Rio redux

After a hearty breakfast, Adam and I headed out to downtown Rio to check out some of the churches and museums there. I have to confess that I hadn’t been impressed with the architecture I’d seen in Rio during our earlier visit but downtown Rio seemed to have a number of historic buildings that gave the area an ambiance we hadn’t seen in most other Latin American cities we’ve visited. We visited a number of churches, Paco Imperial which previously served as the federal headquarters of the country and now serves as the municipal headquarters of Rio.

Igreja da Candelaria

Igreja da Candelaria

unknown cathedral downtown Rio

Paco Imperial interior

Paco Imperial

Afterwards, we went to Museu Historico Nacional which turned out to be my favorite museum of the ones we visited in Brazil, containing many historic Brazilian artifacts as well as temporary exhibits on contemporary Brazilian art and Asian artifacts. The clouds started to break at that point so we decided to hop on a ferry to Niteroi and go to the Museu de Arte Contemporanea, a museum housed in a building designed by famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, boasting gorgeous views of the ocean and Rio.

Museu de Arte Contemporanea exterior 1

Museu de Arte Contemporanea interior 1

Museu de Arte Contemporanea interior 2

Museu de Arte Contemporanea interior 3

We tried taking a taxi back to the ferry terminal but our taxi driver drove us in the opposite direction despite my numerous attempts to explain where we wanted to go (he also looked a lot like John C Reilly fueling our suspicions that he either wasn’t very intelligent or he was trying to play the fool) so we ended up catching a bus to the ferry terminal area and squeezing in some shopping at a mall across the street from the terminal. After getting back to Ipanema we did a little more shopping (we weren’t leaving Brazil without half a suitcase full of cachaca, after all) and then ran back to our hotel to take a cab to the airport.

My general impressions of Brazil?

Brazilians are super nice and friendly–I would say maybe even the warmest people we’ve met in our travels.

The one thing I didn’t love was the heat–it was super hot in the Pantanal and Salvador and it was only the spring! I can’t imagine what it must be like during the summer. It’s the kind of heat that makes you reluctant to walk outside certainly during the afternoon. I was perpetually uncomfortable in Brazil–even in Rio where it was cooler due to the high humidity.

Brazil is surprisingly expensive.  I knew it wouldn’t be inexpensive–the real increased against the dollar 40% this year alone–but I was surprised that, overall, prices of things like hotels, dining out, taxis, and clothes are quite high.

One thing I had really been looking forward to was the food but the food we had was frequently disappointing. Part of the reason may be that I don’t love moqueca (not too fond of sweeter savory foods), part of reason may be we didn’t get to try as many of the restaurants I wanted to try on this trip as we had on previous trips. Additionally, I’m not a huge fan of heavy foods, particularly in hot weather–feijoada, after all, is not necessarily the food you want to be digesting while walking around in 90 degree weather.

On the flip side, there are a ton of fruits in Brazil and I had really been looking forward to trying a number of them but shortage of time and my extremely limited Portuguese comprehension ultimately meant I tried only a handful of Brazilian fruits. Returning home, I discovered that strawberries are no longer in season and, therefore, more expensive and I thought, do any fruits in Brazil ever go out of season?

There is also a ton to see in Brazil and we only scratched the surface in the cities we visited–I wish we had had more time to get to know the country better!

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