Day 214. Had a nice late lazy day today and eventually headed out to the tram station near the cathedral to go up the hillside to Santa Teresa. I was advised not to take anything as “everything would get stolen.” However, I did take my camera but made sure that is was securely hidden away, only to see the light of day when no one was looking not that the guidebook had made me paranoid at all! What didn’t help with the fear factor created by the guidebooks and hotel manager was the security guard stood at the back of the tram. He stood there with a pump action shotgun which had the opposite effect to making me feel more safe because surely it now means that if anyone wants to attack the tram they will also have to use a gun!
As we set off the tram went over an old whitewashed aqueduct and stopped halfway along where everyone started whispering while looking over the side. Below us on the floor was a large black fella laid on his back, unconscious. I asked what had happened and was told that this was quite a regular occurrence, the bloke had been knocked out and his shoes stolen. Lucky for me that my shoes are in a bit of a state, worn out and smelly, so I can’t imagine anyone wanting to nick them. The trip was nice though, passing through cobbled streets and past nice old houses. Street kids would run alongside the tram and jump onto the running board playing a kind of tram surfing game. If you’re from Lisbon this place really is a home from home as the little trams of Lisbon travel through similar looking cobbled streets. At the furthest and highest part of the trip you get a clear view of Cristo Redentor on top of Corcovado Mountain.
Back in town I headed to the new cathedral, I don’t know what the best way to describe this place is other than a street cone with the top cut off. Inside is a huge open space completely surrounded by a cone of stained glass but to be honest, as monumental as this is I’ve never been one for these modern churches and cathedrals. I went for a wander through the old centre passing Praça Floriano, Largo da Carioca, the Covento de Santo Antonio and the old royal palace (Paço Imperial) where the Portuguese monarchs once reigned. I thought I’d try and get the ferry to Niteroi but it wasn’t running today due to ferry port repairs, typical.
Back in the hotel I immersed myself in a Saturday early evening TV show. I don’t know what it was called but I can guess that the name was something like “The ‘Who has the best Brazilian crotch’ Show”! From what I could see the programme worked like this, ten women lined up in yellow lycra g-strings while the cameraman zoomed in on their crotches and the audience voted on the best. What criteria they were using to make their votes I shudder to think. Either way I was unsurprisingly transfixed, who says travelling doesn’t broaden the mind. I’m clearly up to date with the cultural diversity of the Brazilian people, and more importantly the one I liked won, how’s that for empathy. As a bonus for winning they even showed her face!
To recover my energy I popped out to a shop to buy some cake and bought a packet which had a picture of a lovely cake on it, however on returning to the hotel it suddenly became apparent that the picture was not of what’s actually in the packet, it was a bleedin’ small stick of margarine. Not anywhere on the packet does it say margarine in any language I just states ‘bolo’ which according to my phrase book is cake! It probably says “can be used to make cake!” The buggers! Not a lot you can do with a small stick of margarine so I’ve fixed my squeaky door with a bit, bought some bread and threw the rest away.
I thought I’d just get my travel documents together and have noticed that my travel insurance ran out today, I’d extended my time in South America but completely forgot about my insurance! Great, I’m in Rio without insurance!!