Destination Rio de Janeiro, the second travel to the former capital of Brazil.
On the way to the office of RIOTUR, along Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo and Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Day 2, 11.00
I wandered through the narrow alley in the historic center of Rio. Old colonial houses, alternated with small churches, restaurants and bars. For a while, it was as if I were back in Portugal, in the historic center of Porto or Lisbon or Braga. This thought was quite logical since many colonists came from Portugal and constructed their houses in the characteristic Portuguese style. I observed an interesting collection of colorful houses with antique balconies. It was obvious to me that most of these historic houses were not in a good condition. Not only because of the paint peeling, or weathered and roughened wood, but also the walls had many little and larger cracks, and even holes. Broken windows that were not replaced. These houses badly need thorough restoration. Soon. It was in contrast with the historic center of Salvador, Pelourinho, which was restored – with the help of UNESCO – some time ago.
Inside the church
Churches of Carmel
Again, I encountered a church and I entered it. This church has a long name: Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo. The church of the Third Order of Mount Carmel. Next to this church, there was another church: Nossa Senhora do Carmo. Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The first church was richly decorated. From the floor up to the ceiling. This church was not decorated in Rococo style, but in the abundant Baroque style.
The greenish light that peered to the glass-stained windows provided a mystical atmosphere in the church. A life-size statue of Holy Mary stood behind the altar. She had Baby Jesus in her arms. The background was sky blue, as it should give us the impression that here must be one of the gates to Heaven.
I left the church, and entered the city center. I was searching a good city plan, and where you usually obtain such city maps? Yes, at the local tourist information center. They even provide you such a map for free. In Salvador, the information center was next to the Lacerda Elevator, at the entrance to Pelourinho. In Belo Horizonte, a small tourist center is located next to Parque Municipal, the city park. And there are other centers at the bus station (Rodoviária), the city market (Mercado Central), and in a museum at Praça da Liberdade. But in Rio, that was another story. At present (2012) there are many more tourist centers. But in 2006, it was hard to find such a center. One office is found near Leme Beach, and another in the city center. And now I was in the center. I went to search this RIOTUR office. IT proved to be much harder than I had imagined. I hard to ask a number of bystanders, and not everyone knew the correct location or even was not aware of the existence of it. There were many roadsigns to various touristic locations, but there lacked the blue sign with the famous ‘i’. IT was a big puzzle for me. .
Finally, I was directed to a tall building. A university was located there. The tourist information center should be here? There were no signs inside the building to guide me to the RIOTUR office. I had to ask again. I had to take the elevator to the ninth floor. And indeed, there was the RIOTUR tourist information center. The guardsman approached me and asked the reason of my visit. He allowed me to enter. I went to one of the desks and set down. I asked the assistant for a city plan. She quickly handed me a map and provided me more useful information about Rio: a guide with all touristic highlights. She had no problem to hand me another copy of the city plan. I asked here about the safety in the streets in Rio. She replied that Rio is quite safe at day, but it might be quite dangerous at night. This is what we call inside information?
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