TOTAL KM 3964
5 FEBRUARY FRIDAY? km 60
We finally leave? Destination Brazil? Given the good weather and the high temperatures that await us, we brought two suitcases but not overcrowded as always? Once again the tickets were booked online and we had no problems checking into the airport.
I left Venice my husband Sandro and my children Alessio of 8 and Mattia of 10? We took advantage of the carnival bridge? Even if for us the bridge will be? two weeks long?
The flight from Venice with Iberia? left at 8.45 and? lasted two and a half hours with a stopover in Madrid. I talked all the time with another bicycle enthusiast traveler who? already? been a couple of times in Brazil, cos? I asked for practical information about the streets and the locals.
The time of stopover? flown and a quarter to twelve we left for Rio de Janeiro whose flight? lasted 11 hours? Unfortunately for the children there were no viewers on the seats to pass the time so? they dozed off. In Rio it was 19pm local time, five hours shorter than in Italy, and the sun was still high outside.
Handled the formalities? customs quickly enough we collected your bags without delay. We immediately headed to the localiza rent a car desk where I had booked the car from home online. As a navigator they gave me a mobile phone that I did not accept why? did not take anything (in fact we went back three times?) until? they gave me a normal navigator with which we found ourselves immediately? in tune? even if the hotel of the first nights is not? been able to locate it? The car ? a basic Fiat where the two suitcases are standing and therefore they can be seen from the outside, not an optimal choice ?.
To drive in Brazil you need an international license with the 1968 Vienna Convention? Not the 1949 Geneva one, it is valid for three years and costs 42 euros.
Between one practice and the next, a line of people waiting to pick up the car, we finally got onto the Brazilian roads which were ten in the evening? The main problem? been out of the airport area and take the right road without making the mistake of junctions, exits or crossroads? Would it have been fatal? wherever there was crazy chaos related to carnival, the streets were clogged with cars, people walking in the middle, with vendors of drinks or snacks and mopeds playing and zigzagging through the traffic? been set still with the precise position why? did not recognize the area? we had to leave Rio for about fifty kilometers? .but all the way? was a nightmare, we proceeded at a man's pace and we were frightened why? we were in a not very recommendable area ?? Was it a really nerve-wracking situation after twenty hours of travel?. with time zone and accumulated fatigue? without counting the oppressive heat and the first contact with the new world at night and in absolute chaos? without the navigator who gave us the certainty of finding ourselves on the right path was anguish hanging over us? did we even think we had passed the hotel without realizing it? would it have been impossible to go back with the traffic frozen?. At two in the morning we finally found the hotel thanks to the indications of the locals ?.
On our arrival the hotel was completely dark, we thought it was closed? .Or uninhabited? I bravely got out of the car and went to the entrance ringing a bell?. Was the hotel new, was it an Ibis from the well-known hotel chain? when I had confirmation that our reservation was fine, I called Sandro and the children who unloaded the luggage?. they assigned us two connecting rooms, so? Sandro and I split up the children? finally we settled down and felt safe? as a first impact of Brazil? Was it hard?. at night, on unfamiliar streets without a navigator and in the middle of carnival with people everywhere and blocked traffic?
Thinking positively, a night's sleep could only improve the situation? And every problem would surely be faced with a clear head tomorrow?
6 FEBRUARY SATURDAY km 134
At half past six I woke up like this? we got ready to go down for breakfast which was included in the room price? .We were in Itaborai a locality? 50 km from Rio de Janeiro, the choice? was forced why? we were in the middle of the Carnival period and the prices were skyrocketing? and the hotels were already? all booked although I was activated in advance, is not there? was nothing to do? .We would have really risked sleeping, who knows? where if i had not booked this hotel outside the center?. also this ibis hotel was new and had all the comforts and safety that the situation required, despite being in a popular area? really this hotel on pi? modern floors clash with the surrounding environment.
After a Brazilian breakfast with typical fruit we organized ourselves for the day with the nightmare of having to deal with the crazy traffic of the night just passed? But surprise, apart from the small traffic jams we quickly arrived at the Costa e Silva Presidents Bridge over the bay that leads in Rio de Janeiro?
The bridge ? with four lanes for each direction of travel and? for a fee and? better to have coins.
The Brazilian currency? the Brazilian Real whose exchange? 4 real for about one euro.
Unfortunately our optimism came to a halt once we got off the bridge and onto the Rio freeways? The traffic was 'paralyzed' with mopeds whizzing everywhere? We were really on edge? For the rented car? It was a day of celebration carnival and everywhere there were parades?. And of course, although it was only ten in the morning there were already? about thirty degrees and a lot of humidity? the sky was a bit? covered. In the meantime, the navigator has begun to do his duty and took us to the first destination of the day?. Despite attempts to mislead people who put themselves with signs in hand to divert tourists to other attractions on which they earned money.
We climbed Corcovado (which means 'hunchback' in Portuguese), a 709 meter high mountain from which you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city. of Rio. And it is located in the Tijuca National Park.
Can you? reach it with an asphalted road in the middle of the forest or with an electric train.
Once parked along the road full of hairpin bends (do you pay the parking attendants something?) You have to buy the ticket and take the minibuses that take you to the top why? there are not many pitches to put the car in? and go up another 215 steps?. are there also escalators? needless to say? full of people?. so you have to evaluate when? better to get on it? usually early in the morning?
Christ the Redeemer? 30 meters high other 8 of the pedestal. The opening of the arms wide open? of 28 meters. The art-deco statue? ? was it built in 1926 and 1931? became the symbol of the fight against communism. Since 2007 it has been part of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Unfortunately we had a problem with money. To be safe, I left my credit card at the hotel and took away only the ATM which unfortunately was blocked? (Before leaving I had been to the bank to make sure that everything worked and instead of unlocking the cards were they blocked?). Fortunately, when we arrived at the airport, we changed 100 euros to have cash in our pockets, especially for the motorway and tolls? Now we found ourselves unable to use the card?. have we been all day with the money counted? did we notice it immediately when paying the ticket to climb Corcovado?. needless to say that we have straightened our hair at the news? .and for this reason and the tiredness of the I'm still traveling on my shoulders are we really stressed ?.
The view from the top anyway? spectacular, can you really see the whole city? with the various beaches, neighborhoods and mountains?. too bad the haze of the day?
A little? pi? at the bottom there is another panoramic point, the Mirante Dona Marta, a platform 385 meters high which can be reached by passing through a grove from which to see the whole city? for free?
Back in the car we took stock of the situation? No money? we decided to go to Ipanema on the beach. We have for? parked the car in an internal area and with a taxi we reached it. The promenade was full of cars and then there were carnival parades scheduled so it was better to avoid complicating our lives by looking for parking spaces? Also we went to a shopping center to try again to get money out of the ATM? But nothing (we didn't know with certain that the problem was the blocked card..we thought they were the ATMs not enabled for that card)?
We tried to play down and think positively? But the stress of shooting with money didn't let us go ?.
Ipanema? one of the main beaches in Rio,? divided into Postos (zones) which reflect the various social strata. Seat 9? nicknamed Garota of Ipanema? where you can admire the bodies pi? sinuous and tanned of Rio.
To the Ipanema neighborhood and beach? dedicated the famous Garota de Ipanema (the girl from Ipanema), one of the most? famous songs of the musical movement Bossa Nova. Mina also interpreted it? a famous version.
Seat 9? also called elephant cemetery why? ? the meeting place of old hippies and leftist sympathizers. The area in front of Rua Farme de Amodeo the beach? called Bolsa de Valores and? the gay section. Seat 8? the kingdom of the children of the favelas. On the whole beach at regular intervals there are kiosks where to eat and drink especially the Caipirinha? But everywhere on the beach are there vendors of food and drinks or clothing that go by all the time?
The Caipirinha? the typical cocktail of Brazil and? based on cachaca (a distillate made from sugar cane), cane sugar, lime and ice. A derivative? vodka-based caipiroska. Good? also strawberry caipirinha? or other tropical fruits.
As soon as the children saw the very high waves, they jumped into it and were in the water all the time, but you need to be very careful why? there are strong currents that drag off, very often the locals warned them to be careful and not to risk? things that I continued already? to say me without being heard? Having had the money in our pocket we would have indulged ourselves to taste all the delicacies that the street vendors offered, such as shrimp skewers or fish cooked on boxes that they carried around the beach, or go for it with the typical drinks? we were satisfied with a fresh coconut to drink?. despite the tiredness the desire to see was very so? did we walk the entire length of the beach over 2.5 km? one way?
We reached the Pedra do Arpoador, a promontory that divides Ipanema from Copacabana. The red rock promontory? also a park with paths from which to admire the various points of view on both beaches. Local children are used to diving into the rocks and many try their hand at fishing. Everywhere there are guardians who check that people are not in danger, especially deriving from thefts or attacks for which we felt safe to shoot alone? I was on my own doing filming? The tourists to tell the truth were not many why? most are limited to the beach of the numerous hotels where they stay overnight?. of course you must always be careful and not go around with your head in the clouds,? it is necessary to always be aware of where you are and to have eyes behind your head too? .but you must not always be suspicious, in any case what is important? not to show off jewelery or accessories that are attractive to offenders?
Before leaving home, did I inquire about the Rio carnival? First of all it must be clarified that the classic carnival that you always see on television takes place in a special structure, the Sambodromo, where the magnificent and pharaonic carnival floats parade with all the people with amazing costumes hanging around town instead there are the neighborhood parades called Blocos. A calendar with all the times you can? also consult online and decide cos? which one to participate in and how to organize to achieve it. We were in Ipanema so? at four we headed to the waterfront from where the block or the parade started? Each neighborhood has its own block with a defined route and specially closed streets? there are not many people in costume, everyone follows a chariot that proceeds with deafening music and people join in dancing and drinking at will? in joy?. and of course we did not miss the opportunity to participate too, I in particular had also fueled myself with a caipirinha that had put wings on my feet and made cheer spurt from every pore so much was it alcoholic ?. you still had to be careful not to lose the children and keep them close why? were there such narrow passages where you were totally crushed by the crowd? .. the children weren't traumatized at all, they had fun too?.? it was a good experience to be among the Brazilian people, around there were very few tourists?
Tired we walked back to the car that was parked near the lagoa (lagoa) de Freitas, continuing to try to withdraw money from the ATMs? With no results?. Here we really realized that the problem was our ATM card and not his. ATMs ?.
The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas? a brackish inland lake connected to the sea by a canal. Its circumference? of 7.4 km and? also practicable with the cycle path. The weekend? very popular for activity? outdoors and where to practice rowing or sailing. It is flanked by parks and football stadiums such as Flamengo (one of the main teams in the city along with Botafogo and Fluminense), and the huge jockey stadium clearly visible from Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado.
Resuming the road to the hotel in Itaborai fifty km from Rio, we had the pleasant surprise of not finding traffic jams like the previous evening - and in an hour we returned to the hotel where we parked. Taken the credit card in the room and we ventured on the main road in search of a restaurant where to have dinner since the choice was not lacking? To test the credit card first we went to a supermarket to get something and then with the certainty that everything if it worked we headed to a restaurant that inspired us? and we weren't wrong? could we finally breathe a sigh of relief and be satisfied with our first day in Brazil?
7 FEBRUARY SUNDAY km 219
Did we all get up red like roasted peppers this morning? Were yesterday's few hours on the beach enough to knock us out? The children had swollen faces and were they sore from the giant waves in which they dived?
Given the great confusion for the highlight of the carnival in Rio, we decided to change the program and give ourselves a day in a more pleasant environment. quiet and relaxing. Direction mountains in a locality? elected by the Brazilian sovereigns as a summer residence?
After another hearty breakfast at the hotel we left for the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgaos with peaks reminiscent of the organ pipes of churches? Very suggestive if it were not for the low cloud cover that covered them when we passed along the road very scenic with hairpin bends. Here there is an Atlantic forest rich in exotic species and animals of all kinds. Many paths lead inside the park where you can see spectacular waterfalls.
Us for? we only went through it why? going into it meant staying there all day. We continued passing through Teresopolis from the name of Empress Teresa Cristina wife of Peter II, King of Brazil. The town yes? formed on land taken from the Indians since? ideal place for the transit of trade from Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro.
The goal ? was Petropolis a locality? from the European aspect where the Brazilian imperial court of Dom Pedro II spent the summer periods away from the heat of Rio de Janeiro. Even today, the Brazilian president spends the summer there and many Brazilians have elected the town as their holiday destination. Over time many hippies have arrived and have installed ateliers, as well as celebrities? of various kinds.
We started the visit from the Cathedral of Sao Pedro de Alcantara which houses the tombs of the last Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II, his wife and daughter. Climbing the bell tower is it possible? admire the panorama of the town surrounded by greenery and embellished with street lamps, parks and bridges over small rivers. IS? in the Gothic style with stained glass and stained glass at night? also illuminated outside. When we entered they were rehearsing Gregorian chants that made our skin crawl despite the heat ?.
Crossing bridges that connect various buildings and streets we reached the Imperial Museum in the nineteenth-century building in which to enter with felt flaps? We did not go there for lack of cash and the credit card was not accepted? The park? very interesting with the tropical species typical of the place.
The Palacio Rio Negro? a majestic yellow-painted building and summer residence of the Brazilian president.
The House Museum of the inventor of the wristwatch.
A curiosity? ? the Throne of Fatima a 3.5 meter high sculpture of the Madonna of Fatima imported from Italy from which to admire the view of the town from the top of the hill where it is located. To get there we made a marked path in the middle of the bush with steps.
Retracing our steps we also visited one of the first Brazilian breweries, the Cervejaria Bohemia where they explain the processing and offer the possibility? to taste the finished product.
The Casa da Ispiranga? one of the most? beautiful miniature residences of Petropolis. When we went out it started raining like this? we headed to the Palacio Cristal built in France and transported to Brazil in 1879.? all in glass and iron and? used as a greenhouse for orchids.
Unfortunately, the weather did not show any improvement and in any case our visit to Petropolis was over. Under an impressive downpour we headed towards Rio? On the road the water flowed so much that? Was it difficult to see the road well?
Since we were nearby? Did we go to see a big outlet outside Rio?. To tell the truth we didn't find very affordable prices? considering we were in Brazil?. also the brands weren't very well known apart from the big international ones? did we go out empty handed? was it just to take a look? if there are no bargains, isn't it really worth buying at certain prices?
We headed towards Itaborai at our hotel and also tonight we ate in a restaurant in the area for what? we already had spotted the night before? was it a Rodizio? or churrasco. A typical Brazilian restaurant where you eat a lot of meat brought by the waiters on skewers. The highlight? Does the Pican have a really succulent cut of beef? all accompanied by a rich buffet of vegetables in every sauce, pasta, rice, fish? Sometimes desserts are included in the fixed price, other times apart? all very good and abundant. Famous? Farofa a salty side dish made with cassava flour passed in fat and enriched with bacon, eggs, cabbage, bananas - very particular. Even the feijoada? delicious made with beans, spices, meat, vegetables and white rice? all to try? .pure for desserts c ?? spoiled for choice, presented in a greedy way.
Needless to say, when we went out we were about to burst 'long since we had eaten'.
Did I go to sleep with the thought of waking up early to call the bank in Italy and have the ATM unlocked?
8 FEBRUARY MONDAY km 491
As anticipated, I slept little for the thought of the ATM, in fact woken up at half past five and called in Italy to the bank where they had just opened? I explained the problem and they called me back to have confirmation? Luckily? everything went well and I was sure that the ATM had been blocked for abroad ?.
We packed our bags and went down for the last breakfast at the hotel. I used the ATM to pay for the hotel but they didn't have the possibility? to give me money in cash and they recommended a little shop down the street where there was a counter? following their directions we realized that it was just a little shop with a slot machine style ATM outside the building?. very safe for withdraw money in cash? .However, we did the operation quickly and headed for Sao Paulo?
The Brazilian highways, rodovie, are well maintained and some are paid, so they are not very busy? There are also stalls where they sell tropical fruit or other specialties. Autogrill are called lanchonete with restaurants and self-service.
To break the long road we stopped at Penedo - the village of Santa Claus? this country ? was founded by a community? of Finns who arrived in Brazil in 1929 who over time worked out to invent this attraction? the Santa Claus village? open all year? certainly 30 degrees and passing do not allow you to really enjoy the Christmas atmosphere but? however stunning to see the whole country with Finnish-style houses with themed decorations? a tall Christmas tree, with various shops and attractions that intrigue visitors ?.
Passing beyond the country and entering the national park of the surrounding mountains, there are many waterfalls very typical of Brazil - on very smooth rocks where the inhabitants cool off and have fun - but also dangerous because? slippery, the cachoeiras? not a few have been injured or have left their feathers? .we struggled to find a parking space why? there were people everywhere who had organized themselves with barbecues and bathrooms? finally a policewoman allowed us to get in a double line where only I went down to take pictures and videos? in the end yes? freed the place and also Sandro and the children got off so? did we take a walk along the river with its many waterfalls?
Back in Penedo, did he find a posticcino to have a snack? It's a pity that we filled the table with mega portions of everything, sandro had again the picanha this time served directly on the plate?
Did we manage to eat that right? it started to rain, cos? we resumed the highway towards San Paolo that was waiting for us under a black stormy sky? and with its vastness?
The first nucleus of the city? it is due to the arrival of the Jesuits in 1554. It soon became a post office for adventurers heading inland and as a center for the transport of sugar from nearby plantations.
In 1882 Brazil gained independence and São Paulo was declared the country's capital. Does the economy begin? to take off at the end of the 20th century when do you start? to export coffee? all over the world. From there? came the millions of descendants of Italian and Japanese immigrants. At the beginning of the twentieth century with the collapse of the price of coffee? the capitals were employed in the industry that recalled? other immigrants from all over the world making São Paulo the city? pi? populous in the southern hemisphere with its million inhabitants and third in the world after Seoul and Bombay.
Has this explosive growth had for? also a negative side with the presence of slums that have also made it a city? dangerous?
Thanks to the navigator we arrived at our hotel in the center of Sao Paulo without problems and just in time before it started to flood? The car? been taken to a covered and guarded parking lot by the hotel staff?
The Normandie Design Hotel? really a? design hotel with its colorful hall and the rooms (two in this case) well furnished?. as long as we settled outside the weather yes? appeased just to go in search of something to eat? .Walking we were able to see how the megalopolis reflects its fame?. a lot of glitz and a lot of poverty there were tramps everywhere and for this reason we decided not to venture far from? hotel seen now ?.
9 FEBRUARY TUESDAY
Even today a beautiful day was waiting for us? .The previous evening at the reception we were told that in this period in the evening there are frequent storms being a bit? the rainy season? in fact even on television we have seen floods and damage everywhere in the area ?.
In any case we went to have breakfast which, even in this hotel, was included in the price? And yes? also revealed beautiful abundant? it is a pity that as always the children do not know how to take advantage of it and despite the embarrassment of the choice they return to the table with glasses of water and half-empty plates?. and then begin to claim food as soon as we set out?
However, our tour concerned the historic downtown of the city? and we were practically attached, cos? we went out on foot and besides the countless tramps who slept everywhere? in front of the doors of banks, skyscrapers, in parks, and in front of monuments? .and where they had brought boxes for shelter, old sofas, mattresses? ? it was amazing how all of it was was permissible, was there also a? strong? smell? in every place? but didn't we feel in danger? even if we were practically only us around? .. at the beginning I didn't understand it but then I had the confirmation that it was Tuesday? Fat and all the shops and offices were closed? So the center was practically deserted? Apart from the tramps and us?. But also a lot of police? That's why? we didn't have any problems despite two small children? .but the antennas were still erect ?.
The Italia Building with its 46 floors? one of the most? high of this part of the metropolis,? Was it built by the Italians? It also houses restaurants and a panoramic terrace? all closed due to the day of celebration.
The Copan Building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer a world-famous exponent of Brazilian modernism, did he prefer curved lines? he also designed the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, but also museums around the world such as a futuristic auditorium in Italy in Ravello. A curiosity ??? died at 105 years old? in Rio c ?? a museum dedicated to him but also many buildings and museums.
The Municipal Theater? inspired by the Paris Opera but resized.
The Viaducto del Cha? a cast iron bridge which? has long been the symbol of the city's cultural and economic supremacy.
The Cathedral from Se? on the tree-lined square of the same name? huge in neo-Byzantine style and topped by a dome.
The Solar from Marquesa? the only surviving building from the 1700s. It is a villa former residence of the lover of Emperor Dom Pedro I, today it houses the museum of the history of the city.
La Praca Pateo do Colegio? the exact place where the city was founded? by the Jesuits in 1554. The mission today? a 1950 reconstruction.
Mercado Municipal covered in belle epoque style with stained glass windows and large domes where you can enjoy specialties, but closed when we went there.
Mosteiro So Bento? one of the most? old dating back to 1598 with neo-Gothic façade and stained glass windows.
The rua 25 de Marco downhill? one of the most? lively and crowded in the center? in fact everything was open here?
The Banespa palace? the Brazilian version of the Empire State Building and? of 1939 and you can? admire the view over the city? from 161 meters high.
The Bovespa skyscraper? the stock exchange pi? great of Latin America. The central lobby hosts temporary exhibitions.
The Martinelli building, another symbol of the city? ? a 1929 beaux-arts skyscraper with a panoramic terrace at 26? plan to access for free.
The intersection of Avenida Sao Joao and Avenida Ipiranga? famous why? immortalized in the song by Caetano Veloso dedicated to the city? ? Sampa ?.
One thing that surprised us? the quantity? of abandoned and vandalized buildings with writings and codes and others illegally occupied by poor people, forced to the pavement because of the policies that Brazil has decided to adopt? .creating even more? inequalities in the population ?.
The tour of the historic center there? liked it, but? was fast why? everything was closed. We went back to the hotel to get settled in and to think locally about how to continue the day. We decided to take a taxi and go to the huge Ibiraquera park which houses museums, sports centers, lakes and suitable for jogging, walking on the countless paths.
Taking the taxi back, we reached the very long Avenida Paulista, a sort of Park Avenue in New York with mirrored skyscrapers that house banks, television and radio stations (the roofs were dotted with mega antennas), large museums such as MASP (one of the museums of? largest art in Latin America), shopping centers, consulates. Here too there was much more? movement with respect to the historic center. We traveled all over it, stopping to eat in a shopping center to the delight of the children.
This area was once occupied by the residences of the coffee magnates. The Parque Siqueira Campos? a beautiful park that reproduces the typical tropical vegetation (mata atlantica) of this Brazilian area. Very nice with the paved paths and bridges.
With a taxi we went to another typical district of Sao Paulo, on the advice of the people, where according to them there was an interesting carnival parade?. Even here as in Rio the parades take place in each district at certain times according to the routes The taxi driver who took us didn't know anything about it? he dumped us in the central street where there was still nothing?. attracted by the nice clubs also for the tiredness we sat down to drink something? I a? umpteenth caipirinha that immediately made me enter the carnival atmosphere? actually? when ? arrived the appointed time? people arrived in droves who began to follow a chariot that proceeded with deafening music, but there were very few who were dressed in carnival costumes. Did people mostly enjoy themselves? walking behind the wagon with alcohol and soft drinks in hand?. Given that these days the horror film The Boy was in programming, they distributed paper masks that reproduced a face and the children had fun wearing them?. crowd of people who had arrived in the meantime, we took another taxi to return to the historic center where there was another parade. Here too we settled in a park near a square to wait but in the meantime we started looking at the people around and the many tramps who were arranging their beds? When? started the blockade, the parade, we found that it was really a neighborhood thing, nothing special? we walked towards the hotel but in an adjacent street they were doing a huge parade full of people like that? we joined the crowd being careful not to lose the children?. before returning to the hotel we went back to the club the previous evening to eat a? huge bowl of ice cream?. the visit of this megalopolis with very strong contrasts.
10 FEBRUARY WEDNESDAY km 582
Even today a long way to go cos? at seven we went down to breakfast. Once again the children nibbled the food instead of taking advantage of it? Sandro and I instead filled up in anticipation of the many hours by car that awaited us. After checking out of the hotel, we waited for the car that had been parked back to us. Who knows? where and finally before eight we were on the road towards Ponta Grossa.
Is Ponta Grossa in the state of Paran? and our exact destination was Vila Velha where there is a natural park consisting of several attractions. Unfortunately the last entry? at 15 pm we had to hurry, luckily you have to go mainly through the motorway and in any case roads with little traffic apart from the outskirts of San Paolo. We did not even go to the hotel to leave our luggage precisely why? time was short and then why? we arrived that it was raining ?.
Unfortunately we could only visit a part .. and more? precisely the area with the strange rock formations.
As soon as it stopped raining we took the park bus that took us to the beginning of the trail or trilho. It involves following a paved path (also suitable for wheelchairs) in a loop of about 3 km. In the first part, do you see rock formations with imaginative shapes that resemble bottles, cups, boots? which have been given names; the second part takes place in the forest with descents close to the mountain. Not being well known by foreign tourists? very quiet and? truly suggestive to be in the midst of these sedimentary rocks on the bottom of an ancient sea.
The Vila Velha? also known as the city? of stone for its 23 arentinhas (sandstone columns).
As we were finishing the tour in the forest, yes? it started raining heavily again and we found shelter under the rock of a mountain? luckily the other tourists came to warn us that the bus to return to the visitor center of the park and therefore the entrance was about to leave? to avoid forgetting someone do visitors always count?
Another part of the park that we have not had time to visit and which in any case does not? always open? the area of the furnas, it is about deep cavities? resulting from the collapse of the overlying ground full of underground water, such as underground pools?. certainly very suggestive. In the pi? great ? possible to go down with an elevator up to the water level.
Nearby there is also a lagoon, the lagoa dourada which seems to be fed by the same water as the previous craters and? rich in birdlife.
Given the time and time that by now would not have improved we headed with the tank of the car in total reserve by now for km? For this? climb a bit? the tension since? we could not find a petrol station in our direction? we were on a motorway so it was difficult to go to those on the other side if not risking to use more petrol? luckily we did it just before our hotel?
Also at hotel 10 Ponta Grossa? very welcoming, the room had two large double beds and all comforts. We decided to have dinner in the restaurant where we enjoyed it. When we got back to the room we saw the news showing the floods from various parts of Brazil?. Very reassuring? Now that we were heading towards the interior of the country?. less populated?
FEBRUARY 11 THURSDAY km 576
Still a long way to go, destination Foz do Iguazu? on the border with Argentina and Paraguay? started with cloudy skies but then the weather? improved even if at times it rained? The road was not bad, it was not a highway and in some points it was interrupted by work in progress for this reason our speed? cruising was about 80 km per hour? The view I did not expect it that way, I imagined finding areas more? Instead, wild crops were everywhere as far as the eye could see? We arrived at our destination around five o'clock.
At the Falls Galli Hotel we were first assigned a room which was in a basement, then after various complaints and various things that did not work like air conditioning, television ... they put us in a lot more time. similar to the one seen online when booking from Italy? for this reason I always recommend checking that it is the chosen room and do not be afraid to be heard? .As I said the room was really nice, clean, spacious and overlooking the pool as per photo on the internet, nothing to do with the one given to us previously? perhaps intended for unskilled workers ?.
First we went to the pool to the delight of the children who were sitting all day in the car dopo after a nice cocktail we decided where to go for dinner. Before for? I booked an excursion at the reception to do two days later.
With the car we reached the center of this town which in reality? ? a little? scattered? .we immediately found the churrascheria of which we had read reviews and I must say that we were not disappointed? even here it is about eating meat at will? cut directly from the skewers and a rich buffet where you can choose an? infinit? of side dishes and desserts.
12 FEBRUARY FRIDAY 83 km
Busy day? So wake up early? Last night we cleared that the pool stays open late into the night? With loud music?
However, first thing substantial breakfast included in the room price then departure by car.
Foz do Iguazu? a town on the Brazilian border and home base for visiting the famous Iguazu Falls ?. The Paran rivers? and Iguazu naturally separate it from Paraguay and Argentina respectively.
First we went to visit the Itapu Dam, one of the most? largest power plants in the world after the Chinese one. IS? 9 km long and 200 meters high. The plant supplies 22% of the energy consumed in Brazil and 90% of that used in Paraguay with which Brazil built it. To visit there are guided excursions that last an hour and a half and allow you to see the various parts of the dam, the artificial lake that you? created with the barrage, a museum and a film that illustrates the history of the place. The dam is one of the 25 engineering wonders of the world and its name Itaipu derives from the populations of Indians who lived here before the start of this project? The formation of this huge lake has also wiped out the most? great waterfalls of the world that were found here.
During our guided tour we moved with buses from which you can? get off at various panoramic points. Not being many did we meet an Italian couple of a certain age? who emigrated to Brazil in youth? and they told us how people really live in Brazil and the big imbalances between rich and poor?
We then stopped at a huge Buddhist shrine always on the border with Paraguay from where? possible to see the city? of Ciudad de l? Este from afar. The temple ? one of the most? large and importatni of South America and? was built in 1996 by the community? Asian from Foz do Iguaz? and celebrates the diversity? bicultural of Brazil. Inside the temple there are over 120 statues and a 7 meter high Buddha.
Finally we went to the Iguazu Falls National Park which is divided into two parts, one in Brazil and one in Argentina.
The Iguazu River? originates from the peaks of the coastal mountains of Parana? and Santa Caterina in Brazil, meanders for 600 km inland, incorporating dozens of tributaries along the way. It then spreads out into a magnificent forest before making a series of jumps on more? levels creating precisely the waterfalls. The place was sacred to the indigenous peoples, while the Europeans arrived in 1541 and UNESCO has declared them a world heritage site. in 1986. In 2011 they were included in the seven new wonders of nature.
A good movie with a very emotional soundtrack? ? Mission? with Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons explaining how the Indians were converted by the missionary fathers.
The Parque Nacional do Iguacu? Brazil includes various viewpoints accessible by trails:
- Trilha das Cataratas, path of the waterfalls,? a 1200 meters long path that follows the river and ends at the Gargantua do Diablo, a spectacular water jump.
- A panoramic lift allows you to admire the falls from above. From? Porto canoas is also reached where there are restaurants and shops.
First we got the tickets for an? Iguaz River excursion? directly at the park entrance. With a park bus we traveled a long asphalted road in the middle of the vegetation and on which there are various stops coinciding with the hiking trails. We got off in the one managed by Macuco Safari, the tour operator of the area that took us inside the forest for three kilometers with a kind of towed mega jeep, stopping at various points to give us explanations about the surrounding nature and fauna. Later we got off and walked along the rivers that flowed down towards the Iguazu river which we also reached. Here we were given the life jackets and whoever wanted could be in costume or like me yes? put a lot to protect bags and clothes? of course? highly inadvisable to use cameras, video cameras or cell phones? Do you get really wet because you go very close to the jets of the falls? I took a risk but I managed the same well? even if when I was under the water I had put everything away?.? it was fun to sail with super-fast rubber dinghies and see the waterfalls of the Argentine side, since? L? are the pi? large. Back at the boarding point we dried off and checked that all electrical appliances were working - there were a myriad of butterflies of all colors flitting by. Taking a Macuco Safari jeep back on the main road of the park and from there? with a park bus we reached the point where the path along the river began from where to see all the waterfalls in Argentina?
In the Iguazu park? there are about 275 waterfalls with a height ranging from 40 to 80 meters and four times more wide. larger than those of Niagara. The point pi? high ? the Garganta del Diablo, the Devil's throat with a height of 150 meters and a length of 700.
Along the way you will come across typical animals such as coatis, a kind of giant raccoon, which approach in search of food and are also very intrusive but? better not to touch them why? everywhere there are signs indicating their danger they bite - but also iguanas, tropical birds, butterflies and monkeys. The coatis in particular take control of the bar tables by forcing people to move why? they come in droves and combine all the colors overturning everything? and? making their? comfortable?
We arrived at the end of the park where a set of walkways allow you to walk a few meters from the surface of the water and here anyway the bathroom? ensured by the micro drops of the waterfalls all around. To finish the tour we climbed on a panoramic lift from where to see all the grandeur of the falls from very close and the noise was deafening.
Retracing our steps across the street from Iguaz Park? is the Parque das Aves where? You can walk along the paths in the middle of the forest. Large aviaries allow access to see the birds up close. There are lots of parrots of all colors, toucans, ibises and many other tropical bird species, a reptile house, the butterfly house and nocturnal birds.
Around six we went to Marco das tres Fronteiras, the meeting point of the Paran rivers? and Iguaz? and therefore the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. There are scenic trails where you can see the Marcos, i.e. the monuments with the flags of the respective states on the other banks of the rivers. There is also a historic place with small shops.
For dinner we stopped at a Pizza Hut of the famous fast food chain where children like to go. Back at the hotel as it was seven and it was still very hot and it was still light we went to the pool for an hour and please the children?
13 FEBRUARY SATURDAY
Today we made the visit of the falls from the Argentine side but to go there we went with a private driver since with the car you can not? expatriate. You could also go with the courier but it would take longer? time also why? you have to get off and show your passport. We, on the other hand, did not get out of the van why? did the driver take care of the formalities? customs. In an hour we arrived in front of the entrance to the Parque Nacional Iguac. In Argentina c ?? one hour less than in Brazil.
Like all the others, we first took a train that leads to the point pi? far from the park, where there are the very long walkways that lead to the Gargantua del Diablo. There were a lot of people and it was very hot, thank goodness that every now and then we cooled off with the splashes of water that were carried by the wind.
This time we were right above the spectacular jump and? There was a deafening noise from so much water flowing? Was it just an incredible landscape? Returned to the railway while we were waiting we enjoyed seeing the coati, also similar to tapirs, invading the rails and did they approach in hopes of picking up something?
First we did the upper circuit 1750 meters long which allows you to admire the falls from above, always walking on the walkways and in the middle of the vegetation. There were many observation points one more? beautiful of the other.
The lower circuit leads instead to the base of the falls and you can? get very close to the jets of water and finally you can? refresh as it should?
Before leaving the park we visited the visitor center where there is information about the park and we waited for the driver who punctual? arrived.
Upon returning to the border c? Was a bit? tail but we didn't worry about it, all four of us fell asleep due to fatigue. At the hotel we went to the pool and had a cocktail while waiting to go out for dinner.
We got advice from the hotel staff but they sent us to an Italian restaurant which was not quite what we were looking for?. did we stop? usually when we are abroad we prefer to eat local? to avoid disappointments that arrive on time ?.
FEBRUARY 14 SUNDAY km 650
Long trip to Curitiba so? we had breakfast at the hotel and by half past seven we were already? on the street? stuck in a truck queue .. despite it being Sunday? on the road in fact there were works that slowed down the march?
Leaving Foz do Iguaz? have we noticed on the street some handicraft stalls of the Indian populations who still live for their own business?
We stopped on the road in a lanchonette, a kind of motorway restaurant even though we weren't on the motorway.
The weather ? variable state and at times it rained. We arrived in Curitiba around five o'clock and thanks to the navigator we immediately found the main attraction of the city, the botanical garden with a huge greenhouse called the Crystal Palace where from inside? You can see the French-style garden from above.
Curitibia? the capital of the state of Paran? and? considered the city? with the best quality? of life of all Brazil and? been awarded as the pi? environmentally sustainable in the world.
Unfortunately we did just in time to enter the greenhouse what? came the great flood, fortunately? did not last long? the park? very nice especially with the perspectives that created the hedges with the flowers?. Tired we went in search of the Hotel Slaviero Slim Curitiba, very elegant and modern? we were assigned two communicating rooms so? Did we split up the children again this time? leave them alone together we didn't talk about it? We were in a quiet neighborhood and we didn't want to go in search of a place to eat and outside the weather was still cloudy so? we took advantage of having dinner in the hotel restaurant.
FEBRUARY 15 MONDAY km 727
Today the stage pi? long journey towards Paraty. We passed through San Paolo luckily what? all highway. When did we take the direction towards the coast the road? become more? challenging with climbs and descents and above all why? passing through the forest we were hit by a fog that did not show even a meter away? the whole thing? lasted for tens of km. We were in a protected natural park and were truly surrounded by wild nature. When we arrived on the coast the weather was overcast but we went to see a famous beach in these parts Praia do Cepilho very white and long characterized by huge boulders smoothed by the waves. Returning back we arrived at our destination.
Paraty? was the main port from which the Portuguese exported gold in colonial times. It is located between two rivers and? it was designed according to the flow of the tides in such a way that many roads were flooded at high tide to facilitate transport up to the highest part. inner city. The current aspect? very picturesque with white houses and decorated doors. The streets are cobbled and straight.
First we went to the Pousada Praia do Jabaquara a very basic Brazilian accommodation. The children immediately jumped into the pool which was about to close due to bad weather. Then we went back to the central area in search of a typical restaurant but it started to pour and we immediately found ourselves trapped with the car that was about to be flooded by so much water falling? We really risked blocking the engine and we had a bad time why? was water still pouring in from all sides?. with courage we moved to get out of the cobbled streets of the center with the risk of flooding the car?. where to eat?. to cheer us up and regain courage after the bad adventure?. just missed to be overwhelmed by a tide of water?. Fortunately, the excellent dinner restored our morale and made us find the courage to continue the journey? Back in the pousada we saw the news that showed flooding everywhere? stay in the middle?
16 FEBRUARY TUESDAY km 261
It rained all night but in the morning the weather? improved but c? was a hood of humidity all the water that? fall was evaporating? .we had breakfast included in the price of the room on the patio near the pool, all very impressive. Packed our bags before we went for a ride on the beach behind the pousada in a sheltered bay surrounded by forest and very quiet. Then with the car we reached the historical center of the previous evening? In the light of the sun a whole? Other thing?. The streets had practically dried from all the rain and the colors and the colonial atmosphere was very relaxing? We walked everywhere, c ? they were craft shops, squares, restaurants and churches all surrounded by flowers and tropical trees .. the port was full of typical and colorful boats ready to take tourists to the various bays of the park. Before leaving, we stopped at a very picturesque artisan ice cream parlor where we served ourselves.
On the way we wanted to go to see some cachoeiras (waterfalls on smooth and very high rocks) but we could not find them even though we asked the local people? .Who was sending us here, who?. headed towards Rio de Janeiro along the coast? .then the speed? ? been very small but we had the opportunity to see other views of this Brazilian coast and other places? bathers? .then for? we took the highway that in the vicinity? of Rio? been very busy? to be at the end of the road trip we were really stressed so? did we go straight to our last luxury hotel on this trip ?.
If on arrival we had to go 50 km from Rio to find a hotel for the last three days, we treated ourselves well thanks to the fact that the prices dropped considerably after the carnival just ended? The Windson Guanabara Hotel really beautiful and majestic. It is located on a very long street in the very busy downtown and to park we made hard times around the block why? we couldn't find the garage entrance and there were other cars behind us. On the second try we got it, left our car keys and checked in? Our room was at 17? floor is nice wide and with all the comforts? we immediately went to the rooftop pool at 22? outdoor floor from where there was a spectacular view over the bay of Rio and all the surrounding skyscrapers? from up there. was it fun to see the tiny cars on the road? possible for the joy of the children? by now we wanted to take it easy and abandon the accumulated stress especially for Sandro who had had enough of driving hundreds of km a day? not that the car would not have anymore? touched ?.
We would have liked to go to dinner in a nice restaurant but it had started to flood again so? we settled for a fast food under the arcades of the street of the hotel? in a Brazilian Habibi chain that we already had? tried in Sao Paulo. But for dessert we went to get ice cream from KFK the American chain ?.
17 FEBRUARY WEDNESDAY
Breakfast in this hotel too? including this, with the huge buffet and choice, we only took advantage of it Sandro and I while the children, after going to help themselves, came back with a glass of water and watermelon? .We decided to go around the historic center of Rio given that was some more? cloudy and as always? we walked a lot? We saw a lot of things and towards the end of the lap that I had studied I had to accelerate because? had the sun come out and everyone else wanted to go to the beach?
Rio de Janeiro means January river and derives from the fact that the bay was mistaken to be a river, and what? it took place in 1502 in an expedition of the Portuguese in which Amerigo Vespucci had also participated. The Guanabara Indians who inhabited the area called the whites carioca, hence the nickname of the inhabitants of Rio.
IS? the second city? of Brazil by extension after San Paolo and? was the capital of the state before Brasilia. It has a population of 6 million inhabitants but also counting the peripheral areas reaches 12 million.
The climate ? tropical with two seasons, the rainy one that goes from December to March and coincides with the summer and the dry one. The minimum temperature is still around 21 ?.
First we went to see one of the first places founded by the conquerors. The Mosteiro de Sao Bento one of the most? beautiful colonial churches of Brazil. Built in 1600 on the Morro de Sao Bento which offers a panorama over the city. The interior ? baroque with rich decorations. Mass on Sunday? accompanied by a choir of Benedictine monks with Gregorian chants.
On a square and in the middle of an intersection is the Church of Nostra Senhora de la Candelora with its dome and in front of which is our hotel on the corner.
The Centro cultural Banco do Brasil in a neoclassical building that houses a hall covered by a dome, three theaters and cafes.
We have reached piazza XV in which the yellow and neoclassical-style maritime station is located, from where the ferries that lead to Niteroi on the other side of the immense bay of Guanabara leave.
The Rua do Ouvidor? famous why? samba is danced in the afternoons.
La Travessa do Comercio? a former commercial street full of bars, clubs and cafes.
Praca 15 de Noviembro on which there is an equestrian monument.
The Palacio Tiradentes features impressive neoclassical columns and a dome lit up in the evening. The statue in front of an independence fighter who for his work (he was a dentist) was nicknamed tiradentes. The building houses the Rio regional council, before the transfer of the capital to Brasilia it housed the Parliament.
The Paco Imperial? a white colonial style building, now houses a cultural center was once the seat of the governor and viceroys ?.
L? Igreja do Carmo da Antiga Se? ? it was the cathedral of Rio for a time but also the theater of the Opera. On its 30-meter high bell tower is the bronze statue of Nossa Senhora da Conception.
The Belas artes Museum houses works by Brazilian and European artists ranging from the th to the th century.
The Municipal Theater? inspired by the Paris Opera. Theater ? internally decorated with colored crystals from Germany.
The National Library has 10 million books and documents. The entrance hall with marble columns and art deco domes. On the square there is a yellow building that houses a historic venue.
Along the bay there are huge parks with paths, monuments (the huge monument Aos Mortos Segunda Guerra) and museums including the Museo de Arte Moderna one of the best museums in Rio with international works.
We reached the district of Lapa where the famous Selaron staircase is located which? it was decorated by the Chilean artist Jorge Celaron. IS? 125 meters long and has 250 steps decorated with over 2000 tiles from all over the world. Originally the tiles were recovered from construction sites and were later donated by visitors. Here there were really a lot of tourists and? it was fun to go up and down it while looking at the houses that overlook it.
Arcos da Lapa is a 270 meter long aqueduct built in 1673 for the water supply of the city. Until the 40s this square was full of night clubs, cabaret shows and game rooms. Then they were closed and the neighborhood began a phase of decline? Currently? reborn with trendy clubs and bars in restored colonial buildings? but everywhere there are beggars and people sleeping everywhere? even in the middle of the pavement?
La Avenida mem de Sa? On weekends? stormed by tourists and local people who stroll given the quantity? of restaurants and bars.
Rio's Cathedral of San Sebastiano popularly called as Catedral Metropolitana? It was built in 1979 with a truncated cone shape of 106 meters in diameter and 96 meters in height. Four stained glass windows meet forming a colored cross. Pu? accommodate up to 20.000 standing people.
The surrounding area? characterized by skyscrapers that house large companies? state oil plants like dark cubic shaped Petrobas, banks like Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento (the state bank) in a black building.
In the midst of these huge buildings are historic churches such as the Igreja de Santo Antonio the most? ancient city with azulejos decorations and the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de Sao Francisco da Penitencia i Baroque style? called? golden cave? for its cedar walls covered with 400 kg of gold leaf and a ceiling with a perspective design.
The real Gabinete Portugues de leitura? a library founded by emperor Dom Pedro II as a gift from Portugal to Brazil in 1887. of 35.000 books and the exterior has a neo-Gothic facade.
To end the tour in the city center? we went to see the famous Confeitaria Colombo the caff? historic Rio from 1894 and features many art-deco elements? but surely an? infinit? of delicious and imaginative pastries.
The adjacent area? pedestrian where you can? wandering through narrow streets full of shops and restaurants.
Back at the hotel we organized ourselves to go to the beach and in order not to move the car we took a taxi and we had a district of the city taken to Copacabana. famous for its long beach.
We walked all 3.2 meters of the Praia de Copacabana first along the shore where the children were practically always in the water and then back along the sidewalk with its famous wave decoration. The statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade seated on a bench depicts the great Brazilian poet.
On the seafront there are bars and kiosks and in one of these we had a snack. On the main road in front of the beach there are tall buildings that house hotels. The pi? famous? the Copacabana Palace a monumental neoclassical building that has hosted famous people since 1923.
Forte Duque de Caxias or do Leme? a military base. A steep path 800 meters long leads into the rainforest that climbs to the top of Morro de Leme from where you can see the view of the beaches.
At the other end of the beach is the Forte de Copacabana which houses a photographic museum on the history of Brazil.
At the base of the fort there is a colony of fishermen who have colorful boats.
The museum from Imagem e do Som? is always located on the seafront and? opened in 2015 and illustrates the history of Brazilian music and cinema. A panoramic terrace allows a view over the whole beach.
In front of the museum the handicraft market takes place in the evening.
On an internal street, the Ypiranga building with a curvilinear facade housed the office of the famous architect Niemeyer who died at the age of 104 on the top floor. years old.
Tired and hungry we went looking for a churrascherria asking the locals? Finally we found one? Did we eat well? There was plenty of choice but no? was at the height of the first experiences in the areas away from tourists where we have been?
Before taking the taxi back we took another walk on the sidewalk of the seafront where there were the illuminated kiosks and saw some sand sculptures?
While we were in the room fixing our things I heard on the news that the previous night an Argentinian tourist had been stabbed to death right on the beach where we were? They tried to snatch her and her? running after thieves? certain things make your morale sink under your heels and reflect how sometimes you take risks? .I still believe that common sense and knowledge of the places can help to avoid unpleasant inconveniences? I really don't feel like running around in a deserted area at night? surrounded by favelas? some? Is it possible to visit them with special guides? but I confess that I don't like that type of tourism? .although it could be useful to the locals ?.
In Rio de Janeiro alone, there are over 1000 favelas and 23% of the city's people? lives there. The favelas were born from the expansion of the city? which has attracted many people from the countryside with the mirage of a better life what often does not? happened and have given way to illegal settlements more and more? vast areas in which delinquency and drug trafficking took over. Currently the police too? very reluctant to go into it?. So would it be deleterious to happen by mistake? of the favelas of Rio? which are mostly found? at the top of the hills in the middle of which the city extends were once covered by forests then a little at a time they were cleared to be inhabited.
FEBRUARY 18 THURSDAY
We decided to move by car after a day's break? Following the usual abundant breakfast we reached the parking lot to climb the Sugar Loaf.
The Pao de acucar? a hill that you? originated 570 million years ago with the lifting of the most? deep in the earth's crust. The name derives from its shape that recalls the container of sugar cubes.
The ascent by cable car from the valley station takes place in two steps. The first step ? the Morro da Urca at about 220 m above sea level. Here you can see two models of cabins used in 1912 and 1972. You can see an exhibition on the cocuruto, the mountain, and a film.
The second stage leads to 396 meters high from where you can? admire the bay of Rio, the beaches and the neighborhoods.
At the foot of the hill is the very picturesque neighborhood of Urca with various beaches, a marina and the Fortaleza de Sao Joao where the first Portuguese settlement was founded.
From? we reached the Tijuca park that surrounds Rio. There are many paths and roads that allow you to reach various panoramic points such as the Vista Chinesa at 380 meters high. It is a pavilion built to commemorate Chinese immigrant workers employed in the construction of roads and railways. There are also vantage points on top of the characteristic smooth rocks of the mountains for climbing and paragliding.
At the foot of the park towards the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is the Parque Lage with English gardens and? surrounded by the Atlantic rainforest where you can spot monkeys and toucans and? the starting point for climbing Corcovado where the statue of Christ is located. The residence inside the park hosts exhibitions.
Very cool and interesting? the botanical garden the most? great of South America. IS? It was founded in 1808 by the Portuguese aristocracy who fled from Portugal to acclimatize the plants and spices imported from Indian countries. There is the wood of Brazil that gave rise to the name of the state and from which the red dye for the red robes of royalty was obtained.
The avenue of palm trees 40 meters high? 700 meters long and are about 200 years old. In the middle? Street ? located the fountain of the muses with a beautiful view in the background. The lake with the Victoria regia water lilies, the greenhouses with orchids, bromeliads and carnivorous plants complete this wonderful park.
Unfortunately the children wanted to go to the beach and it was very hot and therefore the visit? been too hasty for my taste ?.
We returned to Leblon and Ipanema beach.
Leblon beach? 1.3 km long and reaches the twin hills of Dois Irmaos. IS? one of the best beaches in Rio with large hotels lining it including the Marina Palace and the Marina all suites. At the end of the promenade there is a statue of the journalist Zozimo Barozo with an old typewriter on the sidewalk with the typical mosaic. Panoramic point? the Mirante do Leblon with an outdoor bar.
We took advantage of the street vendors to snack on shrimp skewers and drink caipinha or coconut juice but also to shop like the typical colorful sarongs or bracelets of Brazilian threads.
We also walked the Ipanema beach again, always along the shore. the children were always in the water at the mercy of the waves.
Off the beaches of Rio there is the archipelago of the Cagarras islands of the islets declared a natural park.
For the evening we went to Leblon in the central streets full of shops and restaurants and to the Leblon shopping center with sparkling shops. C ?? also a large Havaians shop the famous flip flops. The name in Portuguese means Hawaiians and they were invented in 1962 on the inspiration of Japanese sandals with rice straw soles. Thanks to the very low prices compared to Europe, we practically raided? .C and were of all colors and infinite fantasies. We also bought some in other places in Rio and the prices were the same.
19 FEBRUARY FRIDAY
Last full day cos? with the car we went to the other side of the huge bay of Guanabara crossing the very long bridge that we used the first few days to reach the hotel.
The town of Niteroi? the only one to have been founded by an Indian and is located 5 km from Rio. ? famous for hosting the Museum of Contemporary Art designed by Niemeyer in 1996 with a flying saucer or lotus flower shape as it was intended. The access ramp allows you to enjoy the beautiful view of the bay. Unfortunately when we went it was closed for renovations.
The city? it also offers beautiful beaches and natural parks on the surrounding hills loved by hang gliders.
Guanabara Bay? It was explored for the first time by the French who founded a colony then the Portuguese took over in 1565. Due to the continuous attacks by Dutch and French pirates, it was decided to build imposing fortresses at the mouth of the bay, including the Fortaleza de Santa Cruz. The area was a strategic point for the transit of ships from Africa loaded with slaves and spices.
To access the fortress, we took a 45-minute guided tour since? ? still active militarily. It was just us and another Brazilian gentleman and during the visit we were accompanied by young soldiers who explained the various parts of the fort. Everywhere there were soldiers in training or visiting. The tour starts from the chapel of Santa Barbara and passes through the cannon batteries and the central courtyard where the cistern and the prison cells are located. The fort has inspired famous prisoners like Giuseppe Garibaldi but? was used as a prison during the military dictatorship. To get to this fortress, you go along the bay and cross a small fishing village.
Back in Rio, did we go to see the Maracana? the famous stadium built in 1948 in anticipation of the 1950 world championship. The initial capacity stood at 160.000 but after the renovations for the 2016 Olympics yes? reduced to 78.000 spectators. Again not? it was possible to visit it inside why? there were works in anticipation of the Olympics.
After wandering all around and seeing statues of famous players, we also reached the famous Sambodromo, a fixed architectural structure 700 meters long, created to host events and especially the carnival parades, the ones you see on television. IS? was designed in 1984 by Niemeyer to solve the traffic problems that occur for these events.
Given the time we had a quick snack in the Leblon area and then reached the beach to enjoy it for the last day?. In the evening for a change we went to a rodizio..di pizza? That is pizza at will? served at the table by the waiters?
20 FEBRUARY SATURDAY
Today we go home? But first, having half a day to spare, we went by taxi to visit the Feira de Sao Cristovao which takes place on a fixed area every weekend starting on Friday. until Sunday evening. Is it a closed area where there are restaurants, bars, stalls where they mostly deal? specialties of the Brazilian Northeast is the ideal? go there in the evening when all the clubs are open and full of people with music and attractions. We went there in the morning when almost everything was closed but we still got an idea of the place.
Back in the central area we did a little more walk but now the trip was winding down so? we decided to relax and take advantage of the swimming pool on the top floor of our hotel? they allowed us to stay until four in the afternoon at no additional cost as we have was the flight in the evening ?.
Closed the suitcases, done the check out, we headed to the airport but on the street there was a crazy traffic why? the streets were blocked by the people of the favelas who demonstrated to have electricity in their neighborhoods too? the contradictions of this huge city?
Arriving at the airport we returned the car to Localiza without any misunderstandings and surprises of additional costs for damage - which we did not do - miraculously - and with the shuttle we reached the area of departing flights. Unfortunately someone? .Sandro? Yes? realized not to have more? the wallet he had in his shorts?. what? ? returned with the Localiza shuttle bus to the headquarters to see if he had slipped into his car? luckily he found him ?.
Made customs I hoped to pass the time before boarding by browsing the duty free shops? But there was little choice why? the airport was being refurbished for the olympics? finally the return flight? left at nine in the evening and? lasted nine hours until Madrid where we took the connection to Venice ..
Well this trip too? finished. IS? it was a very intense experience, a little Brazil different from how I had imagined it before going there? I thought I would find a Brazilian atmosphere style telenovelas with typical music everywhere instead globalization has hit here too giving s? of the guarantees but on the other hand it has removed the charm of exotic and uncontaminated landscapes?. from the safety side there were no problems, the important thing? common sense and always knowing the places where you are, perhaps studying a travel itinerary first ?.
PS ATTENTION TO FINES AND RESPECT TRAFFIC SIGNS We were charged the following month with fines documented with photographs of the car plate on the days in which they were made for exceeding the speed limit? in the Foz do Iguaz area? for two / five km?. just a little ?.