South America Day 16 - Rio

Last night we went to the Samba show at the Famous Plataforma. I had read that the show was a typical tourist attraction and partly because it was poorly attended last night it was, as one of the group said, a bit like the Irish dancing shows in Juries Hotel. Purely for the tourist and not of much substance. The costumes were colourful the acrobatics were good and one of the dancers was very good but overall a bit disappointing and not as good as the Tango night in BA which had much more to offer. A pity but I suppose everything can't be perfect. Afterwards we sat at one of the beachside bars and and a few drinks. An interesting incident somewhat sums up Rio and Copacabana. As we had just come back from the Samba club and I had my camera with me I wasn't going to bother putting it up in the room but just take it with me to the bar. But as I was leaving the hotel one of the hefty doormen looked concerned went back into the hotel and the concierge came out in a sort of panic and told me not secure to go out with camera and said he would hold it for me at the hotel counter. It reinforces the tension that one feels once it gets dark you never feel quite safe which is a great pity for such a beautiful city. It makes me appreciate more what we have at home but also in Marbella Spain where we feel safe to walk the streets even late at night and with the children.

Today we decided to head to Ipanema to see what it is like there. It is definitely a much nicer town with good shopping and little parks and a lovely lake. But it's also more expensive. There is not much difference between the beaches though. In fact the beach life is quite amazing. Different parts of the beaches have different crowds: teenagers, families, gays, etc. But they all have very good facilities. There are little bars every 50 meters or so. You don't need to bring anything with you as you can get your chairs, umbrellas, drinks there on the beach. There are volley ball, net ball, beach soccer-volley courts, outdoor gyms, cycle and running paths, free WIFI and of course the sea, beautiful beaches and beautiful people. A real paradise during daylight hours and a contrast to how it feels at night.

Tonight we have to pick a restaurant for our last holiday meal, that should be interesting.

We selected a Spanish Restaurant called Shirley. When we arrived we had to wait, it was a bit small, expensive, specialises in fish, and looked to be on a dodgy street so we decided to seek out a food bar friends had eaten at nearby. On the way we came across a lovely restaurant called Galleria 1618 set up in 2006 by two French ex-pats. And what a surprise it turned out to be. It has a lovely atmosphere, well decorated, friendly staff and the food was great. But the best part was the 4 piece Brazilian band, Furia Gitana (Passion Gypsie). Guitar, violin, a percussion and a singer. They are absolutely fantastic playing a mixture of Brazilian/Spanish music. Very similar to the Gypsy Kings in fact playing much of their hits. They are brilliant musicians with great voices. A fantastic last night to a great holiday.

In addition a Brazilian girl named Louisa and related to one of the band members says hello and asks where we are from. When we say Dublin she tells us she has been living in Dublin 3 The North Strand for the last two years with her Irish boyfriend whom she met in a bar on Copacabana. She's a lovely girl and great fun.

Tomorrow we head home with a late evening flight and we are looking forward to seeing the girls.