Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dia 17 - Ola Gata!

I forget what part of Rio this is

Not like the pose in "Dogma"
Sightseeing time! Today we knock off all of Rio’s main tourist attractions. First up – Corcovado, the mountain where the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue overlooks the Marvelous City.  Pete and I jump on the bus around 9am (I’m guessing. Again – we have no concept of time), which takes us to Cosme Velho, where a cable car climbs toward the statue.  On the way up, a Samba band plays and dances in the car. One dude gives me what looks like an aluminum pepper shaker, to which I of course - play the shit out of! Unfortunately, this instrument is only fun for a few seconds, and then I’m just stuck holding the thing Debbie Downer-style for the rest of the ascent to the top. 

Freestyle is my homeboy

The view from Corcovado is incredible. It’s also the most touristy spot in the entire city, probably country. The statue is magnificent. With the base, it’s 38 meters tall (roughly 125 feet), 30 meters (98 ft) by itself. Work began on it in 1926, and was completed Oct. 12, 1931. The statue, heretofore known as Cristo, seems to watch over the entire city. There doesn’t seem to be a single part of Rio that can’t be seen from Cristo’s eyes. Rio is a very religious, particularly Catholic, city. But I find it interesting how the city’s views on sex could seemingly not be any further from that of the church. From wearing practically nothing on the beach to the abundance of prostitutes and sex clubs, the city’s attitude towards sex could not be more cavalier. Yet the city is devoutly Catholic. Call C+C Music Factory, because we got things that make you go hmmmm. (An aside: that “Gonna Make You Sweat” album was the business! “Just a Touch of Love”, “Everybody Dance Now”, and “TTMYGH” – that was the early 90’s! Without C+C, slumlord Joe Pesci would never have had a transcendent bonding moment with his tenants in the Oscar-worthy flick “The Super”. Good lord, could you imagine our world if that never happened? Unfathomable.)

All that walking and this is the best pic!

After Cristo, we took the bus and subway to Maracana Stadium, an enormous soccer stadium that seats around 83,000.  The stadium is closed due to renovation for the 2012 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. We decide to walk around the entire stadium, which feels like the same distance as the Boston Marathon. Unlike athletic venues in the Estados Unidos, there weren’t any food options nearby. Actually, there was one exception, but as we walked by I glanced into the kitchen and saw the cast of Ratatouille, so we passed and continued to trek around Maracana in the grueling heat.
Getting the hang of the subways
When we get back into town, we get some grub at Kilograma, a churrascaria where you pay by the kilograma. Delicious again. The food helps us recharge for our bus ride to Urca/Sugarloaf Mountain. Pete and I are starting to understand the buses and subways a little better, and I’m definitely becoming a fan of the public transportation.
It takes two cable trams to bring you to the top of Sugarloaf, which provides a beautiful alternative view of Rio than Corcovado. I’m told the sunset is worth watching from Sugarloaf, so Pete and I relax for a little while (me with a Brahma – my second lackluster Brazilian beer) and run into some foreign exchange students, and a retired couple that lives near my hometown in Orange County. Ironically, the couple tries to set us up with their daughters – who are apparently successful doctors and lawyers. I ask if they have pictures.

Wondering how thrilling it'd be to ride on top of the cable car

True to form, the sunset is gorgeous and I can’t help but think that Rio has won the geography lotto. Incredible beaches book-ended by shapely mountains with a rainforest and lake as backdrops. The retired couple says the place is wonderful like California. Listen, I rep the west like Ice Cube, but come on, brosef! You’re going to compare Long Beach to Rio de Janeiro?! The guy is actually a former physics professor at Cal State Fullerton. With those types of comments – I can only wonder what kind of misinformation those Titans science geeks are getting. Certainly not the education the Nobel Prize-winning Physics faculty at UCSB is delivering. Can I get an amen?!

Ever wonder why Fiats are so popular in other countries?

Back in Copacabana, we eat some delicious empanadas at O Rei Das Empanadas, a Lonely Planet suggestion – one of the few good ones mind you. A quick shower, and bidet splash(!), and it’s off to Ipanema. We figured we’d start off at Garota de Ipanema, where the song “A Girl from Ipanema” was written, but the place looks ho-hum, so we walk to some pizzeria pub. The pub is right next to a club that’s lined up with beautiful people.  I wonder if the Brazilian dudes are totally desensitized to beautiful women. Do they think they’re like Fiats or something? Just everywhere and not noteworthy to anyone but Americans?
At the pub, which name I don’t know, I have the local special – caipirinha, a sugar cane drink that tastes like a cross between margarita and mojitio. This drink floors me. Totally feeling it, I’m thinking it’s time to bust out my lines “ola gata”(hello pretty lady) and “gosto de voce” (I like you). But the line at the club is dwindling, and we discover it’s a $70R cover. Not wanting to drop that kind of dough, we decide to roll elsewhere. We ask the cabbie where’s a nice place to meet ladies. The dude says Barbarella. Coincidentally, the same place Jorge, the cab driver-potential kidnapper from the previous day suggested. Sweetness.
Barbarellas is the spot on the left with lights... and whores
We arrive at Barbarella, which is conveniently near our hotel, and I’m pretty buzzed still. Yet I'm coherent enough to notice this doesn’t look like the bars and pubs we’ve been frequenting. Once we walk in, it’s a strip club. Really? We ask people where to meet ladies – and they take us to a strip club? Come on Brazil! You can do better than that. What’s even more shady, there wasn’t even that much stripping going on at this club. Instead, the women  (who mind you – are still beautiful – which begs the question – why are they in this place?) proposition guys. Two women approach us and the first thing one of them says to Pete is “Sexo?” Errrr… no thank you. Buzz kill. Night over. Disappointing end. 
Although… I still got to drop my Portuguese lines.


  1. Caipirinhas are the bomb--or as they say in Brazil, La Bamba! Good call!

  2. Please note - no amens from the SB crowd.