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2019 - South America - Day 8 - Rio

After the down we felt from yesterday I was determined we would make today a good day. It didn’t get off to the best of starts though when Karen grumbled at the standard of another Brazilian Hotel Breakfast. She complained the corn flakes were not up to Kelloggs standard, then that the tea was not Tetleys, the eggs looked ‘funny’ and why was there so much cake for breakfast? I just thought that this could be a long day ahead of me whilst tucking into my food.

Today we had decided to walk the entire length of the Copacabana Promenade and then cut across the headland to sample Ipanema Beach. It would be about 5 miles but would tick off 2 more of the famous world beaches I wanted to visit. We set off from our room at around 9.30am. Boy was it hot even at that time. We ambled slowly trying to find positives in the place, as we went along. The beach was already heaving and there were people streaming onto it all the time. Disappointingly we didn’t see anyone playing football on the beach as I was looking forward to joining in and showing them some silky British skills. We didn’t see as many hawkers as the day before as presumably they don’t clock on until later.

After about 35 minutes we came to the Copacabana Palace Hotel which is right on the front and the poshest Hotel here. We decided to try and get a drink. What we have found with these type of Hotels is that you have to walk in confidently as if you were staying there, which we did. We were not challenged. Then we followed signs to the cafe/restaurant. They were still serving breakfast but we brazenly tried to order some drinks and said we would pay in cash. They were not geared up for that and told us they could only serve staying guests. So disappointedly we left after having a quick nose around. The pool area looked lovely but I confidently predicted that 4 nights staying here would probably have cost more than our entire trip. On the way out we found a coffee shop that was part of the Hotel but accessible from the outside and therefore open to the public. At least it should have been but whilst we could see staff in the cafe getting ready they did not open the doors. We sat outside in some welcome shade thinking it wouldn’t be much longer all to no avail. Whilst waiting they had at least a dozen other customers try the door to get in, so my tip to them is open earlier - you are losing a lot of trade.

We carried on walking and then came to a Marriot Hotel and so went in and managed to order some cold drinks from the lobby bar. We sat for a while in their cool air con in their front window watching the world go by on the Copacabana. The drinks were expensive but it was worth it for the rest, temperature respite and the view. Eventually we ventured out to carry on with the walk. It was even hotter and so our pace reduced somewhat especially as we kept looking for shade. The further we got along the beach the less ‘sophisticated’ it got and it wasn’t that great at the beginning. The beach narrowed the further we went and people were crammed in tighter and tighter. There were more and more street sellers plying their wares on blankets, mostly the same old rubbish you get the world over.

At the end of the beach we followed the crowd down a street for the 13 minute walk to Ipanema. This street looked as though it used to have some nice shops along it. There were just a few left but many were boarded up and in many parts the pavement was cracked or missing. Now I had heard that Ipanema was the ‘poor mans’ beach. If that is the case then there are lots of poor people who want to go to the beach. It was rammed full. The promenade there was much higher than the beach so we could get a better perspective. There were umbrellas as far as the eye could see. If you were trying to find the actual girl from Ipanema then it would take you ages to work out where she was.

After a short walk and a couple of pictures we decided to turn back, especially as it had take us 2 ½ hours to get to this point. Karen was really struggling with the heat on the way back and we had to have a couple of short stops in the shade before we eventually got back to the Marriott. To heck with the cost we ordered more cool drinks and went and sat in the window again to cool down and relax. Karen relaxed so much that she fell asleep for a short while. Not wishing to outstay our welcome we then made our way back to the promenade afterwards. I dangled the prospect of caffeine to Karen at the posh coffee shop that was not open earlier and so I was pleased when we saw it was open. It was actually a coffee/ice cream parlour so Karen ordered a freshly made waffle with Chocolate and a Flat White to go with it, whilst I arranged a mortgage to pay for them. Karen said they were just OK but not worth the money!

We then decided to push on back to the Hotel where we collapsed in our rooms for about 90 minutes just cooling down and reading. After a quick shower we headed out around 5pm back through the road tunnel to the shopping mall to get some food. As expected we ended back at Outback as we knew we could trust the food and the prices were very reasonable. We both had steak this time although I pushed the boat out and also had a starter of the traditional Caesar salad. To commemorate the long walk Karen had achieved we rounded off her evening with a Starbucks before heading back before dark. Tonight we were so tired we put the TV on for a while before falling asleep.

So today Rio felt somewhat better. It was becoming more familiar and less scary. The heat is definitely not to Karen’s liking though but her range of acceptable temperatures seems to be getting narrower. I think she would be coping better if we were just relaxing rather by a pool than trying to see a City and making the most of where we are. The lack of shade anywhere including round the roof top pool does not help. Hopefully tomorrow we will like Rio even more.

The big question tonight is do I have a shave and cut my hair, as I have done neither since a few days before leaving. My hair is long for me and getting fluffier by the day whilst my beard is now quite shaggy. Karen is already starting to nag for me to sort it out.

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