Arrived safely at 8.a.m. Had to make a decision about what sights to see. Looking at the weather I saw it was cloudy...so I ruled out a visit to Christ the Redeemer.
I knew, with the crowds it could take all day, and the weather comes with no guarantees. So, from the airport I caught a bus straight to Niteroi, a town across the bay from Rio.
I was delighted to find, no hustle and bustle, there was a simple layout to the place, and it was designed by Oscar Niemeyer! So I took a tour, it actually felt like I was on holiday! At every turn on the coast, you could see a small pristine beach reminding of those I had seen near Cape Town.
The houses with a view, back over to Rio, made me think of those on the Amalfi coast in Positano, and Oscar's work in the MOMA in New York (of course now every time I see that I will think of Oscar.) Plus the beaches have goalposts set up on them.
To get back to Rio I decided to catch the ferry (It cost £2, o. k. a bit more than the 50 cents for the Staten Island ferry) but just as good as the clouds lifted and I saw Cristo Redontor for the first time.
I walked from the port to Central metro station and was amazed that it felt so calm. After all this time travelling you may have thought I would feel tired, well I haven't. I can only guess it is my Lust for Life (Iggy Pop) that keeps me going.
Found Juliana The Girl from Urca at my hostel. She gave me a few ideas of what I could do with my limited time. So the evening I headed for the beach, Praia Vermelha, in the shadows of Sugarloaf mountain. The restaurant there had music, good food and outside once again the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. (An excellent recommendation).
The next morning (the third time I have slept in a bed) I didn't feel so good. I don't know what I had eaten that had caused this. So I took my time as I got up, instead of rushing straight out. My schedule means that I am on the road non stop for the next two days. (Nothing unusual, except not feeling so good). Might need to visit McDonalds. For those of you that don't understand wherever you are in the world McDonalds have clean toilets, so any problems that is where to go!
Set off an hour late to go up Sugar Mountain (think Where Eagles Dare). Cristo Redentor was still in the clouds but the view was clear from where I overlooked the sprawling city below. Still not 100% so decided to take my time enjoying the view. Whilst up there spotted some creatures (which I later found out were micos) playing in the trees at the top of Sugarloaf.
It was like an extreme version of sumo wrestling where they try and push each other out the tree and then have to desperately cling on to a branch to prevent a messy end.
Leaving Sugarloaf I saw the bus coming, but let it go as I didn't feel like running for it... as I normally would.
Pedro from Fortaleza has been in touch. The thieves struck again the next day. I have sent him an email asking if the police are doing anything or if he thinks they are involved. I await his reply with interest.
My next game is the first I do not (now) have a ticket for. So I have been paying attention to the black market. You know me by now, working all the angles... as well as the curves. Today Brazilians are trying to sell their tickets (the lowest category) for 10 times face value. I may have to accept that I won't see the game in the stadium.
Walking up the tunnel to see the inside of the Maracana, it felt as though I would be walking out on to the pitch to play. Of course now that I have realised this dream my thoughts turn to Manuel's offer to come and see his team America in the Azteca. (Give me three years to sort that one out!)
Here in Rio (with a bit of help from Juliana) I think I have found my Brazilian home. The city is calm, well policed, there are some wonderful areas, much preferred Ipanema to the touristy Copacabana and the weather has not been too hot.
Off shortly to get the 1.30a.m bus to São Paulo.
© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com