Christ the Redeemer

Been here 3 months now and decided it was time for me to cover some of the ‘touristy’ things. We headed to Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: Cristo Redentor) one of the seven world wonders.

Some History for you: The idea for erecting a large statue atop Corcovado was first suggested in the mid-1850s, when Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss requested financing from Princess Isabel to build a large religious monument. Princess Isabel did not think much of the idea and it was dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a republic country with laws mandating the separation of church and state.   The second proposal for a ‘landmark’ statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by by the Catholic Circle of Rio.  A local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; and it was sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski.  The monument was opened on October 12 1931.

Getting to the top: Head to the Cosme Velho District(Rua Cosme Velho 513) and hop in line to buy your ticket for the small (cogwheel) red train that goes up the mountain to Christ. Note: You can also get a taxi all the way to the top, but with the train you get to enjoy the steep tour through the Atlantic Rainforest up to the foot of the statue, offering stunning glimpses of Rio from many different angles.  The train leaves every 30 minutes on a 17-minute ride that is almost straight up (you will be sliding forward in your seat! There are actually 4 stops along the way- first one made me a little nervous, felt like we were going to roll back down, thankfully we kept chugging along.  Yes a Bom de Samba will join you on the way up! Once you get to the top be prepared to climb a number of stairs to get to the base of the statue. Note: there is an elevator if you need it.

Once you reach the top the view is absolutely breathtaking!  The entire city spreads out in a magnificent panorama during the day, it really is incredible and worth the trip up! But make sure you go on a clear day!!! Check out the fog rolling in… it covers everything!

http://www.wellcomemat.com/wm_video_1/FF4C3610DCFog rolling in produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat

http://www.wellcomemat.com/wm_video_1/9C6A563FD7Christ the Redeemer produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat

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Can You Tell Which Car Is BULLET PROOF?

Can YOU tell which car in the picture above is bullet proof??

Give up?

OK, I’ll tell you.  The bullet proof car is the one on the right!

Since the best surfing beaches are 45 minutes away and there are great towns and islands to visit only 2-3 hours away we decided to get a car.  After much research and visiting a number of dealerships we decided on a Toyota.  Of course being a good salesman in Brazil, the man showed us the car we liked in the bullet proof version…..

For those wondering, it is not totally unusual for people to consider buying a bullet proof car here…. anyways if you knock on the window of the bullet proof car it feels and sounds as if you are stamping on cement (nothing is getting through that baby!).  The door is SO heavy, if we got it, it would be a mini work out for me just to open and close the door! See how thick it is (see above pic)

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Ruins Park- Santa Teresa

Thinking of visiting Santa Teresa for the day? Take the Bonde (tramway) from Largo da Carioca station for R$.60 to the top of the mountain where you will arrive in Santa Teresa.

Parque das Ruinas (Ruin Park) in Santa Teresa was the home of Laurinda Santos Lobo, and was one of the most lively spots of Rio’s until the 50´s. It is currently used as an exhibition hall, auditorium and the setting for various special concerts, open to the public it is a great place to visit before or after lunch.  The view is breathtaking, you feel like you are on top of the world looking down on Rio—- For you shutter-bugs, this is a great place to take lots of pictures:)

It is fun to explore all 3 levels of this hollowed out skeleton of an old mansion, each floor creating a unique view of Rio.

There is also an outdoor bar/café so grab a coffee or a snack and enjoy the view!

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Enjoy Drinks With A View at Bar dos Descasados

Whether you are heading to Santa Teresa for dinner or drinks, everyone you meet will tell you that you must go to Bar dos Descasados at the Santa Teresa Hotel.

The hotel occupies an old house that was once an old coffee plantation home…. and the bar area was actually once the slave quarters! Now, fully restored, the decor is extremely tasteful, using and abusing a lot of demolition wood and the beauty of Brazilian handicrafts. But the real reason people gravitate to this tucked away beautiful hotel is for the breathtaking view of Rio and the delicious drinks!

Spend an afternoon or evening (or both, once you get comfortable you may not want to leave) lounging in a big comfy chair,or plush cabana bed on the terrace. 

Order the ‘French Pink Mojito’ (champagne, rum, cranberry and mint) or the ‘Iced Teresa’ (Mojito with Mate) both are delicious while you enjoy the fabulous views of Rio de Janeiro. If you are hungry for a little snack I recommend the freshly made chips with alioli dip. Though I didn’t eat there, the food looked great and the desserts were to die for— might actually have to make a trip back specifically to try the desserts!  Tip:  This is a prime sunset spot so try to get there half an hour before so you get a comfy seat! 

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Easter

Everyone know that as soon as Christmas is over, all of the decorations and candy in Duane Reade/CVS magically transform into Valentines day decorations & candy almost immediately…. Brazil is largely a Catholic country, so instead of xmas to Valentines (since Valentines here is in June) we experience the transformation from Carnival to Easter almost overnight! 

At every Zona Sul(the popular supermarket here) and Lojes Americana (ie Kmart/Target) the ceilings are covered with hanging chocolate eggs.  As you can see below, there are many different kinds- from crunch bar, to bon bon, white chocolate and fruit however you fancy your chocolates you will find them in egg formation.  Normally, the eggs are hollow chocolate with smaller chocolates inside- great item to bring to someones house!  Yes here in Brazil, if someone invites you over, you are supposed to bring a gift- chocolate or wine will do.

Prices on these babies range from R$15 (for the little ones) to R$400 at the fancy chocolate places for the larger ones.  Pretty crazy what people are spending on these chocolate eggs.

It is a mandatory holiday here so no one has work Thursday or Friday——-

Happy Easter

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Hottest Place to be Easter Weekend…. Rio

People from all over the world flock to Rio to celebrate Easter! Starting at 8am the beaches are fully packed!

It is amazing because in America if anyone sat this close together people would think it was very strange, here it is completely normal…and no one is bothered by it.

The beach stays crowded till at least 6pm…

Beautiful pink sunset behind the mountains

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Tiradentes Palace

Today I went on my first field trip with my Portuguese class to explore Centro (see previous ‘downtown’ post), we went to Tiradentes Palace which was the old building of the National Congress of Brazil between 1926 and 1960…Today it is the current seat of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

Some history for you: In 1922 The Imperial Parliament building was demolished, which gave rise to the Tiradentes Palace, designed by Eclectic Style architects Archimese Memory and Cuchet Francisco.  Named Palacio Tiradentes because it is the site of the old jail where Tiradentes, the leader of the greatest colonist conspiracy against Portugal, was held before his execution by hanging on April 21, 1792.

The facade is lined with concrete, and the allegorical sculptures represent the Independence and Republic. As beautiful as the faced is, it is the inside that is truly magnificent. As you enter, the first thing you see is a gorgeous marble stairway- huge slabs of white marble in perfect condition. The room below is one of the smaller meeting rooms with fresco’s representing the Tiradentes story dancing across the ceiling.  Almost like water colors the paintings are faded, done in pale pastels.

The decorative panel (see below) from Tiradentes Palace House was run by Eliseu Visconti in 1926 and represents the signature of the first Republican Constitution of 1891. The large panel, was restored in 2001, depicting a life-size portrait of the sixty-three constituents. Even from across the room you can see how detailed this painting is and how much pride people feel when looking at it (my teacher was quite moved).

The inside of the dome, is covered with a beautiful stained glass panel which represents the sky in Brazil the morning of the Proclamation of Republic November 15 1889.  The dome was created by Brazilian artist Gastão Formentti and completely restored by Ópera Prima Arquitetura e Restauro, a Rio de Janeiro company. The massive paintings surrounding the dome are historic scenes celebrating the Republic and the story of Tiradentes. It was truly an incredible experience.

Guided tours are free Mon-Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun and holidays noon – 5 p.m, since mine was part of class it was Portuguese only (meaning I actually understood about every 5th word the woman was saying), but don’t worry, you can take a tour in English

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