Penguin Island, Antarctica 2008

Thursday, March 3, 2011

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2 - Rio de Janerio Day 2

This a passenger change over day and the beginning of our last segment! By the time we head for breakfast at 9AM, the ship is quiet. We have no tours today but have made the acquaintance two representatives of Amsterdam Sauer, a jewelry firm here in Rio. They have offered, in order to get us to their store, the use of a car, driver and guide for a private tour of our own design. Carolyn bought her Citrine from their shop on Sugar Loaf Mountain yesterday and she wants to find some matching, smaller stones to go with the large stone.

True to their word, we meet up with Edwardo and Marcio in the terminal and are given a car and driver and a young man named Lucas for a guide and off we go to take some photos of buildings we only glimpsed yesterday. It is spitting rain and getting darker but we do manage to see what we want to see and take photos.
We visit the stunning Candelaria Cathedral, the old colonial church, built in the 1700's, with its ceiling paintings of the discovery and founding of Brazil,
the Imperial Paca, home of the Emperor’s Palace,
other governmental buildings from the colonial period and the Imperial period
and the original location of the wharf for the city of Rio; now in the heart of the old colonial city downtown.
From there we go to the beautiful theater building that is being restored. Rio is in the process of cleaning and repairing the city in preparation for the World Cup in 2012 and the Olympics in 2016.
Traffic in the old city is impossible with narrow one-way streets and no parking, but our driver manages to get us around. We finally break free of the congestion and head for Copacabana Beach for a picture of the beach since all we got yesterday were ones from the bus window.
Too bad it isn’t as nice a day, but there are people out on the beach just the same! Plus there are signs that carnival will begin in just a few days! Lucas was told to take us to the old Fort, but we pass as time is getting away from us.

From there we go for a photo stop on Ipanema Beach. This is a favorite surfing beach and the water is usually much more dangerous.
About 11:30AM we arrive at their store, several blocks off of Ipanema Beach. After being shown their gem museum, we are turned over to Hilde, a large woman of obvious German extraction to help us find what we want and to sell us what she can. We knew this was going to be the game when we signed on so we sit back and enjoy the dance. Gem and jewelry shopping in a foreign country is all part of the experience!

Carolyn finds the Citrines she wants as well as two amethysts. Hilde tries to sell us one of several smallish Imperial Topaz. These run $3,000 to $8,000. No sale. Then she tries to sell Dick a cabochon cut, Cat’s Eye Tourmaline for a ring or a much larger one to Carolyn for a pendant. Both are very nice but at $2,600 for the ring stone and $8,000 for the larger one, we again pass and escape for a nominal sum. But Carolyn leaves with new ideas for some jewelry pieces!

About 2:20PM they call a car and we are taken back to the ship and are on board by 4PM. There has been some confusion with the new passenger's luggage and customs. The luggage has just arrived...three hours late and there is a relay going on to get it all aboard in time for our 5PM sailing!
We head up to the observation lounge to stake out a seat, get a drink and a little snack to watch the 5PM sail away. The sun never came out, but the rain stopped and the clouds lifted so we can see both Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer...what a site!
We have really enjoyed Rio!

We have dinner reservations at "Signatures" at 6:30PM. The menu we like is on again and we both have saved up all day for the meal. We arrive promptly at 6:30PM, are seated and handed our menus. Good Lord, they have done it to us again! After carefully checking and confirming the menu before making the reservation two days ago, they have gone and changed to the one we don’t like! Well, not being bashful, we get up and politely (sort of) explain our problem. The sweet hostess that we like, says "the chef changed the menu today...don’t we like anything on the menu?" Well, there is a lamb entree that might be alright, but we are too hungry for just one course. We tell her thanks, but no thanks and walk out. Fuming and shaking our heads, we go on down to Compass Rose and are seated, but Carolyn goes to check and see if there is anything available in Prime 7, the steakhouse. On the way she runs into Franco, the one that confirmed the Signatures menu and tells him that the menu was changed on us again despite his confirming it for us. He is rather curt to Carolyn and says that he will make the things we like in the Compass Rose anytime with 24 hours notice...he misses the whole point...the Compass Rose chef and dinning room are different from the Signatures chef and dinning

Wonder of wonders, there is room in Prime 7 and we move there. This hostess is surprised to see us and asks why we are not in Signatures. We explain the problem and she remembers confirming the menu for Carolyn and making the reservation. Well, anyway, we have a very nice meal in Prime 7.

Upon leaving the restaurant, Dick spots the assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Rick. Dick introduces himself and recounts tonight’s problem. While they are talking, some man walks up, rudely butts in and demands to be seated in Compass Rose. That does it! Dick flashes off and tells the guy that he is talking to Rick now and to wait his turn. He does! Rick promises to look into the matter and says he will be in touch tomorrow.

Well fed and feeling a little smug about telling the "butt-in-ski" to back off, we stroll arm-in-arm through the Compass Rose to the elevators and head for our room. Tomorrow is a sea day.

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