I imagine space churches will look like this in the future
Centro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Vern: The last two days have had their frustrations. The tram car to the mountain suburb of Santa Theresa was a treat - rattling over the arc of a disused aqueduct in an over-capacity 1920s mode of transport was wonderfully retro - but the 'Colonial gem' we were expecting was riddled with graffiti and the museum we'd planned to see was closed. On a side note, a lot of the graffiti in Rio is amazing and being a big fan of the printed T-shirt, I was assessing each artwork wondering whether it would work on clothing.
We descended back to downtown Rio via the Escadaria de Selaron - a photographer's dream of a staircase. The 215 steps have been covered by painted mosaic and ceramic tiles from all over the world. We found South Africa, Orlando Florida and England tiles. We think the eccentric Chilean artist responsible for this incomplete masterpiece was sitting there, bang in the middle of the steps, because a bearded man with a cat was signing art-postcards for a small gleeful crowd.
We also passed a bizarre 15-storey high concrete cone: the Catedral Metropolitana. We actually wondered in here a few days ago between street-parties - it was surprisingly empty given all the forgiveness required for the debauchery going on around it. The entrance is a large garage-door (still unclear how the Church signed off on this) but once inside, the architects intention reveals itself as four bands of stainglass windows acend from the concrete floor to a massive cross-shaped skylight. I imagine space churches will look like this inside, in the future, but something needs to be done about the exterior of this eyesore. Perhaps that Chilean guy should get his tile-cutters out and get started on a massive mosaic.
Last night: more magical floats and costumes to rival the West End. Since 'backstage' is a road closed off to traffic, one gets an endearing glimpse into the preparations: drummers have a final beer and smoke before an hours banging, some dancers beam with pride as their families fuss over their sequinned lion costumes, while one or two introverts in the same costume look so sheepish that they make the outfit seem ridiculous. The beautiful Samba Queens are hounded by photo-seekers while engineers hurry them into harnesses to hoist them up to the their podiums at the top of the floats, while the staplegun wielding workmen make final preparations on the floats and keep photographers at bay.
Today we walked and walked and walked and walked to near to the bus station. In desperation we finally hailed a cab, who over-charged us criminally, and took us two blocks back to the bus station.
New rule: Never walk to the bus station.
In every city, except London where Victoria Coach Station is inexplicably in uber-posh Belgravia, the bus station is in a seedy and inconvenient part of town that smells like urine. Once there: we queued to get ticket prices; left the queue, and pondered whether our pencilled in trip to Ouro Preto fit the budget; decided it did and rejoined the queue; reached the front to find that there was only one seat available on the bus; and scratched out our plan. Back at the hotel, the concierge 'helped' us cancel our hostel booking in Ouro Preto and book another in Petropolis. By help, I mean he called the number we'd written out on our little list of instructions and said, "allo," and since the hotel on the other end answered, "allo," he took this to mean they spoke English and gave the phone to Andrea who completed the cancellation and booking successfully. We think.