Friday, March 28, 2014

Jesus Maximus, Cab Confusion & Conciliation, A Walk Along the Beach

I am writing this--or more specifically reciting this--at around 6:15 pm. 

But this doesn't mean I'm about to turn in for the evening. In fact, I just took another afternoon siesta and have now signed up to a attend a 10 pm Samba Show at a place called Plataforma.

It is supposed to be famous, but many terrible TripAdvisor reviews made me wonder if I should bother, but it's not as if I have anything else to do tonight and going on a tour the picks me up might allow me to interact with other tourists.

I started my day doing just that, as in discovering that the hotel's rooftop pool area is really nice--I actually made use of my swimsuit, for a few wading moments--another guy with the same idea was from Michigan although he now lives near London.

I was planning to go up to the Christ the Redeemer statue--which you could see well from the pool area until I went up again with a camera and it was covered by clouds--and being uncertain of a few options I had read about forgetting there, the guy from Michigan advised me to take a taxi to the Corcovado train station.

But he also told me he and his girlfriend had to wait over five hours for an open train. I tried to see if I could pre-book a train time on my iPhone (back in the room with Wi-Fi) but there was no {ENTER} link that I could find.

it was only about 8:30 when I asked a bellhop to hale me a cab to go to the Corcovado train station. He found me a waiting driver, Orlando, who told me he could drive me to the train station or all the way up to Jesus which would cost less than taking the train.

Orlando only spoke Portuguese and Spanish and didn't understand any English. So while communication was a bit challenging, I believe he openly told me that for him to wait and take me down the mountain would cost quite a bit more, but there wasn't going to be a Taxi queue as I expected.

I let him take me up the mountain, although an official shuttle van and then an elevator required to reach the giant Jesus in the sky. 

Christo the Redeemer lacked any sense of spirituality for me, but from a landmark and photography standpoint--of the statue and of Rio from the statue base--it was pretty cool. And although it might have made for better pictures if there were absolutely no clouds, I actually liked standing there as the clouds rose above me.

Through a guy who understood Portuguese and English slightly better than Orlando, I agreed that I would pay--a good sum--for him to wait for me (for an hour) then drive me through the Tijuca rain forest to see a famous waterfall and take photos from something called the Chinese Overlook. He would the take me to the Jardim Botanico, where I would then be on my own.

I saw a whole lot more of the huge Tijuca National Forest than I ever would have trying to walk any of it, and took a bunch of pictures out the cab window.

But I wound up at the entrance to the Jardim Botanico without having seen the waterfall or Chinese Overlook. Orlando having to stop for directions a couple times may have been a clue he was unsure where these were.

In the scheme of things it probably didn't matter that much, but having seen enough trees in the forest I didn't feel a need to see the Botanic Garden as much as wanting to see the waterfall. Though Orlando couldn't specifically understand the confusion I expressed, he found a nearby interpreter and I learned that we had driven by the Chinese Outlook and hadn't stopped and didn't find the waterfall.

I said, "Well that's what I was paying him to take me to." So without bothering to go into the garden, I excepted Orlando's offer to take me to the waterfall.

It turned out to be not that much of a waterfall, at least not that you could see without hiking about 15 minutes on a rather treacherous path--though a sign labeled it easy.

Orlando actually started to leave me up the path but decided it was too dangerous to be worth the effort. And he was quite helpful in helping me get down safely.

Noting this, and that he had been driving me quite a ways over the course of almost 4 hours, I was able to convey that I wanted to go to the Leblon area (near Ipanema Beach) and would buy him, and of course me, lunch for his efforts. 

We ate what work essentially crepes--mine with strawberries and Nutella--a place called Bibi. 

I paid him our original agreed-upon fare and said I was intending to walk along Ipanema Beach and then Copacabana Beach to reach my hotel.

He expressed that this was rather far, and turned out to be right--at least for a fat ass like me on an 80 something degree day.

The stroll along Ipanema was terrific; I didn't really get close enough to see beach bodies but loved watching guys playing volleyball using only their feet and heads. A rather fun merging of  "football" and volleyball.

But rather then walk to and along Copacabana which would've involved another couple miles to see similar sites as on Ipanema and which I saw yesterday, I opted at that point for a cab back to the hotel.

Took a good nap, alerted the front desk I was in for the Samba show we had discussed--i'll get picked up at 9:00--and wrote this.

From the Trip Advisor reviews, I suspect the Plataforma show may not be all that spectacular, but what the heck?

I'm now off to try Bob's Burgers nearby; it seems to be a chain--perhaps Americanized--but it'll be new to me.

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