Niteroi – Central do Rio – Samba da Trabalhodors – Petropolis – Santa Teresa
The morning of the 16th, Liana, Silvia and I drove back to the lagoon with the dogs to visit the dog park. Our stay was cut short due to a hungry looking dog (more of a wolf) that kept eyeing Liana’s dog as a possible morning snack. So we headed over to the local coconut water kiosk for a drink. Liana’s dog loves coconut water. Tonico spent the morning cooking up a “storm”; his famous “Bacalhau” (cod stew) dish. After a fine meal we had a chance to share pictures; many from Christina’s holidays as well as my own trip ones. We even got a chance to see a couple of movies that Silvia created. She wrote both films and even recruited cousin Tatiana to produce one of them through her media school. Both films were very funny and the production value was excellent. I think they would do very well in film festivals.
On the 17th we hired Marcella to drive us to the area of Niteroi. It lies across Guanabara Bay from the city of Rio de Janeiro and forms part of the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area. This beautiful area has a very interesting gallery that looks over the coast line. It kind of looks like a flying saucer. The museum was closed unfortunately but Pa and I headed down the coast to take some interesting pictures of the Boa Viagem Island. We then headed to the Escadaria Selarón. I had seen it on the internet and thought that it would be interesting to go since neither of my relatives had been their either. These stairs are covered in tiles from all over the world. It was started by Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón in 1970. It has subsequently grown to be quite the tourist attraction. Our day tour ended with us heading to “central do Rio” to check out the financial district of downtown Rio.
After a quick stop over at Louisa’s, we headed out for one of my favorite nights from this whole trip. We were dropped off at the club for samba workers. Once a month this “down to earth” night has samba musicians gathering for an informal “jam” session. A long table sits in the middle of the dance floor, where musicians sit to practice and perform. The samba music is fantastic, and the locals know all of the songs being performed so they all join in. The energy in this place is fantastic.
It was what I think of when I think of the real “BRASIL”. Beers are served in pails and there are plenty of caipirinhas to go around. We had arrived early and being “foreigners” we met up with a women selling “Carioca” hats. Pa and I each purchased one. By eight o’clock the place was packed. Later in the evening, the women with the hats took my parents and I aside to meet the club owner, who happens to be a very famous samba singer. It was really kind of funny, and I thought is was sort of like meeting the “God Father”.
The 18th we headed up to Petropolis. This city is known as the “imperial city” and is located some 70kms from Rio. The royal family used to head to Petropolis in the summer months to escape the heat of Rio. In the 1840s, many Germans immigrated to this region, so many buildings have a Bavarian style to them. My grandmother had a home in this city which we did see. I even have some vague memories of this place. The Petropolis tour started with a quick stop at “Casa Do Alemao“. This famous German delicatessen serves fantastic sausages and yummy cakes. With our stomachs filled we headed to the Palácio Quitandinha. This beautiful hotel was where my parents stayed on their honeymoon, (1958). That year both my mother (Marucia) and my aunt (Louisa) were married. This hotel was designed by an Italian and was built during the second world war. The building features over 450 rooms and opened in 1944 as a hotel/casino. I found it interesting that there was a large children’s play room where parents would drop off the kids so that they could go and gamble. The hotel has been converted into condos with a museum on the bottom floor.
We then headed to the Royal summer palace. This is now a museum which features many Royal art works and furnishings. In this museum you have to turn in your camera, and shuffle around in slippers. After a quick tour of the summer palace we walked into town for lunch and then over to the local brewery. We missed the final brewery tour by 3 minutes so we decided to walk over and check out the crystal palace. During our walk we happened to come across the home in which Alberto Santos-Dumont’s lived. This Brazilian (who spent most of his time in France) was one of the world’s first aviation pioneers. A full scale model of one of his planes can be found outside his home.
One the way back we stopped over at Taissa’s place. She has a very beautiful condo which has some spectacular views of Rio. Both Taissa and Lara were perfect hosts, and I wish we could have stayed and visited with them longer.