South America Day 14 - Rio

Up early again for our second trip in Rio and the weather is brilliant again just perfect for our trip up the Sugar Loaf that overlooks the bay and its entry. Luis explains the origin of the name. When it was first named sugar cane was boiled and would solidify in a conical bowl. When the sugar was removed from the bowl it naturally took on the shape of the bowl and the mountain looks exactly like this shape hence the name. As we are there early we are on the first cable car of the day. There are two stages to the trip the first stage is to a mountain about half the size of the Sugar Loaf itself. Here there are shops, restaurants and of course great views. This is also right on the flight path to the domestic airport. In fact as the planes turn in towards the airport the are actually level or below you. After a look around and some information from Luis we head to the second cable car to the Sugar Loaf.

There is another platform area with shops and coffee areas though not as big as the first stop off. The views are naturally spectacular especially with the weather being so good and clear. From here we can see all around the bay, downtown and over the mountains behind Copacabana that would obscure our view from anywhere else of our beach. I don't like to keep using the word spectacular but it all is. Luis brings our attention to a family of tiny monkeys which I think he called Star Faced monkeys.

Our next stop is the Maracana soccer stadium which held the world cup final in 1950 and will again host it in 2014. When it was built originally it held 200,000 people but now due to FIFA regulations about all stadiums being fully seated its capacity is now 120,000 still very impressive. Luis arranges for tickets for four of the gang to go to a match here tonight.

The final two stops on our trip are the carnival stadium and the cathedral. Rio of course is famous for it's carnival held every year at the start of Lent. It lasts for nearly a week and everything closes down, including shops, banks the civil device etc. We are shown the main strip where the carnival passes judges and the stadium that holds over 80,000 people that view the procession. It's now coming up to midday and the heat is searing, it's hard to imagine how hot it feels during the summer.

Our last stop is the cathedral which is a modern building built in 1970 and is another fantastic sight. It is built like a bee hive. The walls are built with open squares which allows hot air to rise and cool air to circulate below. At the compass points north, south, east and west are exquisite huge stain glass windows that rise from above the entries to the top of the of the cathedral.

That completes the tour and we are brought to a restaurant for lunch but Ann and Mary decide to try the hang-gliding and Luis brings them to this. After a bit of lunch and some shopping we siesta before heading out for dinner while the 4 head off to their football match.

That finishes our tours although we considered some other options but in the end we decided that we would just go to a samba show tomorrow night and chill out and enjoy the hotel pool and beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

View of Copacabana from Sugar Loaf.