Wonderful BrazilAuthor: Audrey H.
Date of Trip: July 2006
I have returned safe and sound (and tired!) from Brazil. The trip was exhilarating, exciting and exhausting. We stayed in 7 cities in 18 days and visited 4 more cities en route. That meant a lot of hotel changes and much time on the coach (bus), trains, planes, canoes, boats and footwork! The weather was hot, hot, hot (75 – 85o) and humid, but it only rained at night.
There were 10 of us and a Tour Director (for the whole trip) and a local Guide at each city. Our little group of 12 was all great people and great fun. Five (Evelyn -VA, Dick -VA, Frank -N CA, & Gail -Chicago) knew one another (including my girlfriend Jolene) and then me; add the Smith family (Mom Dorace, Dad Lynn, and 23-yr daughter Lindsay) from Ft Wayne Indiana, and 1 fun crazy lady from Tampa (Margery). Our Brazil tour director was Eduardo Allende (55 yr old single parent, 20 years touring); an extremely knowledgeable and interesting guide, and entertaining - he knew how to have fun and enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him. Mike Kartwright was our director for the Amazon rain forest extension trip - another great guy, quite worldly and educated.
Arrived Sao Paulo Airport en route to Iguassu. The airport closed due to fog, so our connecting flight was canceled. Evelyn (who was fluent in Spanish) managed to communicate (barely) with the Portuguese airline people, and happily got us on another flight to our destination.
Two nights in Iguassu (Hotel Continental Inn). Iguassu Falls is similar to our Niagara Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, but wider with more variety (275 falls) and more beautiful green foliage (and wild animals and toucans – picture ops galore!). Here’s a comparison of world-famous Falls: Niagara Falls, USA 1 mile wide, 167 feet high Iguassu Falls 1½ -2 miles wide 230 feet high 275 falls (The "Devil's Throat" is 70% of water at Iguassu Falls.) Victoria Falls, Africa 1 mile wide 400 feet tall Angel Falls, Venezuela 3,212 feet tall Iguassu Falls was formed over 200,000 years ago as a crack in the earth’s surface created a stairs. Iguassu River flowed over the crack and the rocky terrain splintered and gouged, slowly giving shape to 275 falls.
We bused to the Argentina side of the Falls; funky train ride (30 minutes) to a way-post, butterflies galore, walked the raised catwalk above the jungle floor (about 45 minutes) to the edge of the Falls, (posted signs warned NOT to leave the path – snakes!), many photo ops.
Did you know? Argentina has 486 different birds. There are 6 kinds of Toucans in the world and 5 species are in S. America!
We bused to the Brazilian side; paved path along the ridge to view the Falls from different perspectives – more photo ops; feed the Coati’s (small animals with striped tails; South America’s equivalent of our raccoon), lunch by the pool at a lovely old hotel, Tropical Cataratas Hotel, and shopping, shopping, shopping (great jewelry and gems!).
FLY to Rio for 3 nights, (Hotel Luxor Continental) one block off Copacabana Beach. We have dinner at an open-air restaurant along the beach.
City tour, and up to the top of Corcovado mountain where "Christ the Redeemer" (155 ft tall including the base, Christ 122 ft tall, 114 feet fingertip width, 1.2 tons of cement covered in small soapstone triangles) watches over Rio Harbor. It is a 30-minute train ride to the top and then stairs or use the escalator to reach the statue. Spent the afternoon at the center city vendor flea market (lunch and shopping), then a casual (!) one-hour stroll back through the city and along the Le Blon, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches to our hotel.
Visit the Samba University (some ladies including Jolene suited up in the samba costumes – feathers and plumes and flowing material - much like our Mummers). Then we visit the St. Sebastian Cathedral (an open-dome church with four, floor to ceiling, beautiful stained glass windows). We finish with a ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain via a cable car (what a view and what a ride - whew!)
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