Rio has been such a blast! I really love it here. Not sure if I could get used to the extreme amount of people, but really, what a cool place. We have gone to the beach twice now (first time I got a little too much sun) and it's quite an experience. There are vendors constantly walking by selling clothing, tapestries, jewelry, snacks, drinks, anything you can possibly think of, etc. It gets to be annoying after a while, but it comes with the territory. We enjoyed "Biscoitos Globo" which were donut-shaped snacks that somewhat resemble a wafer mixed with a funyun. We had both sweet and salty Globos and washed them down with Matte (pronounced Ma+ch) tea, which is a slightly more flavorful version of sweet tea. Paula is a big fan of Matte! We also enjoyed agua de coco (coconut water you drink right out of the coconut). There are so many shops in Ipanema. I've spotted a couple of McDonalds, KFCs, Subways, and even Dominos. But thankfully, most of the restaurants and shops are not gross American fast food and there have been so many new things to try! On our walk back from the beach we drank Suco de Milho (corn juice), which I was very skeptical of but I ended up really liking it.
After the beach we ate lunch a the apartment that was prepared by the maid. Yep, that's right, there is a live-in maid that lives here 5 days/week and does everything from making the bed to preparing meals. She also does all of my laundry, and of course cleans too. I could get used to this! Anyway, after lunch mau tia (chee-a) Miriam (=My aunt Miriam) and I went to Cristo Redentor (pictures below). Wow, what a spectacular view of the city. I wish a camera could capture the magnificence of it, but I'm afraid you have to see it in person. It really takes your breath away.
After a few other stops at historical sites and the famous botanical gardens here in Rio, we got some ice cream and headed home for dinner (also prepared by the maid). I'm definitely tired after this long day, but glad to have seen so many wonderful attractions. Tomorrow is my last full day in Rio, and Friday I will leave for Catagu