Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
I started my day with a tasty grain-free breakfast at the rooftop restaurant at my hotel. The range and quality of fruits was excellent and I greatly enjoyed both the meal and the breathtaking view. I’ve mostly eaten a grain-free diet on this trip but it’s tricky on business trips due to the propensity for sandwiches to be served for lunch. Breakfast buffets are generally easy to navigate because even if there’s nothing much more than grains there’s always yoghurt and I’ve brought Vital Greens sachets with me so I mix that in with yoghurt and eat that.
A friend had given me tips on what to do and see in Rio in my limited time here so I checked Trip Advisor and decided to head straight to Cristo Redentor. I asked at the hotel desk for advice and was told to catch a cab to Cosme Velho then take a minibus to the top because the queue would be too long for the train. The cab ride was fast and cheap at only 20 reals, well worth the time saving compared to figuring out the bus system in my opinion. On arriving at Cosme Velho I couldn’t find the minibus ticket queue but instead joined the short queue for train tickets. I was allocated tickets for the 9:20 train but I hung around the entrance as the 9:00 train was preparing to depart and the ticket collector allowed me to board that one instead.
The train took 30 minutes to climb the steep mountain, winding through gorgeous lush rainforest. I sat on the right and had excellent views over Ipanema Beach as we climbed and climbed. At Corcovado Station, at the top, I walked up the stairs and took in the amazing 360 degree views over Rio. Enchantingly the harbour was shrouded in mist but everywhere else was crystal clear. It really is an exceptionally beautiful view with incredible mountains popping up out of the coastal plain everywhere that one looks. The statue of Christ was amazing to behold and very clean thanks to the work being done by Pirelli to restore it.
I spent 20 minutes looking at the view and then didn’t see any point in staying longer so I rushed back to the station and just made it in time to board the 9:50 train back down the mountain. At the bottom I found a long queue and realised that the hotel staff had been right except that I arrived there early enough that it wasn’t a problem for me. I found a cab and went from there to the Botanic Gardens of Rio which had been recommended to me by a client. I went to the gift shop and picked up a free history trail map in English. I wandered around the gardens on my own, following the trail and reading about the features of historical significance in the gardens.
I was surprised to see more than 6 different heavily pregnant women with their stomachs fully exposed posing for photographs with their partners. I suppose this must be a popular place for expectant mothers to go and have final photos taken before their babies arrive. I also saw a few well dressed couples having photos taken, presumably to announce their engagements. Also there was a model in the Japanese garden having a great deal of trouble walking on towering platform shoes. A bit disturbingly I also saw more than 6 different girls from pre-teen to teen in age dressed up and posing for photos and with an entourage and changes of outfits in bulging suitcases. Some of the outfits and poses were quite adult and I felt uncomfortable for the situation. I’m not sure if it’s for a significant birthday, or a portfolio or just for fun but I would have hoped for more innocence for those girls.
After a short rest in the sun I headed back to Ipanema in a cab and went to a restaurant that’s very near my hotel, well rated on Trip Advisor and serves local food. I sat there in calm silence and ate 3 different tasty local dishes and had 2 beers. Afterwards I walked along Ipanema beach marvelling at the version of beach volleyball being played that doens’t allow hands to be used. I wandered around the headland with dozens of other people. I bought a pair of earrings from a Chileno man and had a quick chat with him. When I couldn’t find my way to Copacabana Beach I backtracked to find the Chileno man again and asked him in Spanish for directions. He very kindly showed me the way in person!
Copacabana Beach was cool in the setting sun and sea breeze and almost deserted. Compared to the thronging, pulsating Ipanema Beach I was surprised to see it so empty. I walked back to Ipanema beach reflecting on the obvious patriotism that is on display in Rio. I don’t know if it’s always this way or if it’s because of the FIFA world cup that’s starting in mid June but there is a lot of green and gold on display. When I see overt patriotism in Australia I cringe because of the likelihood of a red-neck accompanying such a display but here it seems to be more widespread and without the ugly right-wing element that can make partiotism so unappealing. I was feeling pretty cool so I stopped at a bar and sat blissfully alone, ate a small meal of garlic prawns, drank a few beers and read my book. All in all it was a lovely day in Rio and I can imagine living here would be quite comfortable.