Rio de Janeiro
Written by Michael and Cathri van den Berg
23 Dec to 31 Dec 2012
We arrive in hot and humid Rio from Beunos Aires and are warmly greeted at the airport by Zack and Magda. We take a taxi to the city of Niteroi, across the bay from Rio, over the Rio-Niteroi bridge, with six lanes spanning a length of 9km over water, to Club Naval in Charitas where the yacht is moored.
Public transport here is effective and quite an adventure. During our stay we make use of busses, taxi's and the ferry that runs between Niteroi and Rio.
The busses deserve special mention, as the driving can be better described as racing. From the moment you set foot on the bus you learn to take a firm hold of the yellow piping available as acceleration, changing of gears and braking has you piled on top of each other and other passengers. Its can be fun once you get the hang of it and busses are a convenient and relatively cheap way of getting around Rio and Niteroi, with most busses costing a mere 2.75 Real per person regardless of the distance you travel.
We spend the 24th and 25th of December resting and celebrating Christmas. We exchange gifts and celebrate Shabbat together where we appreciate each other and witness to what God has done and meant to us this year.
On the 26th we start our site seeing. We visit Corcovado mountain, home of Christ the Redeemer statue. We took the scenic train to the top. Studying the statue, the face of Jesus tells a story of love, acceptance and peace. It is a clear day and the views from this, the highest point in Rio at 700m above sea level, is beautiful.
We also visited the botanical gardens and spent some time walking around.
On the 27th we visited sugar loaf mountain which is the other must see viewpoint at 400m above sea level. The views here are breathtaking as well and it gives great perspective of the city layout. We had lunch in a picnic spot nestled within the beautiful forest surrounding Sugar Loaf.
We walked along Copacabana and Ipanema beach, on the pavement as well as against the water (a much cooler alternative) We drank coconut water from the fresh coconuts sold along Ipanema beach. We experienced some severe heat during our stay with temperatures up to 44 degrees Celsius combined with humidity resulting in 49 degrees tangible temperature.
On the 29th we made use of Rio Adventures to go paragliding over Rio. They picked us up at the Copacabana beach, taking us to Sau Conrados Praia do Pepino where the hanggliders and paragliders land. It was a wonderful experience, gliding in the skies above Rio, the birds content to share the skies with you.
Afterwards, still in our sport outfits and tekkies, we went to the shopping mall in Botafogo, which consists of eight floors of beautiful boutique shops. The quality of the more expensive shops was excellent, and the service of the staff exceeding anything we have previously experienced.
Although carnival time is only in February and we would unfortunately then be back home again we wanted to experience something of the festival. We went to see a show at Plataforma, a restaurant and theatre geared to share the carnival spirit around the year. The show was good and the costumes and decor fantastic. We had some carnival experience to take home with us.
We set out on Vagabund from Club Naval in Niteroi at around 16:00 on the 31st Dec to go watch the spectacular New Years fireworks on Copacabana beach. The sea was unexpectantly choppy that evening and we were joined in the water by other ships in all shapes and sizes: from small speedboats to 70-foot motor yachts and 5 huge passenger ships.
The show did not disappoint. From eleven barges the massive display of fireworks was launched forming a line of glittering explosions along the 4km long beach. Even with the barges a few km or so away and the vibrations could be felt on Vagabund.
After the fireworks we started to sail to Ilha Grande for the next part of our vacation.
We enjoyed our visit in Rio, and the hospitality of Zack and Magda, welcoming us onto their boat. And we would definitely recommend Rio de Janeiro as one of the places to visit during your travels.