September 24

I am writing this from the Houston airport waiting for my connecting flight to Brazil. I'm very excited!
I arrive on the morning of the 25th and will be in Rio for seven nights. That's a good chunk of time but it's also one of those cities where you're never really done. Oh goodie goodie.

This is the whole itinerary - Rio-Asuncion-Iguzu-a quick few nights in Buenos Aires to check things out-Montevideo-back to Buenos Aires for the last two weeks. ((I added an extra week in Uruguay for an extended mosey through the countryside.))
September 25

I flew down to Brazil in relative luxury since for both flights the middle seat was empty. Oh JOY. We arrived on time, I had a totally delightful uber ride to town, and by late morning was settled into my hotel.

My goals for the day were to get money, get a map, and get orientated. I spent so much time looking for and failing to find a map that I did get a little orientated to my neighborhood.
My hotel is on the right where it says Hotel, in the Lapa district of Central Rio de Janeiro.

Lapa according to Lonely Planet: "On the southwestern edge of Centro, Lapa is a ramshackle neighborhood that's also the epicenter of Rio's nightlife, with dozens of samba-filled bars and clubs, and late-night street parties. Uphill from Lapa, Santa Teresa is a picturesque neighborhood of winding streets and old mansions that have been restored by the many artists and bohemian characters who have settled there."

How did I end up here? Night life and hill climbing? Still I'm very happy with the neighborhood if the first day says anything.
My park, Praça PASSEIO PUBLICO, just across the street from the hotel.
More of the park. It's a full block and according to wiki, built after 1779, it is the oldest public park in Brazil and one of the oldest in the Americas.

Old as it is it has fallen into disrepair and been renovated many times in its long life.
Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, "built in the beginning of the twentieth century, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful and important theatres in the country.

"The building is designed in an eclectic style, inspired by the Paris Opéra of Charles Garnier. The outside walls are inscribed with the names of classic Eurocentric & Brazilian artists. It is located near the National Library and the National Fine Arts Museum, overlooking the spacious Cinelândia Square."
Caixa Cultural Center, and there on the front steps...
...these guys were having a rally but I had no idea of the topic.

The presidential election is coming up in less than two weeks but unfortunately I'll miss it. According to my airport uber driver there has been a centrist president for the last year and a half but there is a candidate with the same polemical style as Trump running and he has some chance of winning much to the dismay of everyone not of the far right persuasion.
Coxinha, of course I have to have one of these. It's pronounced ko-she-nyha.

"The coxinha is based on dough made with wheat flour and chicken broth and optionally mashed potato, which is filled with shredded spiced chicken meat, or a whole chicken thigh. The filling consists of chicken, and onions, parsley and scallions, and occasionally tomato sauce, turmeric and catupiry cheese. The coxinha is coated in batter, then in bread crumbs or manioc flour and deep fried. The dough used to coat the filling is generally prepared with the broth of the chicken, enhancing the flavor of the coating."

I bought the smallest quantity, two, I ate one and it was crunchy and chewy and interesting. I gave the second one to a panhandler on the street who did not seem pleased.
Carioca Aqueduct and also called Arcos da Lapa built in the mid-1700s to bring drinking water to the city. There's a tram that runs on top of the aqueduct that goes up to Santa Teresa and I hope to ride it one day.

Behind the arches you can see a beehive/pyramid looking building. It's the Cathedral!

That's the Cathedral on the left and appropriately my first glimpse of Christ the Redeemer up there overlooking the city since 1931.
Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and you can see the bell tower on the left.

Not my picture, I got it off wiki because I wanted to set the stage for this amazing amazing building you see in the middle.

Inside... looks like this. I gasped. It's so close to me I'll probably drop by again.

It's new, "...designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca in a modern style based on Mayan architectural style of pyramids. Built between 1964 and 1979 this cathedral replaced as seat of the Archdiocese a series of churches that had served as cathedrals since 1676."
I like how they painted the shadow of nonexistent buildings.
I like this one too. And if there are two there are probably more.
A look into a back street off the main boulevard. I've got some exploring ahead!
September 26

To all my family and friends who worry about my flips, I've gone over to my trail runner's shoes. Why? Because this is a good part of the sidewalk.

Pay Attention! No Falling!
I walked over to the Museum of Modern Art and got my first glimpse of the sea.
I've seen this rabbit/hare in other places sitting on a different base. Handsome, isn't he.
I couldn't stop looking at this picture. Uma amor impossivel. A bela lindonéia. Trying to find out more about it, turns out it's been used as the cover of an album.

It's by Rubens Gerchman, called Lindonéia - a Gioconda do subúrbio,, 1966. Lindonéia - Mona Lisa of the Periphery.
Me, in front of a video installation.
On the way back to the hotel I stopped at my snack man, he's my snack man now because we discussed all the snacks, me in Spanish with a bit of English, he in Portuguese with a bit of English, and it was so much fun.

I've been speaking Spanish a lot more frequently than I thought I would but for people who don't speak so much English it seems they can more easily understand my school girl Spanish and I can even get a little of the gist in Portuguese. What fun!
Next stop, Street Art Tour!

I'm going to ask Nina for the names of the artists because no way could I remember.

Miguel Vida One Love
Carlos Joint; Minion; Nadi; Trapa Crew; Hifael; Leco; Cast
Universo Acme
Nina! of Rio Street Art Tours. What a charmer and so knowledgeable. We had a wonderful day and we're going to have a wonderful day tomorrow too.

Aira Ocrespo
Swingin' Nina.
Marcelo Echo
Nina didn't know this artist. I don't have anything of rat-guy, Mel/ton-Joffily
Time for a break and here's the cutie-pie fellow running the bar and snack stand where we spent a fine lazy hour...
...I and the lovely Nina, enjoying some really super delicious and icy-cold beer and...
...eating yummy sardines. This is the second time I've eaten these fried sardines, once yesterday too in a different place, because they are delicious, and...
...talking about this huge piece across the street. Each character is painted by a different artist and Nina knew them all.
September 27

Yesterday I walked around Tijuca (pronounced something like tze-zoo-ka) with Nina and it was so interesting.

Today VeeVee from France joined me and Nina for a longer outing including Metro, walking-walking, and car rides.

We really got around including driving the entire stretch from Leblon-Ipanema-Copacabana-Leme, from lifeguard stations 1-12 with each station having it's own personality. Look it up so when you choose a beach, you've got one that suits your interests, or just stroll along and stop when it feels right.
We started in the area around the General Osorio Metro station.

Carlos Bobi; MZ
Wark Rocinha
One of the very rare site specific pieces we saw. Nina searched this one out because she knew I'd like it. Mostly we have artists painting on long walls one piece next the other, all friends who often merge their works.
Here's a bit of the beach with the Two Brothers in the foreground and the Vidigal Favela between them and another mountain whose name I can't remember right now.

Remember the snack man from yesterday? Nina brought snacks for us that she said was the most local and most addictive snack in Rio. Yes, the two were the same, so it must be true!
VeeVee and I wanted to see Olympic Boulevard, a big art project created at the pier and warehouse district for the 2016 Olympics. So Nina said sure, let's go! What a gal.

This is a monumental work by Eduardo Kobra, a world-renowned Brazilian graffiti artist and was the largest mural in the world at the time. He's from Sao Paulo, not Rio, much to Nina's chagrin.

"The work depicts a Tajapo boy from Brazil, a Mursi woman from Ethiopia, a Kayin woman from Thailand, a Supi man from Northern Europe, and a Huli man from Papua New Guinea. They represent humanity’s common ancestors, the indigenous people from America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia."

I got this from the internet because I couldn't get a full shot myself and it's necessary to feel for the scale.

She was just doing this!

Camila Camiz
Olympic Boulevard has much more on it than the painted warehouses. The area was cleaned up for the Olympics and that wasn't so long ago.

There was the Olympics in 2016 and the World Cup in 2014 and a lot of the new infrastructure and decorations were built for these occasions. Like Nina likes to say, not for the people.

Avilherme "Billy the Kid"; Gola
Nice. We especially like the guy at the bottom with his eye patch.

Wark Rocinha
Check out her scarves.

Gilzin Faria
Us! VeeVee, me, Nina.

On our walk along the edge of downtown, back to the car, we passed this...

...and THIS!

Cosmo Nauta
The election for President is 9 days away and it's a Very Big Deal with it seems the choice between a Communist who is in jail, and a 'man' who prides himself on out-Trumping Trump.

I'm not sure if this is going to be one of my places, but it was cool and quiet and a nice spot to relax after the long day.
September 28

The inset is from wiki as is the following: "Escadaria Selarón, also known as the 'Selaron Steps', is a set of world-famous steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as "my tribute to the Brazilian people"."

I'm never getting to look at it like wiki did!

Remember the first evening when I took a picture of that maybe scary looking side street around the corner from my hotel? This is the next street over...
...and there are murals and vendors all along the street that leads to the stairs.

Lerk; Duex; Jainin; Fakir
A few of the highlights from my neighborhood - my hotel, the arches, the Cathedral, the buildings with the cross cut out, the Selaron Steps to my left, and the Petrobras building is just off to the right. The park is further to the right and behind.

If you want to stay at the beach there are plenty of options but if you want to be within walking distance of so much good stuff, and seven minutes to the Metro, I highly recommend Lapa for a home base.
Strolling around Lapa one finds so many lines for delicious-looking foods that I couldn't stand in them all. I was trying to figure out what this was and one of the women in the surrounding crowd poked me in the arm, put her finger to her lips and said YES. OK then.

They pour a tapioca batter into a ring on the grill, add fillings, cook, flip, fold into a taco shape, et voila! I asked for the most popular one. I have no idea what was in it but it was very good.
This is the Petrobras building. When I was driving in from the airport the Uber guy was all about Petrobras and corruption. He felt very strongly on this topic!
A view into my neighborhood from the Santa Teresa Tram that runs over the arches and into Santa Teresa.

"The Santa Teresa Tram… that connects the city centre with the primarily residential, inner-city neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, in the hills immediately southwest of downtown. It is mainly maintained as a tourist attraction and is nowadays considered a heritage tramway system, having been designated a national historic monument in 1988.

"Having run continuously since its opening in 1877 (except for a 2011–15 suspension), it is one of the oldest street railway lines in the world and having been electrically powered since 1896, it is the oldest electric railway in all of Latin America. It is also the only remaining metropolitan tram system in Brazil."
It was fun to take this slow open air ride though the hills behind my hotel. Although it is mostly for tourists there were a few local people who got off and on.
A view down one of the residential streets.
I did my thing - find the nicest hotel, buy a beverage, and enjoy!
Plumeria bloom here too.
There were some longer views but it was very cloudy with pretty constant sprinkles.
I don't know what the green building is.

Tarm; Marcelo Ment
This was unexpected, to get a clear view of the cathedral and the bell towner.
The sprinkles were turning into rain and I judged that the local people knew best since all the street vendors were covering up with plastic so I decided to enjoy a leisurely meal and make it an early night.

In the foreground you can see those pod shaped guys on a post. Public telephones! They are clustered on most corners. Nina said the city tried to take them out but the hue and cry brought them back.
September 29

My plan for today was to walk the 8k stretch from Leblon-Ipanema-Copacabana-Leme, from lifeguard stations 12-1, so I took the Metro and walked a bit to get to lifeguard station 11 and decided that was close enough.
There are places to eat and drink all along the way. Notice the pattern in the tiles. This is one way to know you are on the Ipanema side as the pattern changes when you get to the Copacabana side. My street has a different pattern still, so there must be more.
Places to eat, drink, and gather.
I like this view.
The last lifeguard station on Ipanema is 7 and the best spot for surfing. Then to get to Copacabana you have to go on the street...
...because this blocks the way. You can visit here but I didn't.
There is a definite police presence and often they are heavily armed. Everyone wanted to pet the horses and take a selfie so I guess they weren't scary.
Now we're on Copa and you can see the famous pattern.
I don't remember where the rest of the people were as this was very rare, to have a quiet moment alone on Copacabana beach.
Then I started to notice some commotion up ahead. What's going on?
It's a political rally for Bolsonaro.

Here's what Voice of America has to say about him:

"The former army captain and seven-term congressman has tapped into deep unease in Brazil, which is reeling from a sweeping corruption scandal and is struggling to grow again after a protracted recession.

"Bolsonaro has expressed nostalgia for the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, has been repeatedly fined for offensive comments, and has made cracking down on crime a centerpiece of his campaign. He says he supports market-friendly economic policies but has given few details."
From The Guardian:

"But he is widely loathed by political opponents for his inflammatory attacks on women, black people, gay people, foreigners and indigenous communities, for which he was fined and even faced charges of inciting hate speech.

"In 2015 he was ordered to pay compensation to a fellow member of congress for saying that she wasn't "worth raping”."
She was doing a selfie-video really going at it, so impassioned, so intense.

There is a significant #NotHim movement if political buttons have anything to say but it's the same, #NotHim is not enough.
A local guy with a USA t-shirt and a pony-dog. The guy wanted to take my picture with the dog but I couldn't get the dog's slobber face out of my crotch long enough to give the guy the camera.

I made my way to near the end of the crowd and thought I'd better head back as it was getting late, the police presence was increasing, and I felt it was time to leave.
I emerged from the subway at my station and YIKES the place, at about 7pm was insanely unexpected with multiple political groups, not just the Bolsonaro people and the ground was ankle-deep in the detritus of eating and drinking.

There were a dozen of these carts selling liquor of every type and some specializing in...
...Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil.

On that note I wove my way through the crowds to my hotel. And the next morning it was all swept up. That was about as amazing as the mess itself.
September 30

I had to get out so early today, at 6:45 to arrive at the meet-up place for a tour of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. This is the every-morning buffet at the hotel and it is both satisfying and tasty. They open at 6:30 so that worked great for today.

I decided to take a tour of those two must-see tourist destinations so as to make sure I did those things and so as not to have to mess with transportation and it was perfectly fine.
There's Sugarloaf all pointy in the distance.

When we headed up the mountain to Christ the Redeemer... was cloudy and everyone was wondering if we'd get any view at all.
We did get there first, as promised by the tour operator, but within minutes it was packed up here. Everyone was chanting 'give Him a chance give Him a chance' and sure enough the sky cleared probably from all that chanting.
It's pretty high, 700 meters (2,300 feet), and you could see how steep it would be. First you drive, then walk, then take an elevator, then walk up these flights and flights of stairs.
And then back down again under clear skies.
We drove down to sea level and a few miles more to catch the two aerial skyways up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Here's the gang and Paulo, the guide of ultimate enthusiasm and linguistic gifts. He could ramble off a tour in fast and animated Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French, and maybe even other languages I didn't hear him speak.
Look! It's the Cathedral, my 'hood!
Copacabana Beach with Ipanema being out of sight to the north.
A view...
...and a telephoto from the same spot. Christ the Redeemer vs The Internet.
It's Gay Pride Day on Copacabana Beach. The sun was ablaze and I didn't last long...
...and it got more and more crowded by the minute.
Natalie from Ontario came with me after our surprisingly good tour lunch of all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ.
Wow, the beach was more packed than ever and the streets were impassable. We wormed our way through the dancing singing throng. It was fun!
So long Gay Pride, time for me to go home.
My hotel is at the end of the street. When I first arrived this stretch was quite tidy and clean, then a few days later it was completely filled with people sitting on cardboard, wrapped in blankets, and camping out, then this afternoon all the homeless are gone.
October 1

Today is my last full day in Rio and I have nothing on except lunch with the lovely Nina.

I've been using the Metro every day and hadn't noticed until this very ride that the stations are not decorated. I didn't notice until I saw this mural and upon reflection the basic lack of decoration is very surprising since the whole system is relatively new, the first short line opening in 1979.
The park where I met Nina in Leblon.
We ran into one of the street artists who we had been talking about and man-o-man is he a cutie pie. Sweet, charming, does wonderful work, and according to Nina beloved by all.
We stopped off at Nina's friend's brewery where they experiment with flavors, and shared a nice big frosty one.
More art in the brewery.
Then we went to have a traditional dish that I had not yet enjoyed, and shots of the national liquor. How lucky I was to find Nina and what a delightful afternoon, Feihoada and cachaça with honey and lime.
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