Although downtown Rio de Janeiro has many structures and locations of historic significance to Brazil, our #RioLIVE experience in the neighborhood of Porto Maravilha (“marvelous port”) on this day focused more on the recently renovated part of Rio, the port area. I’ve traveled to Rio many times since 1999 and recall when the port area was filled with dilapidated warehouses, an area that was formerly largely to be avoided. However, with the transformation of this part of the city that took place in advance of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the changes in this area have been truly remarkable. It reminded me of the Embarcadero renovation in my own city, San Francisco, that took place in the years following the great 1989 Northern California earthquake, when a seismically unsafe freeway was torn down, which opened up fabulous views of San Francisco Bay, and an environmentally friendly streetcar line was placed along the beautiful new boulevard.
Our RioandLearn Escola tour began with a walk along the waterfront, where there once had been a freeway blocking the view of the bay. Now there is a pleasant pedestrian walkway that provides views across the water to some of the facilities and ships of the Brazilian navy.
The highlight of our trip was a visit to the Museu do Amanhã (“Museum of Tomorrow”), a splendid, glistening white, soaring example of modern architecture on a pier extending out into Guanabara Bay. I have always been a fan of science museums and, I must say, this is one of the best of that genre. On entry, you should be sure not to miss the 360 degree theater, where an IMAX type movie gives you a concept of some of the exhibits in the museum. Our group actually watched this “deitado”, i.e., lying on the floor of the theatre and looking upward. Following the movie, we engaged with all kinds of “touch and learn” exhibits, each of which you activate with a passcard from the museum.
After the Museu da Amanhã, we walked further along the renovated waterfront, where a “VLT” (light rail vehicle) now runs, one of only two of its kind in the world where the power for the cars is recharged as the train is stopped at each station. During the walk, we had the opportunity to view rows and rows of mural artwork, which merited plenty of photos of the group.
We ended this interesting afternoon (in which I clocked 14,000 steps!), with a cold refreshing round of beers in an outdoor bar/café downtown, before heading back to our apartments via the Rio Metrô.
William “Guilherme” Owen, United States
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