Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rio - February 13 - 14


Carnival costume in the lobby

We arranged a private tour for two days with Diana Persi www.tourguideinbrazil.com we arranged for her to meet us at 9:30 and she was right on time.  We immediately connected with her and her lovely spirit.  She speaks English very well, but also can speak French and Spanish.  She took us along the beaches and explained the “real” Rio to us.  The skies have a few clouds so Christ Redeemer could be hit or miss so she recommends to us to do it tomorrow when the skies should be clear.  We head off to Sugar Loaf which is very close.  Entry fee is 53R each but there is a discount if you are 60 or older (but we aren’t).  We head up the cable car to the first stop, take some pictures and then head up the second car to the top.  WOW is all I can say, just stunning. 

Below to the right is the entrance for Sugar Loaf, we are heading up the first cable car

Christ Redeemer with clouds, glad Diana recommended we wait until tomorrow

Diana our tour guide

pretty cool shot -  but overcast - but still very hot out

Back in the car and more driving and visiting the sights, next stop is the Monastery de Sao Bento which was built between 1617 and 1641 the interior is adorned with wood carvings and gold.

After the Monastery we head downtown and take the bridge over the Guanabara Bay over to Niterai where we see the city and this perspective of Rio.  We stop and view the Modern Art Museum, then we have a wonderful lunch at a Brazilian buffet.  After lunch we make our way back to the hotel and both Bernie and I are beat, but what a day!

modern art museum

We fall asleep at 4 pm and don’t wake up until 8 pm!  Guess our bodies needed it though.  Jerry and Rose invite us for wine so we head up and chat until 10:30 and enjoy the Brazilian wine.  We are a little hungry and head back to the pool restaurant for a small bite to eat.


We decide to have breakfast at the hotel, they have a lovely buffet and I loved all the fresh fruit.  After breakfast Diana is there to pick us up again right on schedule.  We had specifically asked to see St. Therese neighborhood and we are glad we did it is beautiful. 

We are heading to the Christ Redeemer Statue now and it is a long drive up a windey road and we enter the National Park da Tijuca which is the largest National Park within any city limits. 

Diana drives us to the main parking lot.  Note only cars/taxis can take you to this spot, big tour buses make you take the cog train, which costs more and the line ups were horrendous but apparently it wasn’t bad Diana said, but I am glad we don’t have to wait for it.  Price to visit the statue is 26.53R each (seniors are ½ off). 

We are staring up at the Christ Redeemer statue, can you believe it we are here?  It is busy and it is hard to get your picture in front of it but again Diana says it is not as crazy as it normally is.  We spend about 45 min up at the top admiring the view and the statue before we start heading back towards the car.

Diana takes us further into the park.  It is a beautiful rain forest and the wildlife is beautiful.  We stop at a few spots in the park, including an interpretation center and waterfall.

Back down the mountain where Diana takes us to the wetlands at Marapendi Channels where we board a flat boat to travel up the channels.  We stop for lunch and a good time.  We are full and we are fading again and we make our way back to the hotel and get dropped off around 4 pm. 

We say goodbye to Diana and thank her for a lovely two days and wish her well.  In total the cost of the tour with Diana was $650 for two days for four people, but that was last year’s prices as we booked back in May of 2011, 10 months ago.

We are back in our room at 4 pm and I have to say I really like this area that the hotel is in, it an area that is quieter and from what I am hearing it is one of the better hotels in the area but it is not a normal “North American” four star hotel, maybe a three.  But it was a lot cheaper than the hotels in Copacabana and Impenema.  Plus from what I heard from friends who stayed in Copacabana and Leblon the hotels were almost twice what we paid per night for a much smaller room, and less amenities and the rooms were in poor conidtions, ie sink not draining, windows not opening much, and very very noisy.  I am glad we are at the Sheraton.

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