It was a short trip overnight to Búzios from Rio. We didn’t have an excursion planned for today so we slept in late, had a pleasant breakfast in the dinning room, and then headed into town.
Búzios is definitely a party type of town. With 23 separate beaches and a bar and hotel every block, it’s the “in” place to be. The town was put on the map by film star Bridget Bardot (the town placed a sculpture of her on the beachfront). Ever since Bridget first “hid” here with her Brazilian boyfriend in 1964, a litany of world stars, from Mick Jagger to Madonna, have followed her path. None left quite the impression Bardot did. Her declaration of love for the tiny fishing village catapulted it into the global spotlight and led to its inevitable, albeit tastefully restrained, development as a hub of upmarket tourism. These days it is, rather unsurprisingly, known as Brazil’s St Tropez.
We walked through the quaint little streets, looked at the weird artwork, viewed another of the town’s landmarks, the sculpture called “Três Pescadores” of fishermen hauling in their nets, had a huge lunch at one of the restaurants, and just walked around and enjoyed the laid back vibe.
It was then back to the ship and off to our next stop Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.
This was the first port day on this trip where we did not have an excursion planned. From what we were told, there was a new museum (The Museum of Tomorrow) within walking distance along the pier. Ron also had a plan to find a new cover for his iPad and look for a Starbucks to see if they had any demitasse cups printed with the local cities such as we purchased on the Grand World Voyage last year. Leaving the port, we saw a huge mural (registered in the Guinness Book as the largest mural) that was completed before the Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
The Museum of Tomorrow is a huge structure that looks like a spaceship. The museum describes the effect man is having on the world and what sorts of decisions we need to make in the future. Basically it is a positive message and the presentations inside the museum are phenomenal. My favorite stops were a digital camera that takes your image and displays it in a cubist sort of image. I didn’t actually get the point of the display since it was all in Portuguese. There was another demonstration that everything is in constant motion using two gauzy pieces of cloth being lifted by jets of air in a random and beautiful way.
As you left the building out the back, you saw a beautiful star sculpture that represented the future. This museum was well worth the visit.
We headed into town which seemed like the business district during lunch time. Many business people were walking around, many seemed to be eating ice cream. We also found streets with tiny booths selling electronic accessories and in a slightly larger shop Ron found his iPad cover. Score one. We did find a Starbucks (as well as several McDonald’s and Subway restaurants). Unfortunately, the small cups they were selling said Brasil and São Paulo instead of Brasil and Rio de Janeiro, so we passed on that souvenir. We found several streets filled with street vendors, but we did not find anything to buy. Also by this time it was getting very hot and humid (90+ degrees).
We made it back to the ship in time to cool down before dinner. As we ate, the ship left port and Ron was able to capture one last great image of Christ the Redeemer on a mountain seemingly dwarfed by Sugarloaf Mountain. Goodbye, Rio.
After a rest of two days at sea we docked in Rio De Janeiro at about 7:00 am. It was dark, misty, and raining which didn’t bode well for our 8 hour tour.
Our first stop was at Corcovado mountain and the statue of “Christ The Redeemer” overlooking Rio. In order to get there you board a tram for the 25 minute trip to the top. Once you get there you have to go up 2 sets of escalators to reach the Statue and those magnificent views of Rio.
Sadly that was not to be. The mist stayed around at the summit and, even though it’s huge, we saw no view of Rio and were barely able to see the statue (top picture) which pales to what we should have seen (bottom picture). We waited 25 minutes at the summit for the mist to clear then we had to start our trip back down. About 10 minutes into our journey down, we got our last view of the summit, and it was perfectly clear! Argh! So we had to settle for a view from one of our next stops, Sugarloaf mountain (right Picture). But we were able to get a great picture of Rio from the tram.
From then on the weather was beautiful. Where a week ago we were talking about how cold it was, now were complaining about how hot it is. It was in the low 90s and high humidity.
On our way to the next major stop, Sugarloaf Mountain, we drove by two of the most famous beaches: Ipanema and Copacabana.
While viewing Ipanema beach, our guide showed us the statue of the song writer of “The Girl From Ipanema”. The girl is real but is about 75 years old now.
Next we traveled to Copacabana. We made a quick picture stop here but we did see a great sand sculpture there!
It was now time for lunch. We went to the “Fogo de Chão” Churrascaria restaurant. It is a Brazilian steakhouse. On each table is what looks like a cardboard coaster. One side is red and the other green. When you get to the table, the coaster is red. You go to the buffet and a get a plate of side dishes, potatoes, vegetables, etc. Once you return to the table, you turn the coaster to green, then the fun begins.
Until you turn the coaster to red, huge skewers of meat are brought to your table for your choice: sirloin, beef ribs, beef sausage, spicy sausage, pork roast, chicken legs, chicken hearts, and others. This place is all you can eat.
After gorging ourselves we reluctantly left the restaurant for our last stop of the day, Sugarloaf Mountain. It is known worldwide for its cable cars and panoramic views of Rio.
To reach the summit, you have to take two cable cars. Each cable car is capable of holding 65 people. The first cable car ascends to the shorter mountain Morro de Urca, 220 m (722 ft) high.
The second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar, 396 m (1,299 ft) with terrific views of Rio. Of course, at each level, there are restaurants and souvenirs stores aplenty.
After descending, we made our way back to the ship.
When you look at a map of South America, you will see that Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Punta del Este all lie on the Rio de Plata, a very wide-mouthed river between Argentina and Uruguay. The travel between these cities takes all night because the ship kind of wanders in circles in the ocean to be able to arrive in port at the appointed time. Anyway, we arrived at Punta del Este (sometimes called the St. Tropez of South America) which is a nice getaway destination for Argentinians, especially during Carnival weekend. The beaches are beautiful and many hotels have been built to cater to the tourists. It happened to be rainy on the day we came into port. Our tour guide explained that this is odd, but wonderful since the area has been in a drought. Coming from Southern California, we certainly sympathize with these people, so we continued on our tour in the rain.
There are a few very interesting sights in the area, besides the beaches. A famous sculpture called, “La Mano”, (the hand), by Chilean artist, Mario Irarrázabal is along one beach. I copied a photo from the internet because Ron’s image in the rain only shows four fingers due to the number of tourists in the way.
We saw an interesting bridge built with a distinct wave. It was pretty interesting driving over it in a fast bus. We also visited a Gaudi-inspired building on the beach by Carlos Paez Vilaro called “Casa Pueblo”.
After this city tour, we headed off to the country for lunch at a ranch called Siglio XX. It is an alpaca farm as well as a restaurant, museum and small resort. The alpacas were cute. I was surprised to read that their wool is only harvested once a year.
We were greeted as we walked up to the ranch house with an assortment of beverages and were handed a beef empanada almost before we sat down. A salad bar was set up and trays of cooked meats were brought to each table. My favorite was the sausage (beef chorizo) but I was not brave enough to eat the round, black blood sausage. Ron ate the flan with dulce de leche while I had strawberries and whipped cream.
It was a very quiet ride back to the pier since most of us napped after the wonderful meal. That night we left the port on our way to Rio de Janeiro.
Luckily, we had two sea days before we reached Rio. During those days I worked on some art projects while Ron took some more cooking classes and attended some lectures. The ladies at our dining table were very taken with the Gauchos when they visited the Pampas. I drew one for them. I had to use pictures from the internet… one of the gaucho and a different one for the horse.
After the long and tiring day yesterday, we decided to do a short and fun tour today: a culinary walk in Buenos Aires. We got a real treat with this tour as we got to sleep in! Our tour didn’t start until 10:30 (the tours usually start at the 8:00) so we had a leisurely breakfast then off to the tour.
The tour started with a two hour bus ride around the city where we revisited several of the sites from yesterday. It was great to see them again without buckets of rain!
One new location was a bridge called “Woman’s Bridge” located in the Puerto Madero district where all the streets are named after women. The architect has described the design as a synthesis of the image of a couple dancing the Tango. Residents can’t seem to decide if they agree or not!
Then the Culinary part of the tour started. The tour visited 4 locations starting with an appetizer of beef empanada at “La Guittarrita”, a first course of two small sandwiches (beef and Beef Chorizo) at “La Cañita”, the main course starting with Fried Cheese (yum!), a giant platter of beef roasts, squash, French fries, rice, and more fried cheese at “Las Cholas”, and finally, two scoops of ice cream (chocolate mousse, Dulche de Leche w/Caramel sauce) at “Persicco”. There was also a paired wine for each course (not with dessert). Each of these locations were selected as they had some unique spin on typical Argentinian food.
We returned to the ship at 3:00. Next up, Dinner at 5:30, ugh!
Sadly, tonight we leave Buenos Aires and move onto our next stop, Punta del Este, Uruguay.