Every day can´t be a beach day so our travels include taking in the traditional sights of the city as well as visiting some notable buildings and gardens. We start with visits to the mountaintops that offer some stunning views of the city when the weather cooperates.
The weather is not kind to us at Corcovado where Rio´s iconic Cristo Redentor overlooks the city. The 98-foot-tall messiah is reached by a railroad that climbs 2300 feet through the rainforest of Tijunga National Park. This park preserves the hills of the city while also providing a place where the poor of the city continue to illegally build the "favelas" that have been a major challenge for the city in recent years.
We spend an incredible morning in the Botanical Gardens that were established here by the king of Portugal two centuries ago. There is a wonderful assortment of tropical plants and the central allee of imperial palms is unforgettable.
Of course we also take in the architectural scene here. Much of the very old neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro have been demolished over the years, but fragments of the colonial city still remain. Most plazas and buildings have been preserved as monuments to the past rather than as an integral part of the city´s life.
Rio and most of Brazil, though, have an affection for their "Architect Laureate," Oscar Niemeyer. Still practicing at the age of 100 (and recently remarried), his work has created a very unique spirit for Brazilian architecture. We visit his Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi as preparation to see much more of his art in the coming days.