Eric took Friday off of work, so on Thursday afternoon we left Belo Horizonte and made the 6-hour journey to the coast. We ended up renting an apartment in Ipanema which turned out to be tons cheaper than getting hotel rooms for all of us and we were in a great location just 4 blocks from the beach.
The forecast was calling for great weather Friday, cloudiness on Saturday, and rain on Sunday. We decided we had better go ahead and get the big sights with views of the city in on Friday before clouds set in.
We started Friday morning with an amazing trip up to the Cristo.
To get an idea of the scale, here I am below standing at the base!
I was really intent on getting in some quality beach time too while we were there, so Friday afternoon we all headed down to the Ipanema beach. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and the water, while a little cool, was clear and fabulous and had just enough waves to make playing in the water a lot of fun for Dad, Eric, and me!
I love that no matter where you are on the beach, you always have mountains in the background.
Here's a little more, uh, "scenery". Poor Mom, had no clue. :) I do think someone got a good shoulder punch though when she later saw this one.
After spending the afternoon as beach bums, we got cleaned up and headed to Pão de Açúcar to take in some more panoramic views of the city. After riding the cable car to the first stop, we caught a beautiful sunset over beside the Cristo.
And then we headed up to the top.
The views from Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) are so amazing. Sunset is the perfect time to take it all in too!
We watched the sun go down, the moon rise, and all the city lights come on.
Afterwards we headed to Copacabana and ate supper at Decks, where we had the pizza rodízio (all you can eat pizza, brought out and slices offered to you by servers one-two pizzas at a time.) If you ever really want to test your translating skills, take a group of four tourists to one of these places. Pizzas were coming out nonstop, each pizza was half/half and had 2-6 toppings on each half. And pizza here if different. It's good, it's just different. No pepperoni, sausage, or green peppers. Nope, try heart of palm, catipury, green peas, crunchy potato sticks . . . yeah, hardly anything "recognizable" so lots of translation was necessary. Add that to the fact that Eric and I have taken to calling almost all food by it's Portuguese name, even when we are speaking English to each other, and the speed at which pizzas kept coming, and yeah, we weren't the best tour guides ever that particular night. (And did I mention that if you hesitate for more than two seconds in telling the servers whether or not you want a slice, you end up with some on your plate? Yep, we all ended up with a lot of pizza to eat!) And then, once we were all thoroughly stuffed - roughly 17 minutes after arriving - they mentioned dessert pizzas. Amazing how much space suddenly became available in everyone's belly. Especially mine. Like I always say, bring on the white chocolate and strawberry pizza with whipped cream on top! Oh and yes, the dark chocolate with caramel sounds great too. Um, yes, of course I want whipped cream on that one as well. Mmmmmm, dessert pizza.
(Wiping the drool from my keyboard.) Now, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, we were in Rio. Anyway, the forecasters were correct and Saturday ended up being pretty overcast. It made for a great day of walking though. After having breakfast at a juice bar and eating more than my fair share of açai (love. that. stuff.), we headed down to Copacabana and walked the boardwalk and the beach for a while.
Then we stopped for a bit because I had to have some coconut water. Love. that. stuff. too. (And obviously, it takes a whole lot of concentration to remove the paper from a straw . . .)
After our walk, we drove out to Rio's Jardim Botânico to stroll though their gardens.
Upon entering, we were greeted by the most interesting statues dancing in the grass.
Which apparently inspired Grandma and Grandad. ;) We were all just happy they kept their clothes on. hehehe
It was a really pretty and quiet place, a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
After spending most of the afternoon at the botanical gardens, we went out to Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema) for a fabulous last supper.
We ordered the Mixed Churrasco (which came with two big pieces each of grilled chicken breast, beef steak, sausage, pork loin, and several sides) which the menu suggested was for 2 - 4 people. We added a couple extra sides and figured it would be plenty of food for all of us. Eric and I went to this restaurant the last time we were in Rio, ordered a meal for two, and left more than half of it behind - it was so much food! We had seen another table order the mixed churrasco, so we felt pretty sure of what we were getting. The waiter responded in disbelief that that was all we were ordering for the whole table and asked if everyone was planning on eating or not. After getting our bellies plenty full, we still had food left behind! (Note: restaurant portions are big here too!)
Their plane was leaving Rio Sunday morning at 6:15, so we had a nice early morning and got to the airport about 4:30 am. After saying our goodbyes and seeing them on their way, Eric and I went back to the apartment and slept another couple hours.
I had contacted one of my bloggy friends, Rio Gringa, and asked if she wanted to meet up for brunch Sunday morning. She recommended the brunch at Parque Lage, which turned out to be a great meal with the most wonderful atmosphere! She and her boyfriend came out, and Eric and I really enjoyed getting to know them! I am now two-for-two in meeting "blog" people and having a great time with them! And I only managed to embarrass myself once. (Note to self: when meeting a nice Jewish girl from New York, and the conversation ventures somehow towards birthdays, and you learn that her birthday is in the beginning of December (as opposed to my December 26 birthday), going on and on about "Oh, that's so much better! At least you have a little space between your birthday and Christmas!" isn't the most relevant or appropriate comment at that particular moment.) The worst part is that it never even phased me until she casually mentioned something along the lines of, "Yeah, but Hanukkah almost always seems to fall right on or around my birthday." Oh, um, yeah, right. (Note to self: Stupid, stupid, Gentile!) I promise I'm more cultured than I seem. ;)