We woke to another glorious sunny day in Rio. One person who has always lived here told us that he had never known the temperature to dip below 13c in his lifetime.
It was another reasonably early breakfast where there must have been a different chef working today as the scrambled eggs not only looked good but tasted good. Karen still found a few things to moan about.
Our plan was to do the City Centre free walking tour although we were unsure how to get to the starting point which was a few miles away. We were told at Reception to take the subway as the quickest, cheapest and very safe option. This was not what we expected and so with map in hand we walked the 10 minutes to the subway station. We purchased some prepaid cards and found it was all very straightforward. The trains were cool and full of just normal people. We felt at ease. Our views of this City were changing somewhat. We got off at the correct station and easily found the meeting point for the walk and duly registered.
I found this walk very interesting and informative. Even the history piece kept me enthralled especially how Rio de Janeiro got its name which means January River. January was when the country was discovered by the Portuguese back whenever. They thought the large bay they landed in was the mouth of a river - which it isn’t.
I was also surprised by how it was once the capital of the whole Portuguese empire moved here from Lisbon and that they got their independence by just announcing it and telling anyone who didn’t agree to do back home to Portugal.
Our guide was an Architect graduate whose English was excellent. We meandered slowly through the Capital area which had many pleasant and interesting shops, stopping in a famous bakery, churches and other buildings along the way. At one point when we were being told a juicy story about some murderess, some locals distracted us all by washing their dog in the street and then turning the dirty water over themselves as an impromptu shower. You probably had to be there to appreciate the absurdity of it all.
There are some very old classy buildings in the centre which are sandwiched tightly between some more modern monstrosities. It was hot walking along and we took the opportunities to buy water when we could. The walk ended in the Lapa area of the City at the Seradon Steps, which is a series of steps covered in colourful tiles that were the life’s work of a local artist. The heat from the concrete around here was stifling and the crowds enormous. We walked up a short way up the steps, took some photos and left the area.
We walked to the Lapa Arch and then started to make our way back to a Subway station. To Karen’s delight there was a Starbucks right outside the station and so we went in for a cool down and a caffeine top up for her. The ride back to our Hotel station was simple enough and we bought some drinks and fruit on the way back.
In our rooms we showered and then went back to the shopping mall for another meal at Outback. This time we hit happy hour and had a “Wallaby Darned’ cocktail. It was nice like a Bellini but we didn’t realise it was served frozen. I had a Fillet Steak Caesar salad which was delicious whilst Karen had a normal chicken one. As we had time we got Karen another drink from Starbucks and then went in a shop to buy some appropriate local presents for 3 certain people back home (no clues).
Once back in the room we opened a bottle of red wine I had bought when I got the fruit. It was foul although Karen still drank it.
So today we liked Rio. We realise we have done and seen things in the wrong order. Seeing the centre made us feel better about the place (although Karen still doesn’t like the heat). It was also good to meet up with some fellow travellers including for the first time this trip some other Brits who also said they wished they were staying in the centre rather than near the beach.
Today was a good day.