Brazil is not just another half-globe. It’s another world. I can call it fancy and chaotic one. It is the land of love, hope, and coffee. I have been dreaming of Brazil since the very childhood. I have been watching numerous Brazilian novels when I was 12. So, I fell in love with Rio long before my arrival here. A dream came true in spring 2012. The tickets had been bought. The “Windsor Copa Hotel” had been booked. I had a dream so I wasn’t confused by long twenty hours flight and two interlinings.
First impressions of Rio
The love of life was springing here. Bronzed and smiling buddies were playing football just here on Copacabana beach. Striking Latina girls were the best samba dancers. Groovy music was playing everywhere. Rio was the city like no others I had visited before. The downtown area and colonial buildings were living in harmony. An affluent Rio part was situated just near the favelas. In these deprived city areas hungry and poor people were struggling for their living every day. I decided to become a full-time Rio explorer. Of course, I had some trips across the suburbs but I spent most of my holidays in the Brazilian capital. Sometimes there was rainy weather but that fact didn’t darken my mood at all. You’ll see some cloudy days on my photos.
Five must-sees in Rio
All these places can be clichéd for sophisticated travelers. But for me, they were brand new and unbeaten. Here’s my own glance at well-known places. It is just based on my personal impressions.
Almost two million tourists visit the Cristo Redentor Statue every year. The Corcovado Mountain top has been the tourist magnet for Christian pilgrims and tourists more than 80 years. The place was unreal one for me. I was astonished by Rio cityscapes from above. While standing on the viewpoint I was feeling levitation. The city streets looked like the ant-nest. There were high buildings, crowds of people, streets drowned in green trees somewhere under my eyes. The main Rio places such as Copacabana beach, Formula 1 tracks or Sugar Loaf Mountain were clearly visible. And Jesus Christ who was gazing at big city vanity with all His wisdom.
Early morning is the best time for coming here. There are no crowds of people hunting for a cool selfie. It is possible to get there by subway or bus. You should take buses № 570, 583 or 584. The tickets are not expensive at all. Just 5 Reals (1.5 USD). Subway price is just the same. Then you should proceed to Corcovado. The funicular train will be the best way to get here. It takes 20 minutes and 75 Reals (15 USD) to reach the mountain top. The way lies through the romantic Tijuca Park.
Pao De Acucar
This was a little bit bizarre mountain standing proud from blue Atlantic waters. The Corcovado aerial views were not enough for me so I had taken the decision to climb the Sugar Loaf. I have been told some stories about its name. Some locals told that it was looking like a large piece of sugar for them. The legend was that the first Portuguese arrived in 1500 and set up some sugar plantations near the mountainside. It was easy for me to climb the mountain. First of all, I had conquered the Urca mountain top. It was worth going up in spite of fatigue. My way was lying through the little park. There were wet jungles. I was breathing fresh air and I even met some cute and funny Capuchin monkeys. Then I have bought a ticket per 40 Reals (11 Euro) and took the funicular. While going to the top I was enjoying the sights of Guanabara Bay.
This one was a double-dealer. Such a funny name. Such an ambient part of the Old Rio. It seemed to be respectable and lordly for me at first sight. Old colonial houses, Catholic churches, and pebble streets made the whole atmosphere. When the city had fallen asleep the hipsters were waking up. An evening had just begun. Lapa was flooding with careless youngsters, painters, and musicians. All the bars, pubs and restaurants had just opened. It was a prime time for me to side with this Latin fun. I’ve heard the Leviano Bar considered being one of the best in Lapa but I think it depends on someone’s mood. Every venue in Lapa had its own unique spirit. It was not so important where to set up my body and line up with the Bohemian lifestyle. Rua de Joaquim Silva had become my favorite place. All the freaks were crowding there. I was hearing some rhythms of samba or bossa-nova. Cool local girls skipping the mind-blowing Brazilian music. I’ve found it similar to Montmartre style. I have seen Lapa during the day-time. I was hanging around the old white Aqueduto Da Carioca. In the XVIII century, this one provided Rio with clean water. In 2012 it was the place for local romantic natures and tourists. Escadaria Salaron had become another favorite of mine. I had just paid my attention to colored steps and I was eager to know the story of this masterpiece…
I could tell it to be the most beautiful staircase of Old Rio. All the 215 steps were covered with ceramic pieces of unthinkable colors. Somewhere before 1990, it was just usual old staircase leading to Santa Teresa Monastery. After it became the living proof of the unusual devotion to one man’s hobby. This was about one Chilean painter named Jorge Selaron. His dream was to restore the dime monastery staircase. During 23 years of the work, he was buying colored mosaic pieces in junk shops. Then empathic tourists gave him some jazzy ceramic puzzles. While passing slowly through these steps I was observing some abstract figures paved here. I have seen the green Brazilian flag and the black pregnant woman. I’ve heard some explanation about this sketch from locals. I was told that it was Selaron’s wife who had died while her childbirth. Inconsolable painter decided to keep some memory of here just here, on these steps. It was a very sad story end. Jorge Salaron was found dead just here in January 2013. All that remains is our homage to this great man’s work. You may take a subway and reach Cinelandia or Gloria station. It’s necessary to take a pleasant walk and you’ll find yourself on the Escadaria Salaron.
Photo by Elizeu Dias
I didn’t know that it was a Cathedral. I thought that it was something like Mayan Pyramids. Or it could be some industrial structure. I was a little bit shell-shocked when I knew that it was San Sebastian church. The local architect Edgar Fonseka was the author of this groundbreaking idea. He had been creating the Cathedral from 1964 until 1979. I was not far away from the truth while thinking about Mayans. He had been inspired by native Mexicans religion. His idea was that conical shape was imaging the intimacy with the Lord. There was some mystical spirit inside. The sunlight was falling through these high windows making the unreal figures. Another cross-shaped window crowned the Cathedral’s roof. Due to the conic shape, there was good acoustics. The priest songs were flowing well to my ears.
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