Wednesday, 28 February 2018


If you followed closely my recounting of our 2017 holiday, you might think that we crammed a lot of stops into it and you will be right.  Up until this point, we have been travelling for 4 weeks and could have easily call Havana our last stop and return home but then we had a different idea and here is why.

The truth of the matter was that my husband and I planned a trip to Brazil and Argentina two years ago but as we were about to pay for the tickets, my husband had to undergo massive heart surgery and, of course, the whole trip had to be cancelled.  We tried to go the year after but we couldn't find travel insurance that would cover both of us while in South America.
Rio de Janeiro at a glance
When we had almost mapped our regular annual holiday last year, we thought why not try our luck and see if we could score travel insurance for South America this time.  Luckily, we did and since 2017 marked our 10th wedding anniversary, it seem obvious that a trip to South America, just to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, should be added to our itinerary.  We called it a gift from ourselves to ourselves.
My older daughter had been to Brazil a couple of times and although she had marvellous time, she also warned us that it could be quite dangerous in some places even during the day so we should only chose to go to the places that are safe to visit day or night.  I assured her that we will be very careful and mindful of our whereabouts.
After hours of perusing various hotel sites, we settled for Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana, offering breathtaking views over the city and Atlantic Ocean, close proximity to the airport and its own private beach just meters away from the famous Copacabana Beach.   It looked very modern and comfortable at the same time, its aesthetics highlighted by the extensive use of timber and other natural materials incorporating new eco-technologies whenever possible.
Once settled and unpacked, we went out to explore the neighbourhood.  We took a long stroll along the beachfront which was stretched for miles and miles ahead of us with the smart-looking apartment blocks, hotels and restaurants on one side and a beach occupied by a multitude of people on the other.  Everywhere we looked the sand was covered with colourful umbrellas, tents and beach chairs occupied by tanned beach goers with street vendors darting from one tent to another selling their modest offerings ranging from cold drinks to snacks and everything in between.
It was getting dark and following my daughter's instructions not to walk along the beach after sunset, we returned to the hotel.

The next day was dedicated to sightseeing.  Traditionally, we love to explore a new city from the rooftop of Hop-on, Hop-off tour bus but couldn't find one in Rio and after consulting with the hotel's concierge, opted for the next available option, a private tour.  We met our tour guide, named Bruno, early in the morning and after a quick exchange of pleasantries, we established that he was going to drive us to the most iconic landmarks of the city and would do his best to cram as much as possible in our scheduled 4-hour tour.
With that, we set off to our first stop, Sugarloaf Mountain.  While our car was speeding up along the coast passing by the world famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Bruno explained to us that the the reason the mountain is called Sugarloaf is because its shape resembles the traditional shape of concentrated refine loaf sugar.

The day was quite hot but the ride in the cable car to the top was quite exciting allowing us to watch the mountain looming towards us at different angles but it was not until we reached the top, that we could appreciate the panoramic view of the city sprawling all around us in all its glory.

The next landmark that Bruno took us to see was the statue of Christ the Redeemer.  Created  by the French sculptor in an Art Deco style, a symbol of Christianity across the world, this colossal statue of Jesus has also become a cultural icon of both, Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
It is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World .
At first, we couldn't understand why there were so many young people lying on small black mats all over the viewing platform, it was bizarre.  Then it dawned on us that due to its height, in order to capture the Redeemer in his full glory together with the person posing in front of it, you can only do it by lying down flat the floor, that explained it.   Being young at heart, I couldn't help but follow suit.
It was fun despite the fact the I was totally blinded by the bright afternoon sun and couldn't aim my camera properly
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

Unfortunately, our tour time was up and we had to return to the hotel, leaving the rest till tomorrow.

Until then
Enjoy reading

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