Friday, August 19, 2016

Inviting, multi-cultural Brazil provides visitors with fascinating opportunities -- dancing, included

A large statue of Christ is an internationally known landmark of Rio, with Sugar Loaf Mountain opposite it.

From Sugar Loaf to Ipanema,
Latin city serves up samba,
sports, scenery, scanty clothes

With Sugar Loaf in the background, and Guanabara Bay in front, Rio
offers mountains, water, beaches and splendid weather.

On Ipanema Beach, a pair of sunbathers stop for a cold drink, eyed from above.

The beaches of Rio are always crowded but, for the most part, peaceful.
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

WHILE ALL EYES are on Rio, Brazil and the Olympics, we're weighing in with our most recent trip to this teeming, colorful city.
Rio de Janeiro is a city of contrasts and diversity. Nuns and the nearly naked stroll side by side on the beaches, oblivious to one another's excesses or modesties.
Extraordinary opulence and poverty co-exist in many parts of town.
We last approached this huge seaside city from the ocean, having transited the Atlantic from Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisboa, as it is known in the Portuguese, has long and deep ties to Brazil, where the same language is spoken.
OUR FRIENDS in Lisbon had just returned from Rio's famed "Carnival," the world's largest. 
The festival -- held before Lent every year -- attracts two million people per day to the streets, where dancing, singing and parading attract both the sacred and the profane.
Copacabana is considered less touristy.
The first carnival festival in Rio dates back to 1723. The raucous Carnival festival captures world wide attention with its flamboyant costumes and dancing.
The Sugar Loaf cable car gives a splendid view of the city and bay below.
WHERE THERE'S water, there are water sports and people watchers.  The Olympians of this year's competition participated in events on both of Rio's famed beaches.   Copacabana and Ipanema are the two best known -- both have songs written about them -- and tourists and locals love them. We saw scantily clad sun worshippers, families on segways,  volleyball players and plenty of gawkers -- which we were.
Drinks were not cheap -- $12 for a local beer -- but many people brought coolers and made their own cocktails.
Samba is an art form in Rio; the dancers are elaborately clad.
TOWERING about the city are two  stunning landmarks -- one man made and one crafted by nature. Many memorable Olympics shots featured the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mt. Corcovado.
The famed Art Deco statue of Jesus was created by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by a collaborative effort between two lauded engineers -- Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa, and Frenchman Albert Caquot.
SUGARLOAF Mountain is the other noteable"must see", a granite monolith with cable cars to its summit. I conquered my vertigo and climbed aboard one of the 65-person cars, happy to be a recovering sissy as we zipped over the mouth of Guanabara Bay with a terrific view of the peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic.

Favellas are a colorful part of the landscape of Rio.
Again, in the spirit of contrast, Rio is known for its sprawling favelas.  These shanty town shacks stretch up into the mountains, while at the top of the hills are mansions.  Rio is also home to more than two dozen five-star hotels, among the world's most opulent. The Fasano is famous. Ditto the Miramar Hotel by Windsor., and Belmond Copacabana Palace. The Grand Hyatt is also a places to see and be seen -- or samba to the band.-THE NATIONAL dance, samba, must be tried, and we did.  The Brazilian dance of African origin has a basic pattern of step-close-step-close and is characterized by a dip and spring upward at each beat of the music. One gets into the rhythm after a few tries and the locals love to help with the steps and jumps.
Explorers called the now Acari river "Janeiro" or January, thus the name. It was at a gas station near a club on the river that swimmer Ryan Lochte, drunk with his pals,  disgraced the spirit of the Olympics and embarrassed the United States with hooligan acts.



UP NEXT:
As we say so-long to another glorious "Stillwater Summer," we share photos from the nature-driven environment that blesses us each year. Here's a favorite sunflower near the West Fork of the Stillwater River.  The bears share the apples on the tree in the background and other flowers are in their glory with warm sunny days and cool evenings. Join us in a summer, sunflower swan song! Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend.

2 comments:

  1. Tampa Tennis PlayersAugust 19, 2016 at 4:31 PM

    Bravo for calling out Lochte for his shameful acts in this beautiful city at an international event.

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  2. Bostonians in BrazilAugust 21, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    We saw the opening of the Olympics in this wonderful, pulsing, exotic city. Learned to Samba, too. And Sugar Loaf tram spectacular. Thanks for the memories and great photos.

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