Sunday, March 8th, 2015. This morning we had not booked a tour so we (Adrienne and I) went ashort to the pier to see if we could book a tour…..a tour that included Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer and Sugsr Loaf Mountain. We found one on the pier at a reasonable price that also included seeing the beaches (praisas)…….Cococabana, Ipanema and Leblon…..we had seen them the day before so didn’t need to go back but it was included. We stopped at the Sambadrome, where the Carnival parade is held. The stands hold 72,000 people. We also stopped for a few minutes to see the Mario Filho Stadium where (1958-62) World Cup Soccer is/was held. We then proceeded to go to Corcovado (as far as I can gather, is the name of the mountain that the Christ statue is perched on. It is very, very high up so it takes one tour van, then you get out, get tickets, get in line, take another van, then walk up and up. OMG! When you get up to it, it is truely amazing. So humongous…..30 metres high. You just have no idea. The look on the face of Christ…..it almost brought tears to my eyes. It so difficult to get a good picture cuz it is so huge. And the view from there….amazing. Rio is so beautiful….and huge…….7 million people. Because we took a little longer than I guess we should have, our guide Marcia said we wouldn’t be able to make it to Sugar Loaf and get back to our ship by 4 (actually we needed to be back on board by 4:30 but you need to add a little time in case of problems. One does not want to have to fly to the next port at your own cost. When Marcia (said Massia) saw how important it was for me because that was one of 2 reasons we took this tour, she made it happen. The deal was that we had to run once we got to it…..us 2 only and her. The others (they were all from the other ship that was in port) just wanted to go to the beach and eat. At the last minute a woman on our tour that had mobility issues, decided she wanted to come too. Oh my, did that throw Marcia into a tizzy. Away we went. It wasn’t a great distance to Sugar Loaf but you have to get in line to purchase tickets for 2 gondola rides and then we had to run between first and second sections. The disabled lady decided that she only wanted to go to the the first level (a rise of 232 metres) and that she and her adult son would wait while we ran to the next gondola ride, at which point the gondola takes you another rise of 398 metres. We made it up…..again breathtaking views, took pictures, left after about 5 minutes, back down to meet the other two only to find that they were no where to be found. OMG, that poor girl Marcia was beside herself. She sent us with the driver to the pier then he had to come back for her and hopefully the other two and then go back for the remainder of the tour passengers to have them back to their ship by 5. She went above and beyond and Adrienne and I got to see all that we wanted. On that tour I had befriended the daughter of the disabled lady. She was from near Sao Paulo. Lovely, lovely person. We will be Facebook friends. She also invited me to come stay at her home. Nice!
We set sail, crossing under the longest span bridge in the southern hemisphere…..and then turning around and going back under it, then heading out of this beautifl, magnificent harbour with all those places that we had seen in the last day and a half……… from a different viewpoint. The Christ was lit a sort of a pick colour, the beaches and Sugar Loaf. Wow, wow, wow!!! And the sunset. Incredible!
The next 2 days were at sea. Finally we get to sleep in…….but not for long. I have been meeting Pamella for laps around the deck every morning as a way of keeping the weight gain down…… somewhat. The food….well what can I say. Beautiful and waaaaay too much. One evening we went up to the Horizons lounge, a sort of dico bar area that is used for many functions including high tea. I ordered a glass of red wine. I expected that it would not be cheap but I was not expecting US$17.88. Actually the wine itself was 12 something but a gratuity is automatically added PLUS a 25% Brazillian tax like HST, is added to everything we purchase, on ship or land. And we think we have it bad in Canada. Needless to say there will be NO purchases, alchohol or otherwise, until we get out of Brazillian waters. I overheard one clerk in the boutique say to a custommer ” If you like, we can hold this for you but will not charge it to your card until we are out of Brazillian waters”. There is always another route around things like this.
Day 5, March11, 2015…. we arrived in Recife, said Hecife. Portugese sound “r” like an “h”. Another humoungous city. None of us were expecting that. I would say hundreds of thousands of residential skyscrapers. I have never seen anything quite like this. Gerry, Margrit, Sylvia and I rented a taxi with driver for 3 + hours. He took us all to Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It really is quite something. I think the cathedral was built in 1580’s and the city was inhabited some time before. It is truly worth visiting. Washington, our guide drove us through the older part of down town (It is just somewhat run down and dirty) but not the same as what they call “Old Town” which we later visited. That was awesome as well. (It is very old but not like Olinda). That is where “Mile Zero” (the most eastern most point in South America) and where my phone decided it didn’t have anymore room for pictures so of course I didn’t get any. Our guide also took us by the beach…….a very long stretch. I don’t know how many miles long it is so I am going to guess at atleast 25miles. On the beach there are signs and flags to indicate there are sharks in the waters. There are times of ther year when it is worse and there are things and activities that bring them and cause them to attack. There were not any people in the water except one lonely fisherman casting out. Looking down the beach, again I was struck with how many highrises there are……massive numbers. FYI, Recife is known as the Venice of Brazil because there are over 50 bridges crossings
Now we have 2 days cruising the Atlantic Ocean and today, Friday the 13th, we crossed the Equator. They “polliwogs” had to kiss the fish and then get christened with some green liquid stuff so that King Poseiden could go back to the sea and we would be allowed to proceed. Yuk! Sorry not for me. Gerry, Penny and Aurelea were brave and did it. Tomorrow the 14th, we enter the Amazon River. Apparently we have to have permission to enter the Amazon.