Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rio de Janeiro

Trip Date: November 2010

When Rob and Alessandra announced they would be getting married in Ale's hometown we were very excited for them.  We were also pretty excited because this meant that we would be travelling to Brazil.  A wedding and a vacation all rolled into one, sounds pretty good to me!

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world by both geographic area and population.  It is just over 8.5 million square-kilometres in size and has a population of 193.9 million people.  The official language is Portuguese.  The country's capital, and largest city, is São Paulo, which has a population of 19.8 million people including the surrounding metro areas.  We would be spending all of our time in Brazil's second largest city, Rio de Janeiro.  Including its metro areas, Rio's population is 12.3 million.

Brazil as located in South America
Needless to say we were very excited for this adventure.  We had never been to South America before and Rio is a huge city filled with popular attractions and beautiful beaches.  Mike, Tate, Christine, and I rented an apartment in the neighbourhood of Arpoador in the Zona Sul, or South Zone of Rio.  The location was perfect!  It was only a few blocks from Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches and was just around the corner from the Orla Hotel, where the rest of the guests were staying.  This was shaping up to be an amazing ten-day trip!

This is Lounge 6, the apartment the four of us rented for the ten days
The Orla Hotel is where most of the rest of the Canadians stayed
Mike and Tate arrived a day earlier than Chris and I, but that also meant they had to leave a day sooner than us
The Canadians in the lobby of the Orla Hotel before venturing down to Lapa
The Carioca Aqueduct, or Lapa Arches, as they're more commonly known, was a an 18th century aqueduct that brought fresh water to the city.  Today it is used as a bridge for the Tramway.
Lapa is an extremely popular neighbourhood in Rio and has a very vibrant nightlife
Rob, me, and Mike at the Lapa 40° Club
Christine in Lapa
Copacabana Beach is one of the most famous in the world.  It is 4km in length.
An impressive sand castle along the beach
This is the tiled sidewalk that runs along Copacabana Beach.  Each of the tiles was hand-laid!
The Copacabana Palace Hotel
I stumbled across this small Hammerhead Shark in a fish market near Copacabana
Arpoador Beach and Harpooner's Rock.  Arpoador is a small peninsula between Copacabana and Ipanema.  
The Devil's Beach near Arpoador.  This seemed to be a popular surfing spot for locals.
Ipanema Beach with Dois Irmãos, or the Two Brothers, standing in the background.  The Travel Channel listed Ipanema Beach as the world's sexiest!
The Cagarras Islands just off of the beach
This is the pattern of the tiles along Ipanema Beach
There's some pretty neat graffiti in Girl From Ipanema Park
This entire wall was covered in different murals and pictures
These are but a few samples of what the whole wall looked like
It's time for the wedding.  The ceremony took place at the Imperial Chapel of Immaculate Conception.
Josh, Tate, Dylan, Whitney, Mallory, and Brett outside the chapel
Christine, Me, Leanne, Brad, and Mike waiting for the ceremony to begin
Rob's Dad and Ale's Mom
Rob and his Mom
Ale being walked down the aisle by her Dad
The happy couple
The entire ceremony was performed in Portuguese.  I didn't understand what was being said, but the priest was so lively and passionate that the whole thing was very enjoyable!
Inside the chapel
The reception was held at the swanky Greenhouse Buffet
The amazing wedding cake complete with Rob and Ale as the topper
Rob and his groomsmen
The boys from Canada
The Canadian girls
Christine and I enjoying the reception and dance
We were told that it's traditional at Brazilian weddings for everyone to dress up in some wacky accessories!
An excellent day and night is coming to a close
This is the Rio Olympic Stadium, otherwise known by its Portuguese nickname Engenhão.  We would be seeing a soccer match between Fluminense and Vasco de Gama.
The setting sun as viewed from the stadium
A pink sky as viewed through the open-air stadium 
This marked my first professional soccer game and I was not let down.  The entire atmosphere is almost unexplainable.  It is nothing like North American professional sports.  There is no announcer or music played at all.  The fans are constantly on their feet, shouting, cheering, singing, and clapping.  It's hard to believe that so few people can make so much noise.  They do not serve alcohol inside the stadium and they have to separate the fans that are supporting either team.  We sat in the Fluminense section and saw the Vasco de Gama fans on the opposite side of the field.  It makes sense why they do that as it gets pretty intense once the game has started!
This is a video that attempts to show the energy and excitement within the stadium.  Be warned that the gentleman featured in the video is shouting obscenities in Portuguese directed at the Vasco de Gama fans.  He also makes some rude gestures in their direction.

This second video shows more of the singing and cheering as performed by the Fluminense fans

A group picture of everyone that attended the match.  Fluminense beat Vasco de Gama 1-0.
Sugarloaf Mountain stands 396m above the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean below
These Marmosets were common on Sugarloaf Mountain
The cable car that took us to the summit
We spotted this small lizard crawling around on the summit
Looking down on Copacabana Beach from the top of Sugarloaf
Chris and I at the top
Botafogo and Flamengo Beaches
Looking up at the summit of Sugarloaf from Morro da Urca, a shorter summit of only 220m
Celebrating another great day with good friends at Mud Bug Bar
Christine, Mike, and I decided to take a guided tour to see more of the what the city had to offer.  There were several stops throughout the day including this viewpoint overlooking São Conrado Beach (bottom left) and Rock of the Topsail, a popular hang-gliding spot.
We also did a short hike through the Tijuca Forest, which was declared a National Park in 1961.  The Tijuca Forest is a hand-planted rainforest.  It had to be replanted after the original forest was destroyed to make room for coffee farms.  The forest was replanted as part of a successful effort to save Rio's water supply.
These are ants carrying colourful flower petals along a rotting log
Banana plant
This is a tile map depicting the entire Tijuca Forest.  It is the world's largest urban forest covering some thirty-two square-kilometres.
We saw these Capuchin Monkeys on the rooftop of a building in the forest
Cascatinha Taunay or the Taunay Waterfall
I found this to be pretty neat.  It's a young, live tree, growing out of the stump of a dead tree.
The most famous monument in the Tijuca Forest, and all of Rio for that matter, is the Christ the Redeemer Statue
Cristo Redentor stands 30m tall atop his 8m pedestal.  He is perched on top of the 710m tall Corcovado Mountain.  Construction started in 1926 and was completed in 1931.
Looking down at Sugarloaf Mountain and parts of Rio
Maracanã Stadium is the largest stadium in South America
Christ the Redeemer is the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world and is an internationally known symbol of Brazil
This is a favela, or shanty town, built on a hillside in Rio.  There are a number of favelas throughout Rio and can be found anywhere within the city.
This mural in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood commemorates Brazil's 1958 World Cup Victory
Escadaria Selarón, the world-famous staircase that runs between Lapa and Santa Teresa, was the last stop on the day's tour
The steps are covered in over 2000 tiles from 135 different countries.  
We were very lucky to meet the artist behind the stairs, the Chilean-born Jorge Selarón.  He was working on the steps when we showed up.  He  considers his work "never complete" and claims "this crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death."  
This was one, of at least two, tiles from Canada that we spotted
The steps have been used in music videos by Snoop Dogg and U2 and countless movies, TV shows, and print publications.  The construction started in 1990 and continues to this very day.
The last place Christine and I planned to visit was the Jardim Botânico, or the Botanical Gardens.  These are some Red-Eared Slider Turtles at the entrance to the gardens.
The Avenue of the Royal Palms leads to the Fountain of the Muses
Fountain of the Muses
Christine sitting in the garden
The remains of the Gunpowder Factory
This Tegu lizard scrambled across the pathway right in front of us 
Just some of the many flowers in bloom in the gardens
Lily Pads on Friar Leandro Pond
Christine and I just before heading back to the apartment
Enjoying our last day in Rio by wandering through the Square of Our Lady of Peace
A couple of birds sitting on a statue in the pond
We had an absolutely wonderful time in Rio de Janeiro.  We saw and did everything we wanted to, and then some!  It was also really nice to be apart of Rob and Ale's wedding and it didn't hurt that it was a pretty darn good reason to go to Brazil!  Brazil is such a big country, though, so if we ever make it back I would really like to see different parts of the country, especially the Amazon rainforest.  

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