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Approaching Rio De Janeiro

Sailing into—or out of—Rio de Janeiro is simply spectacular.  Indeed, no matter where you are, in or near Rio, the views are stunning.

A New Marketing Strategy—Rio Style

I’m here to tell you that the art auctions on P&O and Cunard cruises are amateur acts compared to the Jewelers From Rio.  What they do is get on the ship as a regular passenger, usually the port before Rio, and just mingle and make friends with everyone else.  And, to anyone who is interested, they offer (free) a private car with driver and guide for the day (or part thereof) to take you wherever you want to go.  The only catch is, you will also be taken to their store in Rio…No obligation to buy, just to look.

There were, to my first-hand knowledge, three such ‘representatives.’  But, alas, only two days in Rio, so one was not able to sample the wares of all of them…  The first afternoon my friend, Dianne, and a young man named Jason  from England – a superb pianist who had been onboard to give a couple excellent concerts — and I were hosted by Saban Jewelers of Rio.  We first went to the Sunday flea market, which was busy and fun,

At least one stall holder found it all too much

then to the Saban shop, which was on Copacabana Beach.  Their jewelry was gorgeous.  (Purchases were made.)

We were returned to the ship in time to get ready for the evening’s entertainment—a lively and colorful, and very cheeky ‘Carnival’ performance by about thirty local dancers and musicians.  In traditional Brazilian style, the costumes consisted mostly of feathery headdresses, thongs, and…silicone.  But  great colour and rhythm…

The next morning our host for the day—this time from Ben Bros Jewelers—was ready to collect us promptly at eight.  We had a full agenda, starting with Corcovada (which means ‘hunchback, and describes the shape of the mountain on which the iconic and imposing statue of Christ stands and towers over Rio).

"Christ the Redeemer" on Corcovado

Much to the annoyance of our guide, however, it turned out that none of our quartet of women had any (or at least enough) Brazilian money to get us into the site.  An unplanned detour back into the city to find a bank that was open was required.  Brazil is a bit awkward in that regard—no ATMs except in banks.  At least it was awkward for us.  But finally the deed was done, and maybe the detour was to our advantage, as our driver took us via a ‘shortcut’ to Corcovado which I’m sure was better than the usual route.

It was a steep and winding climb, lined with interesting—and sometimes grand—houses. Views everywhere. It would be difficult to find a spot in Rio that didn’t have a spectacular view!  A little way into the National Park we had to transfer to a bus that would take us to near the base of the statue where we would take a lift, then escalators.  I needn’t describe the statue—pictures are better—but the crowd was amazing.  One could scarcely move, and apparently it is like that all of the time.  Many people wanted their photo take with their arms outstretched, like the Christ; it seemed to be the thing to do.  Apart from the statue itself—which is quite compelling in its beauty and simplicity—the 360o views were awesome.

Next stop:  Ben Bros Jewelers.  I will only say: purchases were made.  Then on to lunch, which was at a typical (and very popular) Brazilian barbeque restaurant.  Everything except the meat was available at an extensive buffet.  The meat was brought around on large skewers by waiters who would slice it off directly onto your plate.  I didn’t sample the meat, but my companions did and all three reported it was delicious.  I guess it would be—we were in Brazil, after all.

Rio was a surprise to me in some ways.  It didn’t have the smothering density that you find in Sao Paulo.  It’s a  big, busy city, but not suffocating.  Of course, the beaches everywhere help…  Ipanema and Copacabana are only two.

Sand Castle on Copacabana Beach (sorry for the quality of the photo--was taken from a moving vehicle)

On to Sugarloaf.  Even though it is not as high as Corcovado, I liked the views better.  We took two cable cars up to the top, where the crowds were not nearly as dense as at Corcovado.  Again, pictures are better than words here.

View from Sugar Loaf

As you can no doubt guess, I loved Rio.  I’d never had a burning desire to go there, but I’m very pleased that I did.  And I have some rather nifty momentos to remind me what a swell place it is…          MM

My beautiful Brasilian dancing doll