I am still not sure if I enjoyed my Lisa Rio Tour of Rio's central city and Santa Theresa, but came to appreciate it more after taking an Urban Adventures central city tour which was more fun but less informative. Lisa took us to the older European part of the city and recited detailed information about the city's history organized in a coherent manner and illustrated by the buildings and streets and monuments. But I think she may have had a late night the night before because her spiel was a little disjointed and weary. We could see her scanning her brain for the pertinent information and then it would come out in English (she is a German expat). Then she would scan her brain again and, if that topic was determined to be done, she would say, “OK!” and jump to an entirely different spiel/topic with no transition other than “OK!” Here is where we went in this order:
1 Benedictine cathedral - The angels are awesome! I will love them forever.
2 another cathedral, and another one...
4 a story about the Portuguese emperor who fled ahead of Napoleon’s invasion and needed houses for his nobles. If your house had “PR” marked on it, then you had to vacate and let a Portuguese noble occupy it indefinitely.
5 Discussion of urban slaves who cleaned streets of excrement and were striped from the acid of the urine; and others who sold things. Lisa said everyone had a slave, even freed slaves bought slaves.
6). She talked about cultural centers - such as Banco de Brazil - who uses its mandatory 3% tax money for that purpose. Sounds like that one is worth a visit.
7). Went to the famous old coffee place and had an eclair.
8). In a car, went to Santa Theresa but it was SO LAME. Maybe there’s nothing to see but the Seleron staircase. We stopped at an artist kiosk but the “artist” appeared to be mostly a con artist if any type of artist who sells trash with a little paint on it.
Then we walked uphill, I guess to prove how steep it is, but the views were not good due to clouds and haze.
Then we took the tram down, which gave us good views of Petrobras and the national cathedral inspired by a Mayan temple.
I decided on 4 stars because the tour made me want to know more -- it made me wish that I could take a tour with a college professor who specializes in Brazililan history and tells good stories. But Lisa's tour was a good introduction, even if dry at times.
Also - her original quoted price was R$80 (more than other tours) but she reduced it to R$60 after she didn't show up on the appointed day. I haven't tried them yet, but I think one of the free tours ending at a shop might be a better value.
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