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1 - The Road to Iguacu

2 - Iguassu Falls Nat'l Park

3 - Macuco Boat Safari

4 - Iguazu Falls Rest.

5 - Foz Tropicana Aviary

6 - Rafain Churrascaria

7 - The Road to Noronha

8 - Fernando de Noronha

9 - Sueste Bay Snorkeling

10 - Farewell to Fernando

11 - The Road to Rio

12 - The Hippie Market

13 - Sugar Loaf Mountain

14 - Copacabana Palace

15 - Too Much Gluten

16 - Botanical Gardens

17 - Buzios

18 - Copacabana

19 - Ipanema Beach

20 - Plataforma Show

21 - Corcovado Mountain

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Introduction to Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro

Iguassu Falls

Fernando de Noronha

Scuba Diving


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Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro Brazil..

We eat a typical Swedish breakfast on our balcony, taking note of the heavily overcast skies - a drastic departure from the bright sunshine we'd experienced the previous day.  At 9:00AM, we meet our guide for the week, Marcelo Esteves.  Bertil and Kicki had taken a tour already before we arrived, with a different guide (also booked through Luiz Amaral), to Petropolis, the former home of King Pedro II.  They couldn't stop raving about the guide and the tour - they had a great time.

Marcelo is very friendly and outgoing, full of information about the city of Rio de Janeiro. 


He escorts us in his own Citroen, comfortable for the five of us, to Sugar Loaf Mountain, after courtesy stops at Citibank for us to take out cash, and at Rio Apartments for Bertil to charge his phone (it was 220V, so it didn't work at the apartment).  At Sugar Loaf Mountain, we board the famous cable car that will take us up to the first of two mountains (after a $35BR per person Entry Fee).  As we arrive at the top of the first mountain, the clouds obscure almost the entire view, which we can tell would have been tremendous. 


Marcelo informs us of the history of Sugar Loaf and describes what views we have as we board the second cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  The view from the cable car must be fantastic, though ours is very limited due to the clouds below us.  Occasionally they split, giving us panoramic views of all of Rio de Janeiro, far below us, only to form again and take it away.  At the top, after enjoying what views the clouds allow us to have, we take a little nature walk along a paved trail through the surrounding jungle.  We see beautiful banana trees and other tropical foliage, and we find a group of Marmosets (small monkeys with long ringed tails and really big eyes), in a tree as we walk back up.  There are six or seven of them within six feet of us, and we enjoy watching them for a while before heading back to the top.

At Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro
At the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.

After exploring the overpriced gift shop (Marcelo tells us where we can find the same items at better prices, and later shows us where they were - the difference was quite astounding), we have espresso and then head down to the bottom, where we begin our tour of Historical Rio de Janeiro.

The next portion of our tour takes us to the artsy community of Santa Teresa.  Built on a hill, the primary form of transportation for this area is by old trolley, which runs up and down the hill all day long.  Marcelo takes us by car through the community, as we're running late and I'm supposed to go hang gliding today after the tour.  He points out various famous people's homes, shows us the surrounding favelas, and explains to us the history and culture of the area.

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro Brazil
A look at the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio.

We stop the car, and have lunch at Sobrenatural, a great little restaurant where we have some excellent Bahia-influenced fish dishes and excellent appetizers.  A Bahian lady comes by selling necklaces, which Sandra and Kicki gobble up.  We watch several tourists get off the trolley and come inside, along with a few locals. 

After lunch, we go next door to a little artsy shop, where they sell some of the same items we had seen at the Sugar Loaf gift shop for a fraction of the price.  Marcelo explains about the art on the walls, made by another local tour guide in Rio as Sandra and Kicki browse the shop.

Now, we were to ride the trolley down the hill, but in an effort to make the hang gliding that day, we pass it up and drive downtown for the Historical Rio tour (we would later postpone the hang gliding for another day, as we were having too good of a time on the tour).

For the next portion of our tour, we drive down to Centro, where Marcelo shows us three important churches in downtown Rio de Janeiro - the first an incredible Catholic cathedral named #, that we're told took 80 years to build.  Inside the cathedral is more impressive than it even is outside with beautiful carvings and stained glass.  Next is a Presbyterian Church, an unusual sight as over 90% of Brazil is Catholic.  The church is a traditional Presbyterian-style cathedral - beautiful on the outside, more simple on the inside.  The third church, the Cathedral of San Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro, is a unique conical shape that is much less impressive inside than out.

Cathedral of San Sebastian Rio de Janeiro Brazil
The San Sebastian Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro..
Coffee at Columbo Coffee House, Rio de Janeiro
Enjoying a great cup of coffee at  Columbo Coffee House.

Next stop is the Saara shopping area, where there are seemingly endless shops and a huge amount of people.  The shops mostly sell knock-offs of everything from designer shoes and handbags to CDs, DVDs, and Software.  These are incredibly cheap - such as 3 CDs for $4 USD, and major software titles for just a few dollars.  "Nike" shoes can be less than $10 USD.  It seems everything is inexpensive in this area - as we walk through the streets, we're handed flyers that advertise sex for $10BR (about $4 USD)!

Marcelo shows us the Columbo Coffee House, which he says is the best coffee in Rio.  The place is amazing - absolutely beautiful. 

We are all impressed with the fine decor, and the cappucino is absolutely the best we've ever had.  After coffee, we continue walking through the downtown shopping area, filled with people and mid-to-high-end shops (we're out of the knock-off area now).  It's closed to traffic, and is a fun place to walk and see people.  We return to the car, and back to the apartment.

Tired from a full day of touring, we decide to stay in and make pasta at home that evening.  Tomorrow is our anniversary, so we want to be fresh.

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