Friday, June 12, 2009

My Adventures in Rio de Janeiro - Day 9, 10 & 11

Sunday, I didn't take a lot of photos (have to get some from Lezlea) because outside of church and the Hippie Fair, Julia had a surprise birthday party for Marcia. Our instructions were to get Marcia out of the apartment and occupy her for about an hour or so to allow folks to arrive.
Julia had invited over 20 guests. She had quiches and salads (my favorite was cous cous which I have since gottent the recipe for) and then there was this wonderful dressing made out of peanut butter. The birthday cake was certainly the one of the best I have ever eaten. It had an apricot filling.
Marcia's friends were very warm and friendly. I had many pleasant conversations with several people. They were very generous with the many lovely gifts that they showered upon Marcia.

Uncle Guy and I just before church.
On Monday, (supposed to be our last day), we went to Barra and ate at a local restaurant called The Nativo. The food was pretty good but the view of the beach was the best. Here is Julia.
Here is another photo of Julia with her dog, Brisa.
Guy and Julia dropped us off at the airport about 8 PM. We got on board our plane (scheduled to leave at 10:10 PM). After three hours of waiting, our flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. They put us up in the Intercontinental Hotel in Barra. The hotel was very nice but the cab ride was very scary. It's like the driver was in a Nascar race. He drove excessively fast. Lezlea was in the back with praying hands telling me to be praying as well. We finally got checked in around 5 AM.
Uncle Guy had given me three vintage bamboo fly rods to carry home to Ted (a very thoughtful gift). Unfortunately, I couldn't carry them on the plane so I had to tape them to the side of my large suitcase and then have the case wrapped in plastic to protect it and keep it all together. This would not have been a problem except that my clothes and toiletries were in that wrapped suitcase. I was not anticipating another night's stay. Thankfully, I had packed my toothbrush in my carry on. I had to borrow items from Lezlea to get me through the next day.

Here is a view of the beach from our hotel.

This is a view from our hotel room on the 11th floor.

This is a view of the hotel pool from our room.
The airline arranged for buses to pick us up and take us back to the airport around 3:30 PM. As soon as we reached the Delta desks, we learned that we were to fly Continental and our flight was leaving in an hour. This flight left Rio, flew to Sao Paulo and then on to Houston. From Houston I got a flight straight to Charlotte.
The hardest part of the entire trip was my lack of communication with family. It was very expensive, so I limited my communication to emails everyday and I called from my uncle's Skype account three times. By the time I finally got home, my poor husband was so frazzled from not knowing exactly my predicament that he had a dozen roses in hand when he picked me up at the airport. He said it felt like we had been apart for months.
Rio is beautiful. I plan to go back with Ted at our earliest opportunity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Adventures in Rio de Janeiro - Day 8

On Saturday, Marcia, Guy, Lezlea and I headed to the Forte de Copacabana. Along the way we saw a few noteworthy things.

Here is some more of that unique grafity that you see all over the place.

The beaches were particularly crowded on the weekends. Here you can see all of those umbrellas on the beach.

They have a portion of the road reserved just for bicyclists and joggers along the beach stretch. Lezlea and I noticed that we didn't see any fat Brasilians.

Here is the entrance to the Forte de Copacabana.

I think these guys are modeled after the guards in London. You know, the ones who are supposed to be absolutely still, not smile, blink or acknowledge your presence.

The views from the fort were awesome of Copacabana beach. Ironically, along the beaches are the resort hotels and condos. On the mountainside, you see the favelas (slum areas).

Here is my Uncle Guy and his wonderful wife, Marcia.

Another beautiful view from the fort. I love all the mountains.

Here I am in front of the stone wall at the fort.

This is the entrance to the actual fort.

Here I am with my Uncle Guy. We ate at the Confeteria de Columbo here at the fort. I have to say it was some of THE BEST food I've eaten. I had this most wonderful salad. We also ordered three different pastries (the kinds with meat and cheeses and chicken in them). I would love to learn how to make them or at least find a place to buy them.
This place is known for it's desserts so we had to try them. Lezlea got a brownie with ice cream and whipped cream. It looked good, but she said it was the best brownie she had ever had. That is saying something. I think I had a little chocolate tart that was very good as well, but I really loved the cheese pastries. Brie is a very popular cheese there and I've not had much exposure to it. I just bought some to try and make some Brasilian dishes with.

After lunch, we dropped Guy back off at the apartment to rest. Marcia needed to go to the grocery store so Lezlea and I went with her. Across the street from the supermarket was the most wonderful cemetary Lezlea or I had ever seen. It was beautiful. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful sculptures, ornate headstones of all shapes and sizes. We marched in with cameras in hand and the attendant shook his head that we weren't allowed to take pictures. The only thing I could figure is it was either a privacy issue, or a respect issue. My thought was, what better way to pay tribute to their loved one's passing then the beautiful art.
Lezlea and I learned from then on, to be more discreet with our cameras. My camera was smaller and less noticeable, so I snuck a few photos. Marcia said that both of her parents were buried in that cemetary. She was surprised we weren't supposed to take photos. Maybe because we looked like American tourists?

Some more from that cemetary.

These headstones were huge! It looked like all burials were above ground in crypts.

Here is a photo from the supermarket. It had a parking garage below it. On the bottom shelf is the milk in cartons that we drank the whole time there.

Afterwards, Marcia took us to a beautiful park where this old mansion rested underneath Corcovado Mountain. Inside, they had turned it into a place where students could showcase their art. There was a little eating place and small tables all around a pool (that obviously wasn't being used at the time - water dingy).

At the top right of this picture sits the Christ statue on top of that mountain. You can barely see it in the photo but you can see it clearly from that perspective. This photo is inside the courtyard area.

Here is Marcia inside the courtyard. She was truly a wonderful hostess. She has a sarcastic quick wit about her that makes her such a perfect fit into the Archer family. :)

My Adventures in Rio de Janeiro - Day 7

On Friday, we met Dennison (a friend of Guy's from church) in downtown Rio for a walking tour. Just a few nights before we had attempted an evening in downtown Rio that we decided was not for the faint of heart. Rio at night was kind of scary. We chose NOT to get out of the car, but instead, drove around for a while and headed home. There was trash in the streets (that was cleaned up by morning) and we saw transvedite hookers (very creepy).

Rio during the day was a very different experience. I never felt unsafe even though the streets were very crowded.

This is Dennison and my Uncle Guy.

This is one of the street vendors in Rio. He was very nice and was kind to show us different exotic fruits.

This is actually a church or cathedral in Rio. We didn't go inside but saw pictures of it later in a book and wished we had. It was very unique.

Dennison, Guy and Lezlea

We rode the trolley and this was one of the views from it.

This is one of the churches that we went inside of. Wow! It was gorgeous. Dennison joked about how depressing it was and it was, but it was very ornate and beautiful inside anyway.
Lezlea and I standing by the front doors of the church.

A view on the inside.

My camera just didn't do this church any justice.

This is Dennison and Lezlea and we are walking thru some of the streets that cars can't go through. I was amazed at how many people there were. I have never seen so many cars, buses and people in one location as in Rio. However, I have also never been to New York or Washington DC. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Adventures in Rio de Janeiro - Day 6

Thursday was very relaxing. Marcia took us to the Jockey Club. Not only do they have Horse Racing, but they have a very nice gym, tennis courts, pool, restaurant and alas, a spa. The spa was our destination. We got manicures, pedicures and massages for a fraction of what it would cost in the states.

This is a view of the front of the recreation building.

This view is overlooking the horse track.

Afterwards we went shopping in downtown Ipanema.

Another view of downtown Ipanema.

This is another view looking out the window of Guy and Marcia's apartment. I love the cobblestone streets all though they are rough on cars and bodies.

My Adventures in Rio de Janeiro - Day 5

On Wednesday (May 20th - Also Lezlea's Birthday), we took a jeep tour through the Tijuca forest and on up to Corcovado Mountain where the giant statue of Christ sits. I learned that the statue was a gift to Brasil from France. Julia ditched school and went with us.

This is Julia and I.

These are our tour guides, the man outside the jeep is Leo.

Lezlea, Julia and I sitting in the jeep.

As we were climbing the mountain into the Tijuca forest (Rio's rain forest) it actually got cold and rained some on us. Lezlea got really cold and purchased this plastic rain jacket to help keep her warm and dry. I couldn't resist taking this picture of her. :)

This is me next to this beautiful waterfall. My camera just didn't do it justice.

I love how green and lush it is here. Something we learned about this forest is that many years ago, it was a coffee farm. The original rain forest was cleared and coffee trees planted. It ended up being disasterous for the city of Rio because the coffee trees sucked up all the water that fed into the city. The emporer had the whole area replanted. It took 6 men 13 years to accomplish this task.

Here is that beautiful Jesus on top of Corcovado Mountain. There is a tiny chapel in the base. Here is Lezlea along with several other tourists so you can get an idea of how big this is.

A closer view.

A view from the Christ statue.

This is one of the many beautiful views from the Christ statue. The city just seems to go on and on and on and on and on........

This little creature is a cross between and anteater and a raccoon. It didn't seem to be very afraid of tourists and they came up very close. They were used to getting food.

At the end of the day, we celebrated Lezlea's birthday with a cake. The decorations were an edible Book of Mormon (El Libre de Mormon) and an American Flag. I think this will be one of Lezlea's most memorable birthdays!