South America and Antarctica 2016 travel blog








2Wednesday November 16

A day spent travelling from Iguazu to Rio de Janeiro by plane and hanging around waiting. By the time we arrived at our hotel, (Hotel America Copacobana) it was almost time to go to dinner at Cafe Garota de Ipanema. This is where Antônio Carlos Jobin who composed one of my favourite songs, The Girl From Ipanema, used to frequent. Had a very good meal here. Servings are huge so sharing is the go.

Rio is the second largest city in Brazil after San Paolo. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1565. Brasilia is the capital. It is a very multicultural city, apparently more Japanese live here than anywhere outside Japan. The local people have almost African features and descend from slaves. Around 11 million inhabitants live in the greater metropolitan area.

Thursday November 17

A full day tour on a small coach. Drove through the city to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue which is on the top of a mountain overlooking the city. Pretty impressive except for the mass taking selfies with arms outstretched mimicking the statue. It is gigantic - 34 metres high excluding the 8 meter high base and its arms stretch 28 metre. Completed 1931. It's one of the seven new wonders of the world. Great view of the city from there except it was a bit cloudy.

Had a stop at the Selarón Steps which are ceramic and started by a Chilean artist called Jorge Selarón who lived in and loved Brazil.

He started just decorating by his home but it grew as others added their tiles and now there are 2000 up 250 steps up 125 metres.

Later to the Santa Marta Favella or slum. It was so interesting- a local showed us around for about 90 minutes. They were one of the first favellas to have a police presence. Favellas were notorious for drugs and violence and the police presence has cleaned this up. He and others have been trying to improve conditions, organizing clean ups, pre- schools for the kids. There are a few shops, he has started an hostel, arranged for solar power. It is very dirty with open drains, some homes better and more cared for than the majority. They are very proud that MichaelJackson visited and made a video there ( although some of it made elsewhere). There is a life sized statue of him in what they now call Michael Jackson square. Madonna (or was it Lady GaGa also visited twice.

Had a swim - or at least a quick dip- at Copacobana beach. It was not so clean! Followed up with a beachside drink before a farewell dinner on the 24th floor of a fancy hotel

So the end of a wonderful tour , the highlights were Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires especially the tango show.

Friday Nov 18 and an almost 3 hour flight to Montevideo in Uruguay for the night before embarking tomorrow on my adventure to South Georgia and Antarctica

No more emails until after Antarctica

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