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Day 5 in Rio {{Downtown Walking Tour}}

{{4.12.17}} - A quickie half day walking tour through downtown Rio

Yesterday's hefty walk through half of Rio left me a little on the tired side so I let myself sleep in a bit today before getting up and ready for the morning...a little street side tapioca crepe and fresh juice helped me out a bit too!  I also knew I had to be back to Caitlin's apartment by early afternoon so I figured a quick trip to downtown Rio would be the perfect fit. Remember from previous posts, I LOVE w.a.l.k.i.n.g everywhere while I travel, so naturally walking tours are a favorite of mine!

I found a couple different free walking tours of Rio online and combined the best of each and came up with my own itinerary and it was perfect!

Highlights of the day included: 

-- The Abby of Our Lady of Montserrat (ok but really...it was gated off and I only saw it from the street lol --
-- Candelaria Church in downtown {this was huge and beautiful inside && out! --
-- Bank of Brazil Cultural Center {BBCC - this was a pretty building to check out & it came with air conditioning inside ;)  } --
-- Checking out the Olympic torch --
-- The museum of Tomorrow {honestly I didn't have much interest on the items inside the museum, but if you ever find yourself in Rio you have to at least walk by it...holy architecture! } --
-- Mercado Popular {this was very reminiscent of Taiwanese crowded day markets selling everything and ANYTHING you can think of!} --
-- Wandering up and down side alleys checking out all the fun houses --
-- Eating street food...lots and LOTS of street food! --

I met Caitlin and her roommates back at their place later in the day when they got off of work early and we finished packing up and headed to the bus station for a nice long weekend away {I mean everyone needs a vacation from their vacation RIGHT!} Unfortunately for us what was typically a 1.5 to 2 hour trip turned into an over 3.5 hour bus ride dropping us off to our hotel late at night with just enough time to find our hostel and crash hard...goodnight Brazil...until tomorrow!

Rio Day 4 - Botanical Gardens & Impinima Beach

Day 4 {Tuesday 4.11.17} was my first official SOLO day in Rio...let the exploring begin!

I began my day out by grabbing some breakfast {{a Brazilian tapioca crepe filled with local cheeses} checking out a nearby church, and then heading to the lagoa with a walking trail wrapping around the lagoon with beautiful views of the water, the local neighborhood, and Corcovado Mountain (where the Christ Statue stands).

To me one of the biggest benefits of traveling solo, even if only for 1 day, is that you get to call the shots and decide what's worth seeing, doing, and {most importantly} eating! For me that typically means lots of walking, lots of street food, and lots of fun!

And that's just what I did! Walking over 2 miles I find myself hot, sweaty, and ready to explore the Rio Botanical Gardens. This wouldn't typically have been a high priority spot for me, but I had heard amazing things about this botanical garden in particular and figured "when in Rome!" ...and they didn't disappoint!

After a stroll through the expansive gardens I left the area and stopped nearby at a local stand to buy a frozen acai bowl {a popular and healthy Brazilian desert}. This was not my first time talking to a local here, but it always made me giddy inside knowing that if we spoke slow and simple enough I could use my Spanish to communicate with the local Portuguese speakers and have some idea of what was going on...languages are such an amazing thing!

Onwards && upwards I was headed to the beach...but of course...first a pit stop! I had marked a popular horse Jockey Stadium on my possible todo list for the day and when I realized I would be more-or-less walking right by it on my way to the beach I figured I had to stop ;)  Finally, tired, hot, and ready to cool off I made it to the ever famous Impinima Beach where I enjoyed dipping my feet in the sand and a cool drink before heading back to Caitlin's {at a several mile walk back though...I opted for the subway at this point...12 miles of walking was enough for one day!}

Caitlin had a spot she was dying to take me for dinner and I happily obliged. We stat and ate kabobs on the beach, watching the sun set over the water, while drinking our caipirinhas and all was well in the world...thanks Brazil for a spectacular day!

2017 in Review

HOLY MOLY ... that's about all I can say! I'm a tad behind on my little corner of the internet here, I guess you could say I've been staying busy.. But have no fear, even though I haven't been good about writing about my travels...I certainty have been traveling!

I figured January and all...what better way to get back to my little blog-o-sphere than to give you a quick year in review! If you've been reading with me for a while, this will probably look a little familiar... {{hey-o 2015 and 2016 years in review}} (you can click the lovely tan-ish colored words to take you to those previous blog posts if you happened to miss them!

Ok, the SUPER fast recap of 2017! I'm still living in Ashland. Finished teaching 2nd grade and am now back safe and sound in 1st grade at my same school. We had a family wedding in Mexico, spring break in Brazil, summer trip to Taiwan, back to school trip to Niagara & Toronto and still managed to get my little side business {{Nifty Thrifty by Tracy}} to various craft shows in the area! Hello busy year!

And without further ado...

Day 3 in Rio de Janeiro

Day 3 {Monday} proved to be one of my favorite days in Rio and great memories to boot!

Of course you can’t visit Rio and not take a trip to see the iconic Christ statue. He is visible from almost all areas of Rio, but I still knew that I needed to see him up close & personal (I mean, when in Rome!) There’s a quick, easy, and relatively cheap cable train that you can take to the top of the mountain and find yourself at the statue within 10 to 15 minutes. We on the other hand, chose to hike! Matt, Erin, & I started at the base of the mountain Corcovado in Parque Lage, which truly warrants a visit itself and then began our hike. The hike has a path to follow, but it not the most common way to get to the top. It took us around 2.5 hours to reach the top and we only passed a handful of other hikers, but the city views, jungle scenes, and hike were all so worth it! Did we hike back down…heck no we were exhausted, would I do it again…in a heartbeat!

As we were hiking we had quickly noticed that it was crazy cloudy around the top of the mountain and we kept hoping and praying that the cloud coverage would clear. As we neared the summit we realized we couldn’t be farther from the truth…poor Jesus was almost completely covered in clouds….2 hours of climbing and it looked like he had already ascended into the clouds! We headed back down to a lower platform to grab some lunch when all of a sudden we saw the clouds part….we S.P.R.I.N.T.E.D up the 3 flights of stair….clouds…again. Back down to finish lunch and order a beer; ooh, clouds move again…sprint back up the stairs…clouds…lordy! Back down AGAIN to finish our beers and then we head up for one last peek…hallelujah the clouds parted…not for long, but they did! We got our pictures, visited the chapel, and then made a general consensus that we were taking the train down!

We wound down the evening with dinner, walking around Caitlin’s neighborhood, and crashing early for a well-deserved sleep!

Day 2 in Rio de Janeiro

Day 2 started off with Caitlin and another of her friends {Erin} heading off to breakfast where I had a chicken sandwich and tried my hand at a new juice made from acerola (also known as barbados cherries); it was good, probably not worthy of a repeat, but good nonetheless!

The graffiti in Rio was beautiful!

Post breakfast we multiplied the troops and grabbed a couple of the student teachers and headed out to Lapas for a walk around the area. One of the main attractions of this area of downtown Rio is the famed Escadaria Selaron steps that were built between the years 1990 & 2013 by Jorge Selaron by using tiles from 60+ countries and places in the world. The colors and artwork shown were mesmerizing and so worth the trip if you find yourself in Rio! Walking a couple blocks further from the steps we found the ­­­Rio de Janeiro cathedral which was on my personal “to check out list”! Though the outside of the church was far from impressive {think modern bomb shelter look} the inside was quite unique and the choir practicing was a nice touch as well.

Leaving the cathedral we had every intention of grabbing dinner; but as anyone who has ever traveled knows…things don’t always go as planned! Rio isn’t exactly rated as the safest city on the planet {{ok let’s be honest, it’s got one of the highest crime rates}} and as we were heading to lunch we found ourselves in a *slight altercation* Said altercation meant no lunch for us and we all promptly headed back to Caitlin’s house….for several hours. Life’s got to keep us on our toes!  Maybe…someday…eventually…I’ll make a blog post about it lol…for the meantime, just know we are all alright and just had our guards up a tad bit higher for the rest of our stays!

When our heart rates had finally subsided we ventured out for dinner {{and hello my first official Brazilian açaí berry drink!}} and then wrapped up the evening hanging out and playing cards. Goodnight Rio!