Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rio de Janeiro

The flight to Rio from Manaus was scheduled for 1:15am on December 21 and we were scheduled to arrive at 7:15am (with a 2 hour time difference). After two straight days of tours, we were exhausted but when we returned from our tour on the 20th, we ate a dinner of champions (ice cream and chips), packed and waited for our 10:30pm pick up. We figured a 1:15am flight would mean not too many people at the airport but apparently most flights out of Manaus are late and most people don't arrive until about 10 minutes before departure...which means all the flights are pretty much delayed.

Paul is getting impatient

Boarding the plane at 1:30am

We didn't take off until 2am and it had to be one of the most uncomfortable flights ever. Landing 4 hours later seemed like an eternity.

Good morning, Rio!

The baggage claim area was worse than in China! If you can believe it.

We were zombies but somehow managed to get a taxi (you buy a voucher at the taxi stand in the baggage claim area) and find the apartment we would be staying at for 6 nights along Copacabana beach. Since we arrived so early, the apartment wasn't ready so we dropped our bags off and went to search for food. There weren't too many restaurants open for breakfast at 10am but there was a bar open that had seating on the sidewalk. It was quite the sight to see really drunk people in hardly any clothes stumbling around so early in the morning. I thought maybe they were continuing festivities from the night before but Paul says when our taxi dropped us off, he saw them open the bar at 9am. So in 60 short minutes - EVERYONE was wasted. Nice.

We splurged and ate at the Windsor Atlantica breakfast buffet

Anyway, the weather was pretty overcast the first couple of days so we didn't head out to see Cristo Redentor (Statue of Christ the Redeemer). The forecast for the following days were clouds and thunderstorms...we figured at any point we decided to visit Cristo, we would get the usual view of anything Paul and I try to see - fog and clouds. But we decided to wait it out which meant we had a few days to kill which we spent catching up on this blog, surfing the web, Facetiming with family back home, watching Netflix and sleeping in.

My nephews - Timothy, Branden and Joshua

My niece Emily and nephew Timothy

On December 23 we explored more of the area before meeting up with a high school friend of mine. I happen to be scrolling my news feed on Facebook when I saw that she and her husband were heading to Rio the same day we were. We got in touch and decided to meet up along Ipanema beach so we took a nice long walk there.

Copacabana

I wanted to try Pizza in a Cone

Copacabana beach

Yay, we're walking along the beach!

This guy was excited for us so Paul gave him a high-five

It was a little windy - look at Paul's flowing hair

We stopped at Parque Garota de Ipanema 

This is Ipanema beach - you can kind of see Christ the Redeemer in the distance

Here's a zoomed in shot

It was a little windy - makes me look like I have a comb over

The wind wasn't as crazy here

One more shot of Ipanema beach

We finally met up with Eva and her husband Joey in the afternoon along Ipanema beach. I haven't seen her since 1994 (yes, that's 19 years ago)! We headed to a suco (juice) bar for some refreshments. Eva and I (along with a few other classmates) had traveled to France together in 1994 for a school program. What a small world that we meet up in Brazil, 19 years later.

Reunion!

We found some Tex-Mex for dinner and then walked back to the apartment...next time we're in Rio, we'd like to stay here!

This guy totally deserved it. Trust me.

Christmas Eve was spent lounging around, doing laundry and watching Christmasy movies like Die Hard and A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (we didn't have access to any claymation or A Christmas Story).

Spending Christmas with the good people at Nakatomi Plaza

I got to Facetime with the family for a few minutes before we went to bed. This video my sister Lil sent of the kids at home made me really miss Christmas time with the family.


Christmas Day we woke up early to the clearest skies we've seen since we arrived. So, we headed to Cristo in hopes of seeing him not engulfed in fog. We made it there and the fog promptly rolled in. We got a few good shots before the statue was totally covered.

Yay, blue skies!

Merry Christmas!

I just noticed Paul in the corner - creepy!

It was still clear when we made it all the way up to Corcovado mountain - you can see the lagoon very clearly

Cristo Redentor was completed in 1931 - it took about 9 years to construct

The statue is 30 meters (98 feet) tall not including the 8m (26ft) pedestal

It was a Christmas miracle the weather held out

But not for long...

The fog and clouds are starting to move in

Here it comes

Mustache Kitty wanted a photo too

Yeah, now this is what we're used to

It was a little eerie with the fog

Losing view of the city

Look at how foggy it is!

I was hoping it would clear up - it did a little - you can see the tree in the lagoon

But it just got foggier

So we finally left

We hung out in the apartment for a bit before dinner and I got to Facetime with my nephew Branden.

He got a doctor's play set for Christmas

And was giving me a virtual check up

Using his stethoscope to check Paul's heartbeat

We then headed out for our Christmas dinner (which was only marginally better than our hot dog Christmas Eve dinner in the apartment) but cost about 5x more!

It was a nice view though

And it was a nice evening to walk along the beach

Feliz Natal!

Tomorrow we leave for Foz do Iguacu - the second largest waterfall in the world. Early morning pick up (4:45am) and a long day of flights but I am very excited to be posting in real time today! It only took me about a year since starting this blog...hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and enjoyed time with their families.

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