Category: Brazil, 2014

Viewing Rio from on high

April 29

Breakfast on the veranda of our room. Ah, yes, it’s a tough life, but I know that somebody must live like this, and I’m prepared to do my part.

A footnote (pun intended) to yesterday’s blog. Walking along the beach with Rosa and Paul last night, we noticed some boys playing a game at a volleyball net. We assumed they were playing volleyball, but when we looked more closely, we noticed that they were getting the ball over the net using soccer rules, i.e. never touching the ball with their hands. It’s called foot volley, and is quite amazing to watch.

Picked up at 9 by our guide, Luiz, who had met us at the airport yesterday. A full day of traditional Rio sightseeing. At Corcovado and Sugar Loaf. After a scenic ride along the Rodrigo de Feitas Lagoon, we arrive at the Cosme Velho district, where we board a cog-train, which takes us right through the Tijuca Forest, to the top of Concovado (hunchback) mountain. On our way up, we enjoy beautiful views of the Guanabara Bay,the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, the beach of Ipanema and Leblon and the Rio-Niteroi Bridge. Arriving at the base of the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, we have a stunning 360 degree view over the city. The statue was paid for, constructed and owned by the Catholic Church. Though it was intended to be completed for the centennial of independence in 1922, delays in raising funds and construction postponed its completion until 1931 (query whether the work planned for the World Cup and Olympics will meet a similar fate). The statue is almost 100 feet high, about the height of the Statue of Liberty, minus the torch, and the arm span of the statue is some ninety feet.

Carol, of course, had to feed a monkey a pistachio nut she had in her purse. Riding back down on the tram, we are entertained by some young Brazilian musicians, who are playing for tips and succeed in getting several of the women on the car to dance with them. Fun.



The afternoon involved taking two cable cars up to the top of Sugar Loaf, a mountain that looks back on the city of Rio and Concovado, rather than looking out from the city towards the bay, as we did this morning. Now, I know this sounds like a pretty boring day, and the photos below won’t do it justice, but it’s impossible to overstate how breathtaking the city of Rio is. Looking at it for a day was well worth the time.




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I lied a little bit, though, because we did do several other things, the most interesting of which was stopping at a museum of naïve art that has a collection of some 6000 items from all around the world, the collection of a Jewish jeweler. Wonderful to look at, and many of the pieces were extremely good. We also stopped for lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse in Ipanema, whose ample salad bar of seafood items more than satisfied Carol. And we ran three errands, two of which were successful (buying tickets for a modern dance concert at the opera house tomorrow night and getting cash at an ATM). The third, trying to find an orthopedic seat for Carol at two different places, was not.

Returned back to the hotel to rest. You’ve probably figured out by now that, for me, “rest” is a synonym for “blog”.

Took a taxi to D” Amici, a very good Italian restaurant in Copacabana, where we met Andrew Janszky, who heads up the Brazilian operation for a large New York firm, Milbank. I had gotten to know Andrew almost thirty years ago, when he was the hiring partner of Shearman & Sterling, a consulting client of mine. Andrew is based in San Paolo, but was able to arrange business in Rio, so that we could have dinner together. So, if anyone needs proof of the smallness of the world, in less than a week, Carol and I have had dinner with a Brazilian oncologist and his radiologist wife, a Brazilian cardiologist and her economist husband and a Brazilian/American lawyer.

Dinner with Andrew was terrific, once we finally found the place. The taxi driver could not find it and dropped us at a spot that was not our restaurant. After getting help from a couple people we found, who, luckily, spoke English we located the restaurant.

Andre (his real name, which he goes by in Brazil) is a lot of fun, lively, and we picked up pretty-much where we left off some twenty-five years ago. He has a unique perspective, having been born in Brazil of Hungarian parents, moved to and lived in NY, and now living half time in NY and half in Brazil. Andrew loves the Brazilian people but finds it frustrating to live with constant concerns about safety. I think it’s fair to say that he’s down on many aspects of Brazilian life, when compared to life in the U.S. After a delightful, long dinner with much conversation, Andrew sent us back to our hotel with the driver he uses in Rio.

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