And finally - Rio! (Part 1)
Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog› entry 8 of 9 › view all entries
We have made it to our last stop - Rio de Janerio, known as the ´Marvelous City´ set between mountains and the sea. It is a stunning setting for the city as it crams itself in to any space possible. Favelas climb the mountainsides and skyscrapers line the beaches. We arrived from Ilha Grande via the ferry and bus. Took a taxi from the bus station to our accomodation in Copacabana and set off for the beach. It was a cloudy day but there were still bodies on the beach and playing football. We walked from Copacabana around the corner to Ipanema in the late afternoon light. That evening we had a meal and a few drinks on the beachfront road without going onto the beach itself as it is considered dangerous. Even at 9 and 10pm there were loads of people walking, cycling or jogging along the front, and a fair amount of traffic. There wasn´t really an air of danger even though Copacabana has a reputation for crime and seedyness, got more of an uneasy sense in Sao Paulo.
Wednesday morning brought blue skies and the temperature climbing above 30C which is how it stayed during the rest of our time in Rio. We were on a tour of the city, don´t really go for these generally but the admission prices and transportation around to the main sights is a bit of a pain so this made it easier. The itinerary included Sugarloaf Mountain, some tiled steps, the Metropolitain Cathedral, the Maracana stadium and up Corcovado to Christ the Reedemer statue. First stop Sugarloaf and the two cable car rides to the top, no sight of Jaws from Moonraker knocking about so wouldn´t need to climb out of the car and slide down the cables! The view from the top of Sugarloaf was amazing with the city, mountains, bay and sea unfolding out in front of us. Could see planes making the steep and low descent to the Domestic Airport and landing without skidding off into the sea. Once down we had lunch in an all you can eat buffet place that are so popular in Brazil, so piled the plate up high as it was included in the price.
After lunch we were picking up some extra people for the tour and there was a lot of waiting around and driving around Copacabana. Went across town to the Maracana Stadium one of the biggest (did have a capacity of 200,000 in 1950 but is now 120,000) and legendary arenas of football. It was huge, we looked at the ´Hall of Fame´where stars of Brazil had their footprints in concrete. Then it was to the Sambadrome, where the main event of Carnival is held each year - 60,000 people can be accomodated for the colourful and lively procession of the samba schools that is the highlight of Carnival. Empty it wasn´t that enlightening as to what happened but the small museum gave an idea. A quick stop a the modern Metropolitain Cathedral - another set of numbers - 110m by 90m and holds 20,000 worshipers and it is round. The highlight the four floor to ceiling stained glassed windows. Then we drove to the Lapa neighbourhood where an artist had tiled a staircase up the hill with souviner tiles from places and countries he had visited - there was a tile of a red phonebox from England.
Last stop was up the twisty road to Corcovado mountain and the icon of Rio - Christ the Reedemer. Standing 38 metres tall ontop of a 710m high mountain he gazes out over the city centre with outstretched arms pointing north and south. The last bus ride up to the top was twisty and the driver a little mad. The view again was stunning, the sun had moved behind his head and allowed brilliant views to everywhere. A 360 degree panarama from Ipanema, Cocacabana, Sugarloaf, Centro and to the sprawling northern suburbs with the bay in the background. A pretty special end to the tour.
Part two to follow.....
Iain & Becca