Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rio de Janeiro

This week we went to Rio de Janeiro. We left on Friday. No one was there to pick us up so we took a bus to get close to our hotel then a taxi to the hotel.
Floats for Carnaval in storage
Monument in downtown Rio
We stayed in the Americana Copacabana Hotel, which was a few blocks from the beach. We caught a quick lunch around the corner from the hotel.

Quick lunch spot
 We then went down to Copacabana beach, the most famous beach in Brazil. It is lined with hotels, has a wide walkway, and a lot of sand so the sun worshipers are a ways from the walkway. There are a lot of small eating places, sand sculptures, and sports along the beach.
The famous Copacabana walkway
Sand castle
Playing a new sport like bad-mitten with a ball
 When we got to the end of Copacabana beach we found an old fort turned into a military museum.called Forte de Copacabana. It was very interesting.
Fort Copacabana with a helicopter landing
Sister Cannoneer
View of Sugar Loaf from the fort
Gateway to the fort
Fort artillery
A short walk from the fort is Ipanema, a beach made famous by the Bossa Nova song "Girl from Ipanema" written by Tom Jobim. The beach is much narrower and not as nice as Copacabana.

Paul with his friend Tom Jobim
The Girl from Iponema
We returned to the hotel tired after a long walk.

Saturday was our tour day. We made arrangements at the hotel for a driver who took us around the sights of Rio. We started by going to Corcovado, the mountain containing the statue of Christ - Cristo Redentor. This meant a ride downtown, getting tickets at a a praça called Lago do Marchado then a van ride up the mountain. It was really crowded because the area is quite small and a lot of people are trying to see the statue at the same time.
Cristo Redentor from our hotel room window
Going up the stairs to the Cristo
O Cristo Redentor
View of Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado
 I stopped by Rio on my way back from my mission and remember the aquaduct.
Passing through the Arcos de Lapa
 We went downtown to see the Metropolitan Cathedral. It reminded us of the cathedral in Brasília. It was very nice inside.
Metropolitan Cathedral
Inside the cathedral
One of the places I wanted to see was the national fine arts museum, since Rio was the art center of Brazil duing the 19th century. There really wasn´t much to see of Brazilian art;

Museu Nacional de Bellas Artes
Statues in the museum
 Right across the street was the Municipal Theater.
Teatro Municipal
The director
 We then went to see Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf) mountain, another icon of Rio. When I was there 50 years ago I met some sailors on top of Sugar Loaf. I greeted them in Portuguese (no response), then in German (no response), finally one of them asked, "Do you speak English?". I responded, "A little". They were from Poland. I felt bad that they had to speak my language to communicate. This time it happened again, except it was a nice couple from the Czech Republic. There is a lot more room on top of the mountain so it was much more peaceful than Corcovado.
View of Pão de Açucar
Riding the gondola
View from Morro da Urca, the half way mark
A walk through the Atlantic rain forest on top of the mountain
 We had been trying to contact Daniel, the Counsel Technology Specialist for Rio, without success. We finally got a call when we were on top of Corcovado to set up a meeting with him for Saturday evening and with the other technology specialists for Sunday evening. We took the metro from a stop close to our hotel to the Botofogo Ward building where we had our training meetings and church on Sunday.
Daniel, our CTS getting ready for the meeting
STS training (including one stake president)
It was very interesting in our hotel because there were teams from several countries training for the Olympics. We saw teams from Belarus, Germany, Austria, Israel, Portugal, and the gymnastics team from Romania. 
Austrian Olympics team
German gymnastics team
Monday was our day to visit chapels with the FM. We were to leave at 8 am, but didn´t get picked up until about 9:30 am. While waiting we made friends with some tourists from France who were also waiting for their tour to pick them up.

French friends ready for the beach
Arnoldo, one of the FMs from Rio
 While at one of the churches some young people from a school stopped by and offered to do work to raise money for the school. Arnaldo gave them kitchen duty. It was good to see Brazilian youth willing to work.
Working youth
Lunch with the FMs, Arnaldo and Jackson
 The highlight was stopping at the Rio de Janeiro temple lot. They are waiting for municipal approval before they can have the ground breaking. The lot looks like a sand dune, but also has a nature preserve with a lot of unique plants. The church will preserve the preserve.
Temple lot for the Rio de Janeiro temple
One of the many plants to be preserved
Colored seeds from the nature preserve
A couple at the temple lot
Tuesday we didn´t have anything planned so we decided to take a tour of Petrópolis, the city emperor Pedro II made his summer home. It is a 2-hour bus ride into the mountains close to Rio de Janeiro. It was a good break away from the city.
Ritzy hotel in Petrópolis
Summer palace of Pedro II
The queen
 We went to a traditional Brazilian buffet for lunch.
Lunch time
 We then went to St. Peter´s to see where Pedro II´s family was buried.
St Peters
Alternate transportation
What´s left of the royal family
 We went to see the house and model of an airplane of an early Brazilian aviator who won a flying contest in France.
It can´t carry all of our luggage back home
Someone to look up to
 We then went to the Crystal Palace where royalty held fancy parties, including one for former slaves after slavery was abolished.
Crystal Palace
This was a very nice city to visit. There are many more things we did not have time to see.

On Wednesday we had a later flight so we went to see the Botanical Garden, Which was created by João VI, king of Portugal who fled to Brazil while Napoleon was taking over Portugal. The Portuguese Kingdom was run from Brazil for 13 years until João VI returned to Portugal leaving his son to rule Brazil (who declared Brazil independent from Portugal becoming Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil).

Giant water lilies of the Amazons
Fountain in the park
In the wilds

 Rio de Janeiro is a big city full of confusion (not as much as during Carnaval), but it is a beautiful city with a lot of special landmarks to see. I am glad we were able to see it.

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