We left our hotel for a city tour at 9:00 am on Saturday that took us to the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain. The tram is a 15 minute ride up the mountain, and we got really lucky because it was a crystal clear day. Normally the statue is shrouded in cloud because of its height. We learned that Rio de Janeiro translates to River of January. The Portuguese thought the bay was the mouth of a huge river, and they arrived in January, hence Rio de Janeiro. Turned out there was no river, but the name stuck.
From the top of the mountain you can see Botafogo Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, and the Formula 1 racetrack. We also saw the Cathedral with its beautiful stained glass panels, and then traveled to the gondola on Sugarloaf Mountain. For James Bond fans, this is where Jaws and Bond fight on the tram in the movie Moonraker. The tour took the entire day, and we arrived back at our hotel at 5:30.
We stayed in a new area called Barra da Tijuca. Their beach runs a stunning 17 kilometres of the cleanest and finest sand in the world. People play footvolley, a combination of football and volleyball, as any other body other than hands can be used to volley the ball over the net.
There was no schedule for Sunday, so everyone relaxed on the beach while the adventurous body surfed the waves; a few sore muscles today but no injuries. We also took in the “hippy market” in Ipanema, a Sunday market where artisans sell their wares, and concluded our weekend stay in Rio with an evening beach party. We are now off to Sao Paulo for more company and university visits.