation in Rio state is bad. College professors not being paid at one university, for example. My colleagues in Sao Paulo said their state is not nearly in as bad shape. Corruption and recession have taken their toll.
Kay2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 8th, 2017, 02:59 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,419
And all the spending on the Olympics. And money for police during that period to give the illusion of safety.
SambaChula is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:56 AM.