We left promptly after breakfast to visit another of Rio’s most well-known vista points, the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). Brazil would be playing its World Cup semifinal game in the afternoon, so we had to arrive before 2 PM when the attraction would close down as part of the national holiday declared for every game of the home team. A cab took us quickly to the terminal of the first aerial tram we would be riding upward. We were worried about crowds, but needlessly: it was a gray day with rain threatening, and unlike the previous day at Cristo Redentor, there was no occasion to look for the preferential line for older folk, in fact there was no line at all to buy tickets. Also unlike the previous day at Cristo Redentor, our age gave Nancy and me a 50% discount even though we were not Brazilian citizens.
Pão de Açúcar is located at the end of a peninsula extending from the border between Copacabana and Leme to the south and west, and Botafogo and Flamengo to the north. The trip entails a pair of aerial tram rides, first from street level to an intermediate hill, the Morro da Urta, and then a second ride to the top of the Sugarloaf.
We walked around on the Morro da Urca; despite the gray skies, and despite even the occasional raindrops, we had a fine view of Rio de Janeiro at our feet, as well as Cristo Redentor in the distance to the west whence we had gazed at Sugarloaf the day before.
There was an obligatory World Cup related photo op, whereby visitors were urged to “get benched” with a cutout of Luis Figo, a star of Cups past; I, however, decided to send him off instead.
Here is a view of Copacabana and Ipanema/Leblon beyond
Then we continued on the second aerial tram, looking back at Morro da Urca
and up to the Pão de Açúcar
Rio Scenarium, another major samba hall. To make sure we could get admitted, we made dinner reservations at 8 PM, by which time we could be confident the game wold be over even if it went to penalties, and selected Cachaçaria Mangue Seco, a place right across the street (recommended by Lance, of course) to drink and watch the game.
We grabbed a pair of cabs to go down to Lapa, and had another crappy experience – did the cabbie really now know where he was going? Other cabbies in Rio had asked directions or tried hard to figure out where we needed to go, but this one just dropped the ignorant foreigners off near a large bar where many people had gathered to watch the cup game but which was not even on the right street; it was more than an hour to go until game time but the outside tables were already packed and in any event it was not our destination. It might have been more fun to watch the game there or, at least, we could better have judged the Brazilian reaction to the tragedy that was about to unfold; from there we had to ask directions to Rua do Lavradio, then walked about ten blocks to the other end of the Rua.
We settled into an outdoor table at the Mangue Seco; it was pretty empty, so we had no trouble getting a seat.
|Across the street from Mangue Seco on Rua do Lavradio|
The street had been pretty quiet throughout, and I felt that it was hard to judge how the local folks would react. Brazilians are pretty upbeat, and I was ready to assume that they would be partying despite crushing loss. But I was overwhelmingly outvoted on this one. We had to look for more than ten minutes and walk several blocks before we found taxis to take us back to our hotel. As we passed Bar do Gomes, though, there was the usual buzz and a large crowd standing around outside. I felt vindicated, but others distinguished this scene, saying and artsy and intellectual crowd was less likely to care about football