Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) Rio de Janeiro

"People don't take trips . . . trips take people."
John Steinbeck

Today was a beautiful sunny day (almost 80 degrees in winter!) so I decided to take a trip up the Corcovado mountain to see the world famous "Cristo Redentor" (Christ the Redeemer) statue. This statue is the image most associated with Rio de Janeiro. When the Portuguese colonized Brazil they originally called the mountain "the Pinnacle of Temptation" but later changed it to "Corcovado"  (the hunchback). The statue is enormous with Jesus' arms stretched out waiting to greet you. Besides the statue, the view of Rio from Corcovado is incredible! And on the way down from the mountain, we had two detours. The first was a "mirador" (look-out point) which had a great view of the Christ the Redeemer Statue. The second was on the road down, where we stopped to watch and feed the indigenous monkeys of the Tijuca forest (where the Corcovado is located).

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is inside the base of the statue

The inside of the chapel

The view of the statue from the mirador

The statue of Jesus which stands over Rio welcomes and protects the city

The fabulous view of Rio from Corcovado (on the far upper left is the Pao de A├žucar  "Sugar Loaf" mountain)

The indigenous monkeys waiting on top of a snack shop waiting for their next meal

The Tijuca forest is full of monkeys

Friday, June 29, 2012

Blame it on Rio! (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” 

Today we drove 30 minutes from Barra da Tijuca to Vidigal in Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a magical and alive place which transforms you from the moment you get there; the people, the food, the music, the weather-the whole laid back but joyous vibe of the "Cariocas" (as the people of Rio are known). We checked in to the Rio Sheraton which I like because it is the only hotel in Rio de Janeiro which is directly on the beach. It is close enough to the action of Copacabana and Ipanema to hang out there everyday yet far enough from these ares so you can relax. Since it is summer in New York, it is now winter in Rio. That's really not a fair statement, however, since the average winter temperature in Rio fluctuates between 75 degrees in the day and 65 degrees at night-I'll take this winter all year long!

 So if I seem a little out of it, a little lazy in posting, a bit tardy in responding, by all means "Blame it on Rio".

The view from my balcony at the Rio Sheraton (the beach in the background in Ipanema)

Not only is the water beautiful to look at with its myriad of colors but the waves lull you to sleep at night.

The favela of Vidigal is right across from the hotel (they even offer tours there)

Waves crashing on the beach

The palm trees line our almost private beach

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bem-vindo ao Brasil (Welcome to Brazil)

“At night, after the exhausting games of canasta, we would look out over the immense sea, full of white-flecked and green reflections, the two of us leaning side by side on the railing, each of us far away, flying in his own aircraft to the stratospheric regions of our own dreams. There we understood that our vocation, our true vocation, was to move for eternity along the roads and seas of the world. Always curious, looking into everything that came before our eyes, sniffing out each corner but only ever faintly - not setting down roots in any land or staying long enough to see the substratum of things; the outer limits would suffice.” 

We landed in Brazil at about 5:30 pm after our long flight. Usually June is low season in Brazil since it is winter but it happened that Rio de Janeiro was sold out in all its hotels since the city was hosting the 3 day "Rio + 20" environmental conference sponsored by the United Nations. Therefore, we had to get a hotel in Barra da Tijuca which is about 35 minutes outside of the Copacabana/Ipamena area of Rio. Barra da Tijuca is sort of a bedroom community for people who work in the city. It is very clean and full of shopping centers and large condominium complexes. It  has very beautiful beaches and many people say that it reminds them of Miami Beach. We would stay in Barra da Tijuca 3 nights until the hordes of diplomats, businessman, environmentalists and protesters associated with the conference left and then move to a hotel closer to the action.

Praia do Pepe na Barra da Tijuca, Brazil

I can't make it to the "surfing" class at 9:30am

The palm tree lined streets of Barra

The promenade in Barra

This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Rio (you usually only hear of Copacabana and Ipanema)

Street front vendors sell fresh coconut water, fresh juices, even bikinis.

It is winter in Brazil (the winter temperature is usually from 60 -78 degrees)