Sunday, November 21, 2010


Thanks to my wonderful friend Jane Bell, a remarkable Tour Leader of Journey Latin America it get the chance to know wonderful friends from England and Ireland. We strolled around Downtown Rio. Janet, David, Anne, Diarmuid, Beryl, Phill, Margaret, Graham, Andrea, Richard, Christine and Roger...Wonderful people, ready for adventure, knowledge and fun, so I made Rio easy for them. We dived into Rio's daily life.

The starting point was in Copacabana, POSTO SEIS at Sofitel Hotel close to the beautiful Fort of Copacabana and not so far from Ipanema!

We walked to the General Osorio metro in Sa Ferreira Street here in Copa, we visited the Sunday Veggie Market (Feira) at Rainha Elizabeth Street where we got to know more about brazilian vegetables, fruits and brazilian customs with a single visit in a block in the street!!!

We took the metro and I could explain the metro system in Rio de Janeiro, some interesting rules like a car just for women in the peak hours to avoid men who like taking advantages of them...we talked about the cleaness and we could also talk about how much the METRO serves the city.

We visited our Cathedral, we got not so impressed to see the church outside which is just one trashy construction, inside is more interesting to see the huge steam glass in its interior. After that we tried to take the Santa Tereza bondinho, but for maintainence reasons we found out that the tram came in each 30 minutes. Our time was too precious to waste so we decided not to take the tram. So we walked to Cinelandia to try to take a taxi and for our surprise NO TAXI DRIVERS ACCEPTED TO TAKE US TO THE HILL OF SANTA TEREZA BECAUSE THEY SAID IT WOULD DAMAGE THEIR WHEELS AND ALSO IT WOULD BE BAD FOR THEIR ENGINE!!!!

Oh well, after this ridiculous attitude, we had the opportunity to see our Opera House Teatro Municipail, the City's Council Palacio Pedro Ernesto, our National Library and the Fine Art Museum and of course we could visit CINELANDIA, in my opinion one of the most interesting spots in our Centro.

And we decided to have some very brazilian to eat...we did not have Feijoada as we wanted, but we had an encounter with the best of our PETISCOS (brazilian snacks) in our most famous BAR AND RESTAURANT AT CENTRO, site of our "happy hour", place where every single person from different part of the city just sit to talk about daily life (the COTIDIANO)...We ate at AMARELINHO....
Very traditional and Itálicoold bar in the heart of our Downtown, this is place very soon will turn 100 years and still follows the tradition of serving prime food for every client...

The 13 of us sat and we order some drinks as the heat was intense, and I was really in the mood to find what we could eat in a very brazilian way, so I ordered the most common snacks: CALABRESA COM FRITAS (pork sausage with chips), GURJÃO DE PEIXE (pieces of fried fish filet in a tartar sauce), CHURRASQUINHO (barbicued beef) and the traditional and yummy BOLINHO DE BACALHAU (cod fish balls); we had a lovely time and we could rest a little to continue our walking journey through the soul of Rio de Janeiro.

We made our way to Lapa...the capital of night fun in Rio for years and years...this is the bohemian spot where we can experience real samba in the various old samba houses like Carioca da Gema, Sacrilegio, Democraticos, Circo Voador and Rio Scenarium. We saw some abandoned (and beautiful buildings that deserves preservation urgent) houses in our way to the Stairs of Selaron.
Well, that deserves a special paragraph...when we reached the Street Joaquim Silva where the stairs finish...we come across with a majestic master man coming from Chile a little bit more of 20 years ago, starting putting tiles in one of the many stairways of Santa Tereza (another very old neighborhood of Rio), one by one, giving colors and life to one simple place in the area....the result of 20 years hard working made such a wonder of MEN'S CREATION.... THE ESCADARIA SELARON...his name is Selaron and he gave to Rio such a great people from different parts of the World bring a tyle from their homalends and Selaron put it in the walls or ground of the stairs.
And Selaron is also a talented painter and he always invites us to visit his work shop where you can see his paitings with scenes of Rio, scenes of our Favelas and the his mark...pregnant women that he says it is a personal problem when we asked him why so many pregnant woman in his Art... This we will never know, but we have some conclusions that I will talk to you in person...
Finally we took 3 taxis to go to the other side of Centro...we visited our Monastery, the São Bento Monastery, our first impressive barroc construction. Actually it started as a small chapel erected by spanish monks in 1500s...and they finished the construction between 1576 and 1590...This is a great sample of our portuguese barroc architecture which is very simple from outside but when we go to the interior of the church we simply find out ANOTHER PLANET...old images of Saints like Bras, Edviges, Gonsalo...carved wood covered by gold leaves, absolutely gorgeous afrescos.

We used metro, our legs, taxis and bus in this great trip in one side of Rio that hardly noone is a Rio where we can really see the "face" of Brazil; it is a Rio full of European Stories, it is a Rio that only locals can understand and now our guests had the great opportunity to understand more about our simple and fascinating daily life...A Rio de Janei ro made for you to fall in love with the city and come back more and more!!!
Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner

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