dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flying Down to Rio

In my previous post I wrote about a tour which I took in 1986 to Brazil and Argentina.  Our trip began in Rio de Janeiro.  Although Rio is neither the capital nor the largest city of Brazil (those honors belong to Brasilia and Sao Paulo respectively), it is certainly the country's most famous city.  In spite of the poverty of the "favelas" (shantytowns) which cling to the hillsides, Rio has a cachet of glamour with images of beaches and Carnival and samba dancers.  With its coastal location and dramatic mountain peaks, it has one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world.

The flight to Brazil is almost as long as flying to Europe.  We took an overnight flight on Varig Airlines from Miami.  The next morning we were in Rio.

Our hotel was a beautiful high rise on one of the most famous beaches in the world... Ipanema.

Notice the mosaic sidewalks for which Rio is famous.

The mountains in the background are called "Dois Irmaos"  (Two Brothers)
Fortunately, I did not go swimming at the beach.  Not only can the surf be dangerous, but I have read that due to the city's poor waste treatment system, the bacterial level of the water is often dangerously high. 
One of the most popular activities in the city is to take the train which climbs the 2300 foot high granite peak of Corcovado.  We didn't have to wait long for the train, but I have read that nowadays tourists sometimes have to wait in line for hours.
Atop Corcovado is Rio's most famous landmark... the statue of Christ the Redeemer.  This art deco statue is 98 feet high and its arms stretch 92 feet wide. It was constructed between 1922 and 1931.  In 2007 it was declared one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".

The view from Corcovado on a clear day is amazing.

Rivaling Ipanema in fame is Copacabana Beach.  In the background you can see Rio's other famous mountain, Sugarloaf (Pao de Azucar).
Like Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain is a monolith of granite.  It rises from the edge of Rio's harbor.  A cable car takes visitors to the top of this mountain also for more spectacular views.
(Yours truly, waiting for the cable car)
Far below, Copacabana Beach
Corcovado with its statue of Christ as seen from Sugarloaf


  1. Great post, William!

    I have been to Rio twice, and it is, quite simply, the most beautiful city in the Americas. Rio was a real bargain in 2002, and much more expensive on my return visit in 2011. Good food, great beaches, beautiful people; what's not to love?

    Oh, and there are less than 100 days until the Rio Olympics!

    1. There is no denying that the physical setting of Rio is absolutely stunning. However, I have to admit that on that trip I enjoyed Buenos Aires more.