A bit of a logistic problem here. We’d be leaving from Heathrow Airport, and returning to Gatwick. So, it wouldn’t be very practicable to take the car to the airport; instead, we took the National Express coach to Heathrow, then the Hotel Hopper to the Travelodge, where we’d stay the night, before getting on our flight to Rio next morning. As I’ve said countless times before, Travelodge is really just a clean, secure place to lay your head… and in this case, to eat … satisfactory, but nothing to write home about. But then, I have previous experience of Travelodge, so I was expecting good things, but not necessarily great things.
Since we took the option of a direct flight to Rio, we arrived a day early and thus had the day to ourselves before the itinerary proper started.
Our hotel was only three blocks away from the famous Copacabana Beach, of course we had to check it out. Just took a stroll along the long promenade … which is a bit harder than it sounds, because of the heat. But there’s no need to go thirsty on this hike; there’s a bar or a juice stall every few yards, and a water-seller in just about every shady spot along the way. And, they’re kept supplied by men on specially adapted bikes.
It was on New Year’s Day 1502 that a Portuguese ship, captained by one Gaspar de Lemos, sailed into Guanabera Bay. Thinking that this was the mouth of a river, they called it Rio de Janeiro, or ‘January River’, and, although there wasn’t actually a river here, the name stuck. Nowadays, it’s usually just shortened to ‘Rio’ … and, although there are many other places called ‘Rio Something or Other’ … it’s usually assumed that you are talking about Rio de Janeiro.
From our hotel room, we had a view of the famous ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue. We’ll be visiting that shortly … and standing in what’s probably the only place in Rio from which you can’t see it!