Rio — City Tour By Jeep

Stairs of Selaron in Lapa

Stairs of Selaron in Lapa

Today’s city tour was by 10 passenger open air jeep with Sergio as our guide. Even though it was a beautiful day it was a little windy so Before we took off we had them close the top cover, leaving just the sides open. First stop was downtown to 15 November Square also known as “15 Square”. This is the historical centre, a public park, an area best seen and safe during the day. It’s the location of the Imperial Palace, where Princess Isabel signed the law which ended slavery in Brazil in 1888. This is also where one takes the ferry to Niteroi. If driving, the bridge from Rio to Niteroi is 14 km.

Someone needed the ATM, someone needed a camera store but what we thought was “just over there” turned out to us being shown on foot enough of downtown Rio to last a lifetime. There was no way we were walking back to from whence we came to connect with the jeep. My instruction to Sergio, “Call the driver and have him pick us up”. After getting back on track, we stopped at the San Sebastián Cathedral, also called the New Cathedral. The design is very different with beautiful stained glass windows to the top in this conical shaped building. It has a natural lighting and air conditioning system and has the standing capacity of 20,000 pople.

The jeep easily navigated the narrow street leading up to the Selaron staircase which is situated between Lapa and Santa Teresa. Even though Selaron is gone, his presence is felt. The area is alive and bustling and now there is a poster of him near the entrance in his memory. As we passed through Lapa, workers were busy blocking the streets and preparing for their weekly weekend street party. Lapa takes on the ambiance and atmosphere of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Leaving Lapa, we worked our way up to Santa Teresa, known for its winding, narrow, steep cobblestone streets. It’s filled with colorful, colonial buildings and has become a favorite for artists with studios, galleries, bars, and restaurants. One thing now missing is the historic electric tram which connected the city center with the inner city neighborhood of this area. The tram was taken out of service late 2011 due to a disastrous accident. It’s a quaint laid back area, away from the beach scene but one definitely must stay alert as it abuts the Santa Amaro favela.

Imperial Palace in Square 15 where proclamation was signed that abolished slavery in 1888

Imperial Palace in Square 15 where proclamation was signed that abolished slavery in 1888

Selaron's staircase in Lapa

Selaron’s staircase in Lapa

After the jeep dropped us off back at the hotel, the Military Police were lined up to escort the Venezuela soccer team (guests at our hotel) to their game. Marilyn got a nice picture with these handsome young men. The young folks had their own agenda while the Aarps had theirs. Personally, I headed straight to the rooftop to enjoy my lunch in solitude while enjoying the fantastic panoramic view of Copacabana.

Tonight was dinner at a churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse) followed by the high energy Samba Show at Plataforma 1 in Leblon. Some call it a tourist trap but it depends. Their number 1 mistake is having dinner there before the show. My suggestion is dine wherever you choose and then go to the show. The costumes, dancers, capoeira performance, and the drumming is all top notch, that is all except the opening act of the little chick bouncing the soccer ball on her head. In my opinion, her act should be replaced. At any rte, the show is fun-filled and quite enjoyable. Was I in for a big surprise?? At the finale, the MC,who must speak 20 languages, invites people on stage to sing and represent their respective countries. I could not believe my ears when I heard him say, “Kat St Thomas”, WTF? Me? Chillin with my shoes off?, go on stage and sing New York, New York? I thought native New Yorker, Marilyn, would have been best suited but no she threw me under the bus. Matt, joined me on stage, and did his thing, said he didn’t care, wouldn’t see these people again. I knew some of the words but We would have done better with 2Pac’s “California Love” —
California knows how to party, in the city of L.A., in the city of good ol Watts, in the city of Compton, we keep it rockin’ Shake, shake it baby, shake it for me……

If you never plan to make it to Carnival, this experience is one not to miss.
Tomorrow, an 11am flight to Salvador da Bahia.

Samba show

Samba show

Samba Show

Samba Show

4 thoughts on “Rio — City Tour By Jeep

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