Jan 19, 09- Buenos Aries- Monica Varela, email- [email protected]. Had an excellent 8.5 hrs with Monica and driver with van (large van could have taken more with us on the tour). Cost of $50/ hr plus tip. We will be using Monica again on our second leg of the trip- Feb 3 & 4, 09, details TBD and likely using public transit to reduce hourly costs
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Jan 24, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Martha Vasconcellos, e-mail- [email protected]. Unfortunately day started socked in with clouds and rain. As morning progressed, rain and clouds lifted allowing us limited views from Corcovado Hill (Christ the Redeemer Statue)- still panoramic; and clear views from the first cable car station on Sugar Loaf but rain came back with the clouds at the top/ second station. Notwithstanding we had an outstanding 8 hrs of time with Martha and car with driver, being picked up at the cruise terminal around 8:30 PM and returning around 4:30 PM. Cost 8 hrs $385 ($97/ each) plus tip plus Tijuca National Park Entrance fees and Sugar Loaf cable Car Fees.

In the evening Martha arranged for us to be picked up by a taxi friend of hers and driven to Rio Scenarium Bar, a well known "night club" with show. However, this did not work out. Martha had booked a stage front table but on arrival it had been given away to another party. We returned to the ship and Martha provided us with a full refund for the reservation costs.

We ended this leg of the cruise with our good friends who headed off the next day to Iguazu Falls. Accordingly, all following costs are for two people unless otherwise stated

Jan 25, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Another wonderful 8 hr day with Martha Vasconcellos. Looked liked we were going to have another wet day but rain and clouds disappeared. Spent the morning as a private tour with her using the public transportation (bus, subway, taxi as required) and the afternoon as part of a small group for a Favela Tour (approx 20% of the Rio population live on lands (overlooking Rio) as squatters and many build their homes from "borrowed materials" All of the Favelas, except one, are controlled by Drug Lords. Only a few guides have arranged with the Drug Lords for "right of safe passage" and part of the tour costs (R$65/ each) goes back into the community to maintain a public school (more to follow on this interesting experience in a separate report). Cost $90 ($45/each) plus tip plus public transportation plus R$65 each for Favela Tour

Martha has a passion for her city that makes her tours sparkle and for a party of two her rate, without car is only $18/ hr

Jan 26, 09- Rio de Janeiro- Martha was not available and she arranged for her friend/ fellow tour guide Ana Lemos to take us on our last 8 hr private tour of Rio. This time we focused on downtown historical sites and Rio's amazing Botanical Garden, which Ana had great enthusiasm and knowledge. Another delightful day at a cost $148 ($72/ each)

We reluctantly left Rio planning to return again

By now, you may be thinking to yourselves that we are spending a ton of money on private tours. Yes, we found it expensive compared to our other cruises but Oceania's excursions are substantially more expensive
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Dean & Gayle
# 44- Crown Princess- Northern Transatlantic Sept 2, 2017
# 45- Avalon Vista Xmas Market Cruise- Nov 25, 2017 Prague to Vienna

Hope to meet you on board