We say goodbye to Ilha Grande this morning as we get back onto the ferry boat and head back to Brazil's coast; then it's into the minibus for the three hour ride to Rio de Janeiro.
It's overcast again today, but we still get some great views of the coastline as we travel northward. We arrive about 1430 in 'La Ciudade Marvilhosa' (The Marvelous City) as it is called by the locals or 'cariocas'.
Carly and I arrange a quick city tour by cab for 120 Reals...we head first up to Corcovado mountain, where the statue of Christ the Redeemer gazes out over Rio. Unfortunately, it is still over cast and starts to rain, but we are still able to get some amazing views of the city. I am somewhat surprised also by the statue- I had thought it was bigger than it actually is...it is 30m tall; still, I look diminutive standing on the steps in front(can you see me in the pic?)
Then our cabbie takes us back down the mountain and over to Sugarloaf, 'Pao de Azucar', called such because it resembles a loaf of bread on it's end. There is a cable car that takes you first to Murro de Urca, a smaller hill, then on to Sugarloaf. The views of the city from here are incredible- Rio is spread out before you, built in and around small hills, and tucked in between at least five crescent shaped beaches; two of which we can see are the infamous Copacabana and Ipanema.
We spend about an hour admiring the city from this viewpoint, then take the cable car back and meet our cabbie to head to the hotel. Carlos had taken 'the boys' of the group to a soccer game, and Linda and Shari got some shopping done while we were out.
Later, we head to another 'typical' Brazilian restaurant for our last dinner together. It should have been celebratory, but everyone seemed to be a little downcast...we are all looking forward to getting on to our next destination- for me, home! But we have all been together for so long now, it will be strange not to be our group anymore. We share our 'best and worst' stories of the trip and exchange email addresses. No one really feels like partying it up, so we head back to the hotel around 2330.
My last day in Rio, and South America! Carly and I head out around 1030 and walk the five blocks down to Copacabana beach. We strolled along the sidewalk, people watching, then cut over to Ipanema beach. Spent several hours catching a last few rays of sun, then grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the hotel to clean up; then Shari and I are sharing a cab to the airport.
At 1700, as Shari and I load our bags into the cab, the remaining five members of our group come to say goodbye...Linda and Harry are leaving in the morning to continue their four month trip around the world; Carly is heading to her sister's in Buenos Aires; Phil and Graham both are spending another week in Rio and have secured themselves a rental apartment along with Carlos.
We all hug goodbye and promise to email. Shari and I climb into the cab and wave as we pull away...I can't believe I am finally going home; 45 days seems to have gone by so slow at times, but now it is over.