River of January?

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
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122
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Trip End May 02, 2013


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Where I stayed
Alexandre's Apartment

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our three hour flight was actually only two hours in the air, because unbeknownst to us we had a stopover en route to Rio. Still, we touched down earlier than expected.

We picked up a map and guidebook, then caught a shuttle bus.  The driver was hell-bent on jarring our bodies so much that by the time we got dropped off it felt like our internal organs had been rearranged.  There were no set stops so we had to keep our eyes open in the fading daylight.
We were also surprised and disappointed that the sun was setting so early.  It disappeared completely as we disembarked so a walk to the beach was out of the question.

We laboured up the streets of Ipanema in search of our place, but the address was incorrect.  We must have looked lost and like easy targets, but luckily Alexandre's friendly face spotted us first.  He dangled the keys from his chair on the sidewalk and we knew we were in the right place.

He took us up to the apartment, gave us a few local tips and said goodbye.  The space was just what we needed for a few days in the big beach city.  We quickly settled and went out for dinner.

We decided to splurge almost immediately and dove into a Brazilian barbecue restaurant.  The fixed price included all-you-can-eat meat of endless variety, but the red wine was extra.  Jason ate almost nothing but meat, including several different cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork, turkey and finally sea bass.  Back at the apartment, Jason passed out but Sylvia stayed up researching.

She picked up where she left off the next morning.  Three hours after waking we were on the road, trying to flag down a local bus.  We weren't in the right spot, locals pointed us toward it and we eventually figured it out.

After another gun it and hit the brakes thrill ride we arrived at the Corcovado tram station.  We paid the price for expensive isolated tourist food while waiting an hour for the next available trip up the mountain.

Christ The Redeemer stood tall at the acme, watching over the city of god from high above.  The views, although tinged with an urban haze, were still spectacular.  Sharp tooth-like rocky peaks jutted out of the ocean, separating splendid beaches.

We descended back down to ground (and sea) level and hopped on another bus.  Although not our intended destination, Botafogo beach was a nice stop en route.  A huge sculpture of a woman's head rose from the water in the protected bay full of boats.

The next bus took us to Pao De Acucar (Sugar Loaf), an impossible looking tall slim mound of rock pointing straight out of the water to the sky above.  Connected to the ground by cable cars, gondolas or aerial trams (pick the name you prefer) and a secondary peak, it is the ideal location to watch the sunset over the beaches, city and mountains to the west.  We also spotted a few strange little creatures with wispy ear fur and bushy tails.  The sun slowly slipped away, allowing ample photographic opportunities.

Four harrowing bus journeys, two slow tram trips and four cable car rides later we arrived back at the apartment exhausted.

The following day we decided to experience a true vacation day for once.  It started on the beach in Ipanema.  We found a clear spot on the soft white sand and parked ourselves there.  Jason braved the chilly water while Sylvia let it lap against her lower legs.

We strolled down to the low rocky outcrops at the east end for beautiful views of the whole beach and breaking waves over the other side.

Then we headed toward Copacabana Beach but paused for a huge yet economical lunch.  The highly acclaimed crescent-shaped arc of sand was nice but perhaps better appreciated from further away or high above.  After another warm and welcome sunbathing session we returned to Ipanema Beach in time to share a caipirinha on the sand while watching the sun set over the mountains again.

On the final day we both had 'The Girl From Ipanema' in our heads as we waltzed down to the beach street and waited for the airport shuttle.  In the morning rush hour, traffic was only going one way on both sides of the street so each of us had to watch one side to flag down the bus.

The median Jason waited on was only as wide as his backpack.  All types of vehicles sped by on one side while cyclists and runners didn't give any ground on the other either.  Luckily the driver was a bit calmer that time so we had a more relaxing, if slightly longer, ride to catch our plane headed for home again.
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