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Features > Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (January 2008) > Pre-Carnival in Rio de Janeiro


While I was in Brazil for work I convinced (after some prodding) my co-worker that we should head over to Rio since it was right next door to Sao Paulo. Driving would have been several hours and a bit dangerous, flying was only 45 minutes but about $300 per ticket. Rio has a murder rate between Baltimore and Detroit which isn't low by any standards, but not a war zone. However, I tried to be mindful of my posessions and surroundings at all times and we had a local guide.


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Originally I had planned to buy tickets for us on TAM airlines, but since a CPF (Brazil Social Security #) is required to book online, after some research I found that you didn't need a number when booking on the Argentine website of another Brazillian Airline, GOL so we flew GOL. This is leaving Sao Paulo I believe.


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Lush green hills


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Mist-shrouded peaks near Rio


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Approaching Rio


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It was overcast on our approach but Sugarloaf Mountain and beaches were still quite beautiful


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Christ the Redeemer statue in the distance


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We met our guide at the airport and thank heavans I still remember much of my vocabulary from high school Spanish as he didn't speak any English. Also luckily people in the south of Brazil often speak Spanish in addition to Portugese (of which I know none besides Obrigado (thank you) and Bom Dia (good day)).
The first place we went was the Sambadrome, the actual viewing stands for Carnival which were being prepared for the big event in 10 or so days - there were general stands on the right...


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...and also boxes (decorated to different Brazil/Rio themes) on the right stacked vertically. Each club has 80 minutes to cross the entire length of 700 meters and the tone and rythm of the music changes fluidly (but in a well planned manner) across that time.
In 2006 ticket prices were $60 to $220 USD and at that pricing many Brazillians are unable to attend so Blocos (block parties) are also held around the cities suburbs. In addition to the trained samba club members, others can buy a costume and dance in the parade (as one of the project members in Sao Paulo was going to for the Carnival there).


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Although this group wasn't practicing samba, they were practicing in the Sambadrome so I thought I'd get some photo of people dancing there since we were going to leave long before Carnival


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Painted decorations in the boxes (which appear to be rebuilt each year)


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Next we went to the Ciudade de Samba where all the Samba clubs construct their floats, no photography was allowed of the floats in construction within the warehouses (which you could only see small amounts of above) but previous floats and costumes were on display.


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Don't you feel like you're really there? Well...too bad - that's as close as it gets!


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Obviously she hasn't lived in Brazil very long...such pale skin!


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I think they are working on restoring a previous float - a very industrial theme with dummies and car frames


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Next it was clearing up pretty well so we thought a jaunt up to the Christ statue, most famous landmark of Rio, was a good idea. It's good to know even in Brazil they make people dress up in silly costumes outside restaurants and stores to attract business.


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Climbers on a sheer cliff face (in the middle of the city) - those supports look like timber above...kind of frightening


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So when we were about 3km away I think we couldn't go any further since it was a private car we were riding in, not a taxi or tourist bus. So, we could have either taken the train, a taxi, or walked. In the spirit of the cold weather back in Milwaukee I thought it would be best to get some exercise and exposure to the outside air and walk... It was a very steep and long walk, but fun.


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Christ was too busy greeting the other tourists to turn our way as we labored up the mountain


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A view of the 14th largest stadium in the world, Estádio do Maracană with a capacity of 95,000. The NY Giants stadium, the Meadowlands, only holds about 80,000. Of course the largest stadium in the world is Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea (although at 195,000 seats it has only reached close to that with 190,000 once).


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Bamboo!


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The railroad tracks for those lazy tourists!


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Finally, the view from the top


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A church waaaay down below (color-toned)


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Finally, we see the face of the Christ the Redeemer Statue!


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Of course, one normal cheesy photo isn't enough in such a famous place, people have to strike a pose like the Christ with arms outstretched to remember their visit forever


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There are helicopter tours around the statue every couple minutes


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Sugarloaf mountain and beaches below


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Babu and Christ


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Jay and Jesus


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Our driver and the Son of Man


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Look - the history of GE in Brazil is long and storied! A plaque from 1965 to commemorate the new lighting from GE of the statue


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We couldn't walk another step...good thing there were escalators going back down to the lower level (not the entire mountain, just the taxi circle/tourist shop area


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These elite Brazillian soldiers are stationed at the Christ statue to...protect it...yes. We took a taxi down to our car (and our guide negotiated a 20 BRL rate instead of 30 BRL!)


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