Thursday, June 17, 2010

We woke up late, probably due to the food and walking from the day before. We ate a late breakfast, around 9:30. We went to some nearby shops, then decided to go up to Corcovado, in spite of haze. We should have gone the day before, when it didn't seem as hazy, but then again, we didn't know it was going to be hazier today. We caught a cab, but the taxi driver told us he couldn't take us to the top, only to the train station. Ordinarily, this would be fine, but we knew the train wasn't running due to the train tracks being washed out in the major flooding in April.

Where the train would ordinarily leave from, we caught a bus that took us up 3/4 of the way. Near the top we got off one bus and got on another to take us the rest of the way. We weren't quite sure why it worked this way, but we were at the top, which is what mattered. At the top, haze was bad to the north and the east, but we could see the Lagoon and Ipanema pretty well. Also, the Christ statue itself was clear, which is much more than we had the last time. Also, the statue had just been cleaned, and the scaffolding had just been removed, so it was bright white. We walked around for awhile to get some pictures and video, then went back down.

On way down, we ended up at the top again. We apparently took the wrong bus at the bus crossover, and went up instead of down. At bottom, we caught a cab back to our hotel. It was almost 2pm, and we were hungry. We got some more cash from the ATM, then took the "free" shuttle to H Stern so that we wouldn't need to walk to Ipanema. We did this two years ago, as we were told that we didn't need to actually go in to the store, and it was an easy way to get to Ipanema.


Well, that loophole is now closed, as we painfully found out. In the store, we had to go through a long tour of how they make gem stones, and it was on an audio tape, so you couldn't just skip ahead at your leisure. In fairness, it was quite interesting, but we had no intent on purchasing anything, and really just wanted to eat. After we finished the tour, we were all set to leave, but then we were greated by Pierre, who took us back to his desk and tried to sell us some jewelry. By this time, it was almost 3:30, and we still hadn't had lunch. Since his name was Pierre, Justin made an informed guess and told him that we were in a hurry to leave since the France match versus Mexico started at 3:30. Pierre looked at his watch, and told us he planned to see it too, and he let us go without trying the "hard sell." Long story short, there is no such thing as a "free" shuttle, but we got out of it pretty easily, all things considered.

We walked over to Gula Gula, and we ate upstairs and caught the game. The restaurant looked to be a converted house or apartment, and each bedroom was a separate dining area. We were in the one room with a TV, but it also came with a table of 12 rowdy people right next to us. Watching the game, it was hard for Justin to hate the French team when they have 3 current Arsenal guys and 2 former Arsenal guys, but both of us still rooted for Mexico. It was good we did that, because Mexico routed France. The Brazilians watching seemed to enjoy it, probably because France knocked Brazil out of the last World Cup. We finished up "lunch" around 5:15 - the food was excellent. We both got steaks, and the side dishes were also very good, and then there was good dessert after that.

We left completely stuffed, and went to the beach to check out the sunset, but it was already down. We were near (or at least thought we were near) the official Haviana store, so we walked back to where we thought it was, and fortunately we had remembered correctly from the day before. Crystal got some more sandals, the three pairs from the day before were not enough. We went to a couple of bars, then took a cab back to the room - no long walks today. At the room, caught up on the diary, got some rest, and digested "lunch." We never did get dinner, but we did go up to the rooftop bar before closing time, closed the place down, and then went to sleep.