Mike Baginski, world traveler and Bon Vivant from Newport Beach, arrived just in time for the big party. He brought Marline, a local lady he met at the Blumar Travel agency, who helped us make reservations for all of the celebrations.
On the first sunny day, we jumped at the chance to take a bus tour, with Corcovada the prime point of interest. The bus stopped first at the soccer stadium, where we were allowed to spend fifteen minutes taking pictures of the locked gate; no one was allowed inside. Then we proceeded to the SambaDromo, where we were allowed to watch a video of last year's Carnival parade, wasting more time. Finally we started up the hill to the 100 foot tall statue of Christ, arms outstretched, overlooking the city from a vantage-point some 2000 feet up. It would have been spectacular if clouds hadn't formed while we wasted hours along the way. We pushed our way through a mob of tourists to catch glimpses of Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches through the mist. To make matters worse, the bus which delivered us to this fiasco took almost an hour to pick us up, more than the time we were allowed to spend on the hill. It was, without a doubt, the worst of our city-tour experiences. Skip the tour. Take a taxi to the Corcovado train which goes up the hill. Save your time and your money.
The Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí is a purpose-built parade area built for the Rio Carnival every February.
The costumes may weigh as much as 40 pounds.
The Sambadrome tour delayed our arrival until fog rolled in.
Sugarloaf Mountain hiding in the mist
Farmer's Market on the street below our hotel room.
Dinner with Mike Baginski, a Newport Beach neighbor, who was staying in our hotel.
Flower stands spring up on New Year's Eve to supply roses and white gladiolas to those wishing to cast them into the ocean as an offering to the Gods, who will grant three wishes. By late afternoon, the beach was covered with flowers which the waves returned, granting the purchaser's wishes.
New Year's Eve is a special time for Brasilians; it means hotels can jack rates up out of sight, require a minimum of three or four nights at the inflated rate, and charge even more astronomical prices for their "Revillion" parties, little more than nice buffets with unlimited booze. Mike and Marline joined us for the 4th floor party at the Meridian hotel. From their balcony, looking out over Avenida Atlantico and Copacabana Beach, one could see all the open spaces rapidly filling with people. By 11:30 PM, it was wall-to-wall people.
The fireworks display at midnight was impressive. Launched from a barge just offshore, the barrage was continuous for twenty minutes. Smoke from the first ten minutes collected so heavily over the beach, it was difficult to see the second half of the show. It was a free show for the 2 million Brasilian animals who herded onto Copacabana Beach. Each one brought at least one bottle of wine or champagne which, when emptied, was left on the sand. By 2:00 AM, it was difficult to walk around the bottles on the beach as we went to throw our flowers
New Year's Eve, December 31, 2004
Celebrating New Year 2005 with two million of our closest friends.
Dancing the night away.
Waiting for the midnight fireworks to start.
Everyone takes flowers to the beach, makes a wish, and tosses the flowers into the water.
If the waves return your flowers, you will get your wish
The flowers always come back !!
The hard part was getting to the shore without twisting an ankle on the empty champagne bottles that litterally covered the beach
By 9:00 AM in the morning, the beach was perfectly clean! It must have taken a crew of hundreds to clean it.
New Year's Day, 2005, 10:00 AM
We went to the beach expecting to find two million champagne bottles
Every bottle had been picked up !! The beach was pristine.