- Rio De Janeiro, Cidade Maravihosa -
Rio De Janeiro, cidade maravihosa (marvelous city), as it is known in Brazil, is one of the most spectacular cruise destinations in the world. The ground the city stands on was inhabited by the Tamoio people when Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos discovered Guanabara Bay in 1502. Thinking he had sailed into the mouth of a great river, Lemos named the area Rio de Janeiro. Having a distaste for the cruelty exhibited by his fellow Portuguese, Lemos formed an alliance with the French who became the first Europeans to settle in the area. But they were expelled a little more than half a century later. By the beginning of the 17th century the Tamoio were no more.
In 1807, fleeing Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal, Dom Joao, Prince of Portugal set sail for Brazil with a large entourage. Upon his arrival in Rio he fell in love with the city, and named it the capital of the United Kingdom of Brazil, and himself as its monarch. Brazil became the only colony in the world with a European monarch ruling on its soil.
In the early 20th century, Rio De Janeiro became a favorite destination for the rich and famous, and it remained the capital of Brazil until the city of Brazilia claimed that distinction in 1960.
Rio saw bad times during the period of military dictatorship which ended in 1985. Today it is bustling city of approximately 12 million people, and an unparalleled cruise destination.
We traveled to Rio De Janeiro with Celebrity Cruises. On our voyage we discovered that H. Stern, the world famous jewelers whose world headquarters are in the city, had booked passage aboard our ship for a company representative. He was a very pleasant fellow assigned the task of channeling cruise passengers to visit and tour the H. Stern factory. He offered a free full day tour of Rio to entice us. We joined another couple in a small, comfortable van for the tour. While our driver spoke no English, the tour guide was an engaging Brazilian college student who spoke English fluently.
We visited Sugar Loaf Mountain, The Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Ipanema Beach, and Copacabana Beach.
Rio De Janeiro – Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf Mountain is one of Rio’s most famous landmarks. We arrived at the cable car platform ahead of the ship’s tours and rode to the top of Sugar Loaf before the crowds arrived. The views from the top were awe inspiring, and a highlight of our visit.
Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches were beautiful, but not more spectacular than our beaches in South Florida. Beautiful girls decorated the sand, and beach volleyball was the sport of the day. What would a visit to Rio be without a visit with the “Girl From Ipanema”?
At midday we visited the H. Stern factory. The tour was self guided, brief and interesting. We were then given an opportunity to see and purchase H. Stern jewelry. The salesman was polite, showed us only what we wanted to see, and did not pressure us in any way. After an hour at the factory we were on our way to Corcovado Mountain. Along the way we stopped for lunch at Marius, a churrascaria and pescataria (meat and seafood restaurant) across from Copacabana Beach. We chose the seafood side and were taken to a room dominated by an extraordinary buffet. At table side, waiters carrying platters offered a wide variety of fish, lobsters, and quarter pound shrimp. Obviously this was not going to be inexpensive, but we were still shocked when the check for four came to $425 USD. You be the judge if it was worth it! In the end H. Stern picked up the tab as a good will gesture.
Rio De Janeiro – Christ the Redeemer
Our visit to the top of Corcovado Mountain to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer capped a wonderful day of touring. The Statue is made of concrete and soapstone, stands a full 130 feet tall, and weighs 635 tons. It was designed by engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, completed in 1931, and funded by public donations. Today it looks over Rio like a guardian, and has become the symbol of the city.
As our wonderful day in Rio was ending, we were happy, tired and certain we had only scratched the surface of what Rio De Janeiro was all about. An evening at a samba club would have been nice. Oh well, next cruise!
Happy Cruising – Andrew Kruglanski. Explore our exciting cruise blog.
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