After we left the honeymoon we had one more week left in Rio. It started with bad news — the next morning I went in for my MRI appointment and found out that my plantar fascia was highly inflamed and I shouldn’t be running at all for a month. Fun.
We got back to the condo in Barra beach, and I took a picture of the contents of our out of town bags (we had two bags left, one from the groomsman that got stuck in Idaho, one from a friend who never made it for reasons still unknown). I made sure the contents were very Brazilian, the only non-Brazilian thing in it was the sunscreen (which we bought at Target before leaving). We stuffed the reusable bags with chocolate, candy, peanut candy, a can of beer, some postcards, Brazilian coffee, snacks (“biscoito de polvilho” — that red bag, it’s salty, delicious and melts in your mouth), sunscreen (a necessity for those in Rio), a welcome letter and a little tour booklet with sightseeing spots and tips I created on those slow days at work.
We were still exhausted the next day, but we had a jeep tour booked (through the Brazilian version of Groupon). We started in Leblon, and passed the Botanical Gardens…
And made our way into Tijuca Forest — the largest urban forest in the world (yep, while NYC has Central Park, Rio has a freaking forest right in the middle of the city). As it seems to be the theme where Karl is involved, the day was cloudy, so he didn’t even see the gorgeous view, and again there was a cloud cover blocking the city of Rio…
We were hoping to see wildlife, like sloths or wild cats, but we didn’t even see monkeys (though we had already seen monkeys a couple of times on this trip, you can never see too many of them!). We did get to spot small toucans up in a tree, and that was exciting!
We stopped to take a walk at one of the trails. There are many signed trails on the forest — it’s a national park and protected area, so you’re not allowed to go outside of the trail, specially because, at the end of the day, it’s still a forest. Once in a while someone decides to explore, gets lost and can’t find their way out and by the time the rescue team finds them, it’s too late…
The picture below also clearly shows how much Karl and I ate during our honeymoon. It looks like we’re both three months pregnant… *sigh*
At least it didn’t rain! But the weather was super-gloomy…
The jeep dropped us off at Sao Conrado beach, since neither of us had been there yet, and we could catch a cab from there to Barra.
That night, we stuffed our faces with all-you-can-eat Japanese food. Have I mentioned that it’s made to order (and you can order as many times as you like!) and not a buffet? And that sushi in Brazil is spectacular? The fish is not fishy and it melts in your mouth. I should have taken a picture of the sashimi plate Karl consumed…
The picture below is not flattering at all, but it sums up our vacation pretty well. I love hand rolls and ate my fair share of them at each outing (to the point I was made fun of…).
And this is pretty much an accurate representation of how Karl reacts around raw fish.
The next night, we stayed over my brother’s place, since we were going to explore downtown Rio the next morning (Karl hadn’t been there yet, aside from the wedding day).
We went out for beers…
Then out to eat. Yep, Karl gained weight in Brazil too, why do you ask?
Should I add that the burger he’s eating is called x-tudo, which basically means cheese-everything. Burger, fried egg, ham, bacon, cheese (and probably other things I’m forgetting). If that wasn’t enough, we completed the night with fresh fruit juices (of exotic Brazilian fruits) and bowls of Acai (it’s delicious).
The next day, we went to explore downtown Rio!
Rio was the capital of Brazil until the 50′s when Brasilia was created as a replacement (no, really, there was nothing in the middle of Brazil, and a city was then built to be a capital). Rio was even the capital of the kingdom of Portugal, when the king of Portugal ran away from his country to escape Napoleon (his son stayed behind in Brazil upon the royal family’s return to Portugal a few years later, and eventually declared our independence becoming our first emperor — we are a democratic country now though).
That said, downtown Rio is covered with buildings dating back to imperial times.
And of course, like any old city, we have our share of statues…
Then we went on a mission to find the church we got married at. You have seen all the details and how incredible it was. I didn’t remember one bit of the church from that day! We went through a few old cobblestones streets to get there.
But found it!
We also went on a quest to find Candelaria church, the most famous in Rio. I had driven by many times, but had never been inside of it. It’s gorgeous! (It also is about 5 times bigger than the church we got married in, so this was never an option since we only had about 150 guests.)
We wrapped up the day by eating all-you-can-eat pizza again. This white chocolate pizza we had for dessert was so good I almost forgot to take a picture! (And don’t be fooled by the clean plate — you get a clean plate when you switch from salty to the sweet pizzas.)
Of course, I wasn’t the only one eating…
The next day was our last full day in Brazil. We spent the day at the beach, then met up with my brother, his wife Lara, and my friend (and bridesmaid) Gabi with her brother and his wife.
And yep, we had all-you-can-eat sushi again… Despite vasts amounts of sunscreen, I was super tanned by then, and you can tell the locals don’t get to go to the beach nearly as much as I do, huh?
It was finally our last day in Rio. We woke up super-early, and by 8am we were on our way to the beach. We left around 1pm, showered and made our way to my parents place (they only use the beach condo on weekends), where my brother joined us for lunch. I stopped by my grandmother’s place for a hug, and got to see my old pets — yep, I had turtles growing up and when my parents moved to an apartment they left them at my grandmother’s house. One of them is about 30 years old!
And they might not look too big, but they’re at least a foot long by now.
Back when I was a kid, you could buy turtles at the street fairs, now it’s illegal to sell them, so you don’t see them anymore, but I’ve had them all my life…. They’re not very cuddly, so I’m still working on Karl to let me have a puppy instead…