A quick one before we head to the airport and get caught up in the next stage of our trip – Santiago. Another lovely day yesterday, so we headed across the harbour to Niteroi. We caught a ferry over, then a bus back. Really pleased we did both trips as they gave us great views of the enormous harbour and all the ships both in dock and just waiting in the water. There were also 3 huge cruise ships docked, so the queues at the popular sights would have been enormous!
Most shops are closed on Sundays, apart from a few supermarkets and souvenir shops near the ferry, but the bus trip back to Rio took us through some interesting side streets and then across the very long, very impressive Rio-Niteroi Bridge with great views over Rio. We saw some Carnaval preparations – workers erecting stadium seating along one of the main roads in Rio. Canaval starts on Feb 5th, ends on Feb 10th.
We caught a second bus back to Copacabana, rather than the train, so we could see more of the city, then a stroll down to the beach in the evening for another cocktail. We found a band playing in the street with a big crowd around them, dancing or just tapping their feet to the music. Hordes of people on the Promenade, great atmosphere.
Thanks Rio, it’s been a heap of fun and we’ll be back someday, I’m sure.
Gorgeous day yesterday, so we decided to take a short train trip to Ipanema, the next beach around from Copacabana, to have a look. There’s a Farmers’ Market in a little park a couple of blocks from the apartment, so we went there to see what was available – lots of bananas, vegetables and a couple of stalls selling packets of organic ingredients – dried beans, flours, other staples. Very small packets, most looked like they weighed 500g or less, which makes sense when everyone lives in apartments with little kitchens and limited storage. If I lived here, there would be no going to Costco for 12kg bags of bakers’ flour! In supermarkets here the shopping trolleys are tiny, really just the size of a basket, but on wheels.
We caught the train 2 stops to the end of the line, then walked a few blocks to the beach at Ipanema. Lots of people enjoying the sun, a few swimming, a few guys wandering around with surfboards that we thought were just props as there wasn’t anywhere to surf … but then we found the surfers just around the corner where the waves were pretty good. We walked back to Copacabana – totally different beach to the one we’d seen in rainy weather. People in swimsuits everywhere, stalls renting out beach chairs and umbrellas, cafes full of customers, little stalls selling drinks and ice creams. We stopped at a cafe for a drink – coconut water in a coconut! – and to watch the world go by. We decided to have a crack at going up Sugarloaf Mtn, but thought the queues might be shorter if we left it until later in the afternoon.
Er, that would be a resounding no! We got a taxi from the apartment to the Cable Car station near SugarLoaf, noticing all the parked tour buses along the way, most of them with their drivers sleeping on mats in the luggage compartment. The queue of people waiting looked enormous, so we went and sat by the little beach nearby for a while. We had a great view of the 2 cable cars that take tourists up and back from SugarLoaf – one to Morro da Urca, then the next one to SugarLoaf. We waited half an hour or so then went back to find that the queue was as long as ever, and the tour buses just kept on coming, so we decided that we didn’t really need to get to the top and caught a cab back to the apartment.
In the evening just before sunset we strolled back down to the beach for a drink. So many people work hard to keep Copacabana clean. There are garbage bins everywhere, guys sweeping the sand, emptying the bins, doing a great job. The stalls on the beach were packing up their umbrellas, chairs, drinks, food, so we found a spare table in a cafe on the promenade and ordered caipirinhas, which is Brazil’s national cocktail made with lime, sugar, cachaca & ice. It’s made by muddling lime quarters and sugar together, adding crushed ice and pouring over the cachaca. Even in our minimally-equipped kitchen, there’s a muddling stick! Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice and it is Brazil’s most popular booze. We sipped our drinks and watched the full moon rise. A nice way to end a nice day.