Thursday, December 19, 2013

…And Rio Begins!

Max and I flew to Rio with some of the Corteo crew on Tuesday. I don't go back to work until December 23rd, so we have a full week off to explore the City of God. I have been so excited about Rio since I was offered the contract with Cirque, and I have built all of these expectations up in my mind. I was a little nervous before we left Curitiba because I had spent so much time dwelling on Rio; I thought that I might be disappointed.

The view of Rio about two minutes before we landed!
It was a cloudy day, but usually you can see Christ the Redeemer from the tallest mountain near the right side of the picture. It was beautiful nonetheless.

Landing in Rio

Rest assured, I don't think Rio could disappoint me if it tried its hardest. Yes, I just personified a city. The mountains collide with the ocean, and the rainforest collides with the city. The poor reside in favelas that are barely separated from million dollar second-home condos owned by the wealthiest in the population. White sand beaches stretch for miles, and you can find pick up volleyball and futbol games, bars, surfers, sunbathers, favela kids swimming, tourists strolling, and cariocas (locals) long boarding. The people watching beats Santa Monica tenfold, and whereas most major cities contain some kind of nature, Rio's majestic nature contains a city. They have caipirinhas (alcoholic beverage containing cachaça, sugar cane, and lime or other fruits like kiwi, strawberry, or passion fruit), fresh coco water, frozen acai, and caldo de cana (sugar cane juice). Rio has the samba, Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana, and Pao de Açucar. Someone asked me if I thought it would be difficult to spend 10 weeks in Rio- I'll let you know in 10 weeks, but I have a feeling I'll be A-okay.

After we landed, we quickly got our bags and hit the shuttles to head to the hotel. Unfortunately, we hit the middle of the city at 5 PM. Fortunately, we were driving along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches for about half an hour. I wasn't complaining. We got to our hotel a little later, and found that our hotel room faces a beautiful mountain and the pool area with glimpses of the palm trees that line the ocean. I think we can manage to adapt to our new accommodations without any problems (minus the fact that the toilet seat doesn't stay up for Max).

The view from the pool area looking out onto the beach

Visiting the pool right after we landed! I have a feeling
we will be frequenting the pool area.

Hang gliders coming down from the mountain
behind our hotel! They land about a 5 minute walk down
the beach! Max and I are planning to take the leap
within the next few weeks! :)

Although I've only been on tour in two cities, I've come to realize that the hotel's amenities are extremely important for tour life. For instance, our last hotel had a kitchenette so Max could cook regularly, but this hotel only has a (extra) small fridge. While we might not have a kitchen and the internet is light years slower, there is an outdoor pool with a pool bar, a burger and hot dog restaurant, a slightly fancier and healthier restaurant, free apples and candy at the front desk, free shuttles to the city center and beach areas, a large gym with DRINKABLE water from the drinking fountain, and we have a balcony with a spectacular view. On a more practical level, we have high water pressure, a KING sized bed, and counter space in the bathroom. Our curtains also close ALL the way, which makes late night shows bearable after sleeping in peacefully. The sun is bright in Brazil in the summertime :).  When your home is one enclosed room, sometimes the small things are often the most important!

Enough about the hotel. After we explored the hotel, we were pretty exhausted. We walked about a block to the mall next door, which has a Starbucks (!!!!!), walked back and had burgers from the hotel's restaurant, and spent some time talking to friends outside on a patio. After too much circus talk, we headed upstairs for bed.

Wednesday, Max and I woke up and had our first breakfast at the hotel. It blows the complimentary breakfasts from the last two hotels out of the water. I usually sleep through breakfast, but it's really nice for Max to be able to eat from a generous and fairly healthy buffet in the mornings. It saves us LOTS of money because it takes a lot to feed his body! After breakfast, we walked to the Super Market about 10 minutes away. We noticed people staring at us more and more as we got closer to the Super Market, and I was honestly a little uncomfortable. When we got fairly close, we realized that the Super Market is at the base of the largest favela in Rio. I was wearing brightly colored Lululemon, my blonde hair was down, and I had on a pair of Oakley's. I couldn't have looked more like a Gringo, and I felt like an idiot.

On the way to the Super Market this morning. The largest 
favela in Rio, Rocinha, resides on this hillside, and although this
isn't the best picture, the favelas are something incredible
to see in person.

After we grabbed some groceries, we headed back to the hotel. We relaxed for a bit, and then we took a shuttle with some other Corteo peeps to a mall at the city center. The mall was so big; I felt like I was at the Mall of America. We only ate lunch there, but Alix and I already have plans to head back and spend some girl time shopping! 

From the mall, Gabby, Alix, Max, and I grabbed a taxi to the base of Pao de Açùcar. We started along the base of the mountain at a beach, and we decided to hike up the first of two mountains that lead to the lookout of Pao de Açúcar. The hike was a bit more of a workout than we anticipated, but it was worth it to experience a climb through the rainforest. 

Pao de Açúcar in the background!

Here we come!

 This is what being awesome looks like.

Climbing mountains in our spare time

Is he falling or standing? This picture confuses me.

The hike!

Forest roots

View of Rio from the hike

He's always climbing something! These weren't the monkeys
I was talking about.

Pao de Açúcar from the top of the first mountain


Our new little friend!

Ignore my ratty hair…
but is that monkey not the cutest?!

I love this one!

Eatin' them bugs

After we hiked up the first mountain, we realized that we needed to buy tickets for the cable at the bottom of the mountain! We had to go back down and buy the tickets, and then we took the cable cars up. I think cable cars might be the scariest thing ever. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to be hanging from a cable in a giant enclosed box, but I was scared for my life. My stomach was queasy from the height, but the views were out of a fairytale.

The weather was fairly cloudy, so the top of the mountain was freezing. We want to go back again on a sunny day to see the sunset. We heard that it’s beautiful to see the city lights at night as well. I’m sure there’s never a bad day to see Rio from Pao de Açúcar!

Rio from the top of the first mountain

 Amazing view of the marina and the favelas between the mountains!

 We saw a rainbow!!!!

Pao de Açúcar

From the cable car on the way to the top!

From the top looking down on the first mountain,
and of course, Rio!

Max giving me some friction :)

Husband and wife

Brother and sister :)

 Normally, the Christ the Redeemer statue is visible, so we have to go back on a clearer day.
I'm not complaining though!

I just realized that I've seen Chicago from Hancock, Montreal from Mont Royal, and Rio from Pao de Açúcar all within the past year! I'm also a flyer, so it's about time I stop shaking from heights!

Our first day of exploring Rio involved hiking, monkeys, aerial views of the city, and great friends. We are loving Rio already, and we are so happy to be living in this beautiful city for the next 10 weeks! 

Check back soon now, y'all!

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