After landing in the rain last night, we woke to a clear morning on Copacabana beach. Jim and I had breakfast and set out walking on the iconic Portuguese sidewalk (this time in a beautiful black and white wave pattern which is the symbol of Copacabana).
Then we met up with our tour group and joined them for our welcome briefing and lunch. After lunch, I took off to tour the HStern jewelry factory with two of our new tour mate,. then we met up with the rest of the group to walk along the Copacabana beach boardwalk.
We stopped and talked to two policemen about the crime issues in Rio, and particularly, in the favelas. They were very candid about the realities, and the lack of support sometimes from the government. Interestingly, they were of the opinion that a recent campaign to clean up crime in the favelas, while helping overall, had in some ways pushed criminals out into the wider city. There´s a whole night life that blooms on Copacabana about 6 in the evening as the beachgoers go home. Every night, there´s a night market in the center median of the street, and all the bar and juice stands along the street start playing live music. Our group walked along the beach from our hotel to the fort. Our hotel (Hotel Rio Othon Palace) has a killer location right on the beach, but candidly, it´s kind of dumpy! After our walk, our welcome dinner was held at the Brazilian steak house (churrascaria) in the Copacabana Palace. Really a great dinner, and we´re looking forward to getting to know our tour mates better. This time its a really small group (only 13 of us) so learning people´s names should be relatively easy this time around.
The next morning kicked off with another visit to Corcovado so our new tour mates could see the Christ Redeemer and the Municipal Cathedral. Even though we´d already done this, we decided to tag along so we could bond with the group. Besides, lunch was planned for Columbo´s restaurant /bakery, and there was no way we were missing that. After lunch, we did a walking tour of the downtown/historical district, which was new to us. Our roll out time the next morning was obscenely early, so we could catch our flight to Salvador. We´re really looking forward to seeing parts of Brazil other than Rio, so off we go!