I can’t believe we only have two ports left before we are back to the United States. It’s finally starting to hit me that this amazing voyage is almost over and pretty soon I’ll be back in Minnesota shoveling snow in the cold. As excited I am to be reunited with my friends and family, I’m not quite ready for this journey to end.
Rio was indescribable. For years I had dreamed of visiting this vibrant city and seeing Christ the Redeemer in person. I was amazed with everything I experienced while there. My roommate and I prepared for the port by waking up every morning for a week to “Take You to Rio” by the one and only Justin Bieber. Everyone on the ship was excited for this port.
The first day my friend and I signed up for a SAS trip before getting off the ship. We went and visited a favela, which are equivalent to shantytowns in Rio. I was surprised by how packed the houses were and how close the living quarters were. They were built into a mountain that overlooked Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. It was a beautiful view. It was interesting to see how the people in the favela live. To get to their homes from the bottom of the mountain there is a cable car that is free to them and drops them off at different stops on the hill. They are able to bring their groceries up on them and it makes it a little easier for them to access their homes. Just our luck, the cable car was broken: so we got around the hard way by taking the stairs. We got to fully experience what it would be like for them without the cable car in the high 90-degree weather! We visited the favela Santa Marta, which is also the first pacified favela. They have three police stations- one at every entrance- and that has helped reduce the crime and drugs within the community. Michael Jackson shot his music video for “They Don’t Care About Us” in the favela. They have a square dedicated to him with a mural and statue. We went in a little store that sold a bunch of Michael Jackson items, which was interesting. When we got back down to the bottom of the hill we ate a delicious local meal. We spent time talking to the guides who grew up in Rio and learned a little more about what life is like there. On the way back to the ship we went to a Hippie Market on Copacabana beach. I’m not exactly sure why it’s called a Hippie Market but it is always fun to check out local markets and see what they sell. For dinner that night, all of my friends and I went out and ate on the beach. There was live music and locals singing. It was a really fun night.
Michael Jackson square in Santa Marta
Out for dinner
The rest of our time in Rio we spent doing tourist activities. My other friends had a great taxi drive the first day and they offered to show us around the rest of our trip. Alejandre picked us up at 8am and took us first to Christ the Redeemer. Christ the Redeemer was one of the places on my bucket list and it was my favorite place in Rio. He drove us up the mountain to the place where we bought tickets. Then we had a van take us the rest of the way up to the statue. Words can’t even describe how big the statue is. We spent about an hour just walking around taking pictures. They had a little chapel at the top and lots of gift shops. Alejandre told us he wanted to take us into Tijuca rainforest and show us the waterfalls, after he took us on a little nature hike through the forest. It was interesting communicating with him because he only speaks Portuguese. For the most part we could communicate through broken Spanish but it was difficult at times. We ate lunch at a little restaurant in the forest. It was a cute little place but also had us worried if anyone had eaten there in years. It turned out being pretty good and we had local food. After lunch we went to Sugarloaf Mountain and took the cable car up to the top. It had the perfect view. It was Alejandre’s first time going to the top of the mountain after growing up in Rio so it was a fun experience for us all!
Christ the Redeemer
Waterfall in Tijuca Forest
All of us with Alejandre
That night we went to a Brazilian steakhouse, which was phenomenal. It was amazing how much food they gave us. It was exactly like Fogo de Chao in the US. They came around with different meats on the skewers and then would just cut off a chunk for you. No one left hungry, that’s for sure! Rio was an exciting city and definitely one I would love to come back to! Next we are off down the Amazon River into Manaus! I never imagined I would ever be visiting the Amazon Rainforest!