The cab ride from the airport was quite the experience. While we were in the Foz de Iquassu airport a nice gentleman suggested the red or blue cabs as the safest and they had fixed rates as well. The yellow cabs are metered and we could have really been taken for a ride getting to the airport. It was a ride as is with huge traffic jams in three or four places, vendors standing in the middle of 4 lane highways selling their wares and motorcycles cutting in and out of traffic with little regard for their own safety. The cost was 95 Reais or about $45.
The hotel was as big a madhouse as the World Economic Summit was just ending and the lobby was packed and staff overwhelmed. When we got to the front a well placed $10 Reais note and big smile got us an oceanview room instead of mountain view. We look down on Ipanema Beach and the Atlantic ocean from 16 floors up.
Standing next to us at check in was Fiyad and Jasma from London. We had ridden the bus with them down from Machu Picchu. I saw them again as well at the Iguassu Sheraton and now again here in Rio. Seems Jasma did a decent job planning their two week holiday as she hit the same spots we did. We were going to share a tour with them on Friday but their itin was just to rushed for us. Both the Christ and Sugarloaf in one 4 hour tour. We want to spread things out a bit.
The hotel provided a free shuttle to Rio de Sol a large shopping area right out by Sugarloaf. As we were the only people on the bus, the driver took us to the tram and we got a short cab back to the mall after our trip up top for people watching and ice cream. The big fashion in Rio appears to be high heels for any trip out or these crazy Gladiator looking sandals. Just thought all you fashion conscious Frugalettes needed to know.
The trip up is beautiful and only $21 each round trip with a stop half way up for views, music and refreshments. The weather was clear and warm and we could indeed see all of Rio. I particularly enjoyed the helicopter pad for tours to the Christ Redeemer and the Mexican dignitary and family we met up top. The entourage consisted of him, his younger wife, three kids ages 1, 2 and 3, three bodyguards, the children’s teacher and the nanny. All were impeccably dressed and very warm and friendly. The kids were a handful for family photos and we got a kick out of watching Dad (the big shot), with 3 wriggly kids. The bodyguards made me look like a little person. I did not see anybody packing heat, but I’m sure it was there if need be.
All in all, a great day for us. We are not big city people and rumors about crime on the streets had us very tentative about Rio. We are staying in the tourist spots, not wearing any jewelry (not that we do anyway) and leaving most of our cash and passports in the hotel safe.
And the pizza at the Sheraton is the best we have ever had.
Tomorrow is Christ the Redeemer.