Photo diary: last day in Rio

November 3, 2012

After Sao Paulo, I’d planned to spend a couple of days in Florianopolis (known as Floripa to Brazilians). But I seriously misunderstood the place — I somehow thought it was a small walkable town, like Provincetown. Instead, it’s a huge island, like Maui or Madeira. I wasn’t prepared to navigate it by car, so after staying one night at the lovely but eerily empty Hotel Maria do Mar (with a quick trip to Praia Galheta), I cut my visit short…

and headed back to Rio de Janeiro, where the clouds had parted and it was sunny beach weather at last!

Since I’d already poked around Ipanema and Leblon plenty, I took my friend Wolfie’s advice and checked out the Santa Teresa neighborhood, which began with a steep climb…

and ended at Parque das Ruinas, a former society mansion with spectacular 360-degree views of Rio from the middle of the city

(Travel life these days is full of people taking pictures of themselves in picturesque settings.)

Santa Teresa is a rather beautiful neighborhood, said to be inhabited by artists and galleries

I was picturing something like Soho or Williamsburg. Instead, it’s more like Montmartre in Paris — a mixture of funky and genteel.

And like Montmartre’s adjacent neighborhood Pigalle, down the hill from Santa Teresa lies Lapa, which is funky mixed with slightly grubby/scary

I was forewarned to be very careful in Rio and Sao Paulo because of the crime rate. In the event, I wasn’t too scared. I witnessed plenty of policemen on the street in both cities, which was rather reassuring. And many private homes in middle-class neighborhoods have private security. Plus, I’m a veteran New Yorker and know how to comport myself with common sense.

Wolfie also recommended a visit to the Carmen Miranda Museum. Who would have guessed it would be hidden inside this plain ugly bunker, deserted in the midst of a bayside playground?

The museum itself is a sad affair, no bigger than a lobby, to which only a pitiful trickle of gringos make tracks. Yes, you can see displays of Carmen Miranda’s outrageous costumes and her shoes (apparently, she was the first to wear wooden platforms)…

watch videos of her admirably vivacious/campy performances and read the remarkably matter-of-fact chronology of her life (I didn’t realize she followed the typical tragic diva drugs/drink/early death trajectory). But you will have a lot more fun taking a virtual tour of the museum online here:

Everywhere I went in Brazil, I made it a point to take local transportation — subways and buses. This sign struck me as a commentary on the demeanor of Brazilian men more than anything else.

Not that I have anything against Brazilian men…

I spent some of my last hours in country enjoying the landscape on Ipanema Beach.









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