From the fourth floor of the Sofitel, Rio de Janeiro, overlooking Ipanema Beach & Copacabana Beach.
We’re in Rio! After all the good and bad times on the Rotterdam we’re actually here in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. We were among the last to leave the ship so we had the chance to say goodbye to a lot of people. That was nice. Bob mislaid his keycard for a while and there was the horrifying concept of having to stay aboard, but it all righted itself. We had a five hour transfer the four miles to our hotel. Check-in time was 3PM, and we were on the bus by 11AM. We had a leisurely, but thorough, tour of the city including the new Cathedral which is spectacular and a stop for a tour of the H. Stern Museum and Workshop. H. Stern has been a constant presence for us on this trip; Holland-America has a business tie-in with them. We were promised an "eight- minute tour" which actually took 97 minutes including the one on one sales pitch ("Come on, Peter, treat yourself to that emerald! Don’t you deserve something nice?"). That left us enough time to wander around Ipanema, see the beach, eat a hamburger and window shop. The day was a special holiday (so special that the guide books ignore it) celebrating the freeing of the black slaves by Princess Isabel in 1882. Everything was closed, including the banks and the cambios.
My luggage got lost. No one at the Sofitel can find it or account for it after it left the holding area at the docks. This is a downer.
After waiting for nearly 3 ½ hours for the second bag, containing my dress clothes, my new jacket, ties, and other small things, we had to leave for our Rio by Night tour: dinner and a show. No one knows where it is.
The dinner at a Copacabanna Rottisserie - Porcao - was fun, but exhausting. Included with it was dessert, coffee and either water or a soda. Celine and Bob and I shared a bottle of local Merlot, which was excellent. Then it was on to Plataforma for a 95 minute dance extravaganza, an all dance show that presents the entire history of Brazil in popular dance idioms. The kids in this show are sensational, absolutely, without reservation, sensational. So are the costumes, particularly the Carnivao Samba Club costumes. Back at the hotel, late night drinks in the Horse’s Neck Bar. No luggage delivered to the room, but clearly someone came in to search and see if I am lying about it being lost.
No word about the missing bag, but the search is extended to two other hotels, Le Meridien and the Sheraton Leblon. Open air breakfast at the pool, on a terrace overlooking Copacabanna Beach. (Note: The view of Copacabana Beach from the terrace of our hotel; click on the image to see it larger.) Nine o’clock we’re on a bus again, headed up into the mountains to the little town of Petropolis, named for Emperor Peter the II of Brazil who built his summer palace there. It’s our principal destination today.
Fog and rain set in, just as it did in Lisbon three weeks ago. Our trip through the mountain passes had an almost mystical quality about them. The town of Petropolis is a disquieting combination of gas stations, auto repair outlets, shut and deteriorating factories and the most beautiful residential architecture this side of the Danube. When the Imperial family built their summer palace here, the court followed suit and fabulous homes were constructed here. The palace itself was a marvelous tour, including the gardens and the carriage museum. Traffic was impossible. Lunch in a lake house looking up at the former casino was great. Charuscoria par excellence!!
HALLELUJAH!! When we got back to the room, my missing bag was miraculously hanging in the closet. All the tags were missing, but other than that it seems to be intact.
In the evening Marcelo, a Saban Jeweler's representative we befriended on board, took us out on the town. We started out with drinks and nibbles at Garota Ipanema, the bar where Antonio Carlos Jobim and his partner wrote the famous Girl from Ipanema song. Their own bar, which we visited, is across the road. Then he took us to the Lapa district to a fabulous Samba bar called Rio Scenarium (By the way it made the front page of the New York Times Sunday Travel section on Thanksgiving weekend). We drank local beer and Caiprinha, danced Samba and laughed until well after one in the morning, then took Robbie and Celine back to their respective hotels (Sheraton in Leblon and ours in Copacabana) and called it a wonderful night.
A beautiful, sunny day. After breakfast on the terrace we walked down Copacabana beach, shopped a bit, and came back to the hotel to rest up before we headed out again for a walk on the Ipanema side of the hotel, and then find ourselves the right place for lunch. That place was Casa de Feijoada. Lunch was immense and marvelous. At least until the small restaurant was invaded by a busload of noisy German tourists. However, we had just about concluded our meal by that time. Back to the hotel for a rest and some work on the photographs which will be up on this site next week. Then Marcelo picked us up again and it was off to Flamengo to visit the Carmen Miranda Museum: small but nice.
After that it was back to the beach of millionaires and some jewelry shopping at Saban, Marcelo’s business. We weren’t going to buy anything, but we did.
Tonight it’s dinner at La Pre Catalan, one of the world’s greatest French restaurants we hear. We both are looking forward to it.
Dinner among the most beautiful I have ever experienced. If Rio had nothing other than this to offer it would still be a destination point to consider and that’s my last word on the subject of this trip until we get home. That will be sometime this weekend, but don’t expect to get a call. Not just yet. Thanks for reading all this. Hope that you’ll come back and visit again once the photos are up.