After a marathon multi-modal travel day (by boat, bus and plane), on March 21st, we returned to Rio. We had a night on our own, so one of our intrepid fellow travelers, Bonnie “BB” Hanlon, joined us for a magical dinner at a really cool restaurant high up in one of the cool neighborhoods in Rio, Santa Teresa. The restaurant we ate at, Aprazível, was very reminiscent of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at Disneyland.
The following morning, many of our crew went for a restorative walk on Ipanema Beach. Jim and I; not so much! We met up with the gang about 10:30 and then drove to see the Samba-drome. This is the parade route for all of the samba schools to strut their stuff during Carnival. The rest of the year, its just a street with concrete bleachers, but you can imagine the excitement.
Following this, we went back to the Santa Teresa neighborhood to an old established restaurant called Portela’s where they serve the iconic Brazilian dish called feijoada. This yummy meal is a stew of black beans and pork (including smoked pork) and seasonings simmered over a low, slow heat. The feijoada is then embellished with a variety of condiments including the ever-present manioc flour, and stewed greans. The whole thing is served over white rice.
If you guessed that this started out as basic stick to your ribs food for slaves and the poorer classes, you would be right. However, it’s now probably considered to be the national dish of Brazil, and Portela’s did a fabulous rendition of it! We were surrounded by locals also enjoying their Sunday feijoada meals to the accompaniment of live samba music and cold caipirinhas. Not a bad way to kick off our last day in Rio!
Following lunch, we went to a nearby civic beautification project which is just amazing. In the 1990s when crime was rampant in and around the Santa Teresa neighborhood, a local artist named Selaron decided to do what he could to take back his neighborhood. He decided to accomplish this by creating an art installation up a set of stairs which were being usedfor other, darker, criminal activities. He started installing tiles on the sides and stairs of this area, and even building benches and platforms where his neighbors could gather in peace and enjoy his artistic contributions. His experiment worked because now this area is a mini-oasis, and tourists from around the world visit here and pay homage to what are now known as the Selaron stairs. You can call his artist vision edgy and non-conventional but no one can deny its beauty.
Next, we returned to Sugar Loaf Mountain so this tour group could enjoy the wonders of the view. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and rainy so the views were somewhat obscured. I did catch one of the resident monkeys at play, and got my latest pano shot.
Our last night in Rio was on our own, and after being trapped on Copacabana Beach by a near biblical deluge, we decided just to eat at the restaurant next door to our hotel. The next morning, it was off to Lima to enjoy our assault on Machu Picchu and the Galápagos. Farewell, Rio!