Tuesday, January 21, 2014

S America/Antarctica - 12/18/2013 - Morning in Rio and Getting on the Ship

After a good nights rest, we awoke to beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and even bluer water in Rio.  Our bus transfer to the ship wasn't until 11:00 am so we took advantage of the great day to explore the beach area which was right across the street from our hotel.

We had great 3G coverage in Rio.  T-Mobile offers free data and texting from all the countries that we will visit on the cruise.  Voice is only $0.20/minute so you don't have to worry about huge phone bills when you get home.  You do want to avoid the ships service....really expensive.  I enjoyed people watching.  The story about all the Brazilians being fit and fantastic looking, especially on the beach, is not true....more like 50% based on my unofficial observations.

The beaches were not crowded and were very clean.

They play a lot of volleyball on the beaches.

This Brazilian is obviously pretty fit....the one standing that is.

Our hotel, the Royal Tulip, was very nice.  It is the hotel provided by Holland America when you take the pre-cruise extension.

Breath taking scenery around Rio.

Post card photos of our ship, the ms Zaandam.  On this cruise, we had 1,407 guests and a crew of 615.  The ship is 785 ft in length and 108 ft wide.  It weights 63,000 tons and can cruise at 21.5 knots (about 25 mph).  It burns about 85 gallons/mile of fuel oil while producing 59,000 hp or 43.2 MW to propel the ship....more information than you wanted I suspect.

Part of the check-in gauntlet is the "Welcome Aboard" photo.  We rarely buy these but made an exception this time.  They run you through so fast that you don't have time to ditch your luggage for the photo.

This is part one of our posts for today.  Later in the evening, we will go out on the town.

I promised a little more information on Rio in the first post.  I can only comment on what I see as we drive around town.

Rio is a city of contradictions.  You see wealth and abject poverty, dirty and clean, old and new, beauty and ugliness.  Where you are in the city determines what you see.  From the airport to one of the major tunnels going under the mountains, you see old poorly maintained industry and homes.  Everything is jammed tightly together.  A large percentage of the 6.5 million people living in Rio are very poor and live in shanty houses in the northern part of the city.

As you pass through the tunnel to the southern part of the city, you are on "the other side of the tracks" and are in the wealthiest and most expensive part of the city and of all South America.  This is the Rio that most people see.  The entire southern part of Rio has beautiful beaches and resort hotels.  Names like Flamengo, Ipanema, and Tropicana come from the beaches and neighborhoods of Rio.

We really enjoyed seeing Rio but would not want to go back.  It is way too crowded and chaotic.  The things that people go to Rio to do and see are not things we enjoy the most.  There are plenty of other places to go in the world to see a great beach.  Being a skin cancer survivor, the last thing I need is to lay on a beach.

Rio will host the 2014 World Cup Football games this summer.  It will also be the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  The construction of the new facilities for the Games is way behind schedule at the time of this writing.  Lets keep our fingers crossed that they can recover and be ready when the torch arrives.

Older folks will remember the "Girl From Ipanema" song that was so famous in 1964.  It is one of my favorite songs even now.  The song was written about a real girl who would walk by Stan Getz's (author) hotel everyday to get to the beach.  He fell in love with her but never got to meet her until the song became a hit.  She is still living in Rio and reportedly still beautiful at age 70 something.  Here is a link to the song...enjoy.

The next post will cover our night on the town in Rio.

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