A Travellerspoint blog

Cristo Redentor up close!

Chapter 5: Corcovado Mountain

all seasons in one day 85 °F

Corcovado, or Hunchback mountain, is in central Rio. Located in Tijuca Forest, the 2,329 ft granite peak supports the famous statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).

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At 124 feet including the pedestal, Cristo Redentor can be seen from nearly every street corner of Rio, but it is breathtaking up close!

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With arms stretching 92 feet wide, Nathan couldn't resist a hug:

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Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the Art Deco style statue in with the open arms as a symbol of peace.

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The statue was a collaboration between Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, with the face created by the Romanian artist Gheorghe Leonida. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931, and cost the equivalent of $250,000.

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It's made of reinforced concrete with an outer layer of soapstone that looks like marble mosaic up close.

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We enjoyed a picnic lunch with this view of the back of the statue:

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And these views looking down on Rio:

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And of course there was no shortage of Cristo themed goods at the gift shop:

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Since we got up so early to beat the crowds to Corcodova, we were home in time for a nap and an evening swim!

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A huge than you to Nathan for getting me a Ukulele for my birthday! It's one of the best presents I've ever received and I've been playing every day. Here's a little tune I've been working on :)

Posted by wintermaasz 13:22 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Welcome to the Hippie Fair

Chapter Four: Ipanema, Leblon, and how to shop like a local

all seasons in one day 88 °F

It rained a bunch this week, but we managed a couple of beautiful outings on the few dry days we had.

On Friday, we took a taxi to Leblon, which is considered the most affluent neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. Leblon sits on the cliffs overlooking Ipanema beach and it's no surprise that it's home to some of Brazil's most rich and famous with views like this:

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From the boardwalk vista we spent an hour watching 20 foot swells crash dramatically into the rocks below.

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We were amazed at the multitude of brave surfers attempting to catch waves so close to the rocks.

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On Sunday, we went to the Hippie Fair in Ipanema! In 1968, a group of hippies started a weekly market at General Osório park and today the Feira Hippie de Ipanema is still going strong. We spent hours meandering through some 700 stalls of authentic Brazilian folk and contemporary art, jewelry, and crafts. Sarah made a valiant effort at haggling in Portuguese.

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Lastly, here are a couple of shots of the houses at the end of out street that are built into the side of a volcanic mountain separating Copacabana from Botafogo:

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PS Still fighting the good fight! #ZikaZero

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Posted by wintermaasz 20:26 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Rio by Bike

Chapter 3: Guanbara Bay and Ipanema Lagoon

sunny 88 °F

Since Carnival ended, we've spent some time recuperating.

Rio is a great place to ride a bike. Despite the volcanic mountains rising up dramatically throughout the city, the surrounding streets are surprisingly flat and there are are many lovely bike paths and parks scattered around Rio.

In our last days in Santa Teresa, our host Henrique and his wife were kind enough to lend us their bicycles and suggested we explore the area along Guanbara Bay. We started at Marina de Gloria and rode through the Flamengo neighborhood following a beautiful bike path through the park that stretches several miles along the coast.

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Along the way we appreciated gorgeous views of the bay and some crazy tropical trees :)

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In spite of the ominous clouds, not a drop of rain fell, and we rode over ten miles and managed to get some great shots of Rio's most famous landmark, Cristo Redentor.

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Nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty and perched on a mountain that looms 2,300 feet above the city, you can see this statue of Jesus from almost every corner of Rio. Here's another nice shot from our second bike trip around the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon a week later:

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In Ipanema, we rented some biked (at a steep $3 per hour) to ride the short distance around Rio's largest lagoon.

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The Olympic rowing events will be held here this summer and it is a gorgeous body of water nestled in the middle of the bustling metropolitan area along the edges of Ipanema and Copacobana.

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Lastly, here are a couple of our other favorite photos from our adventures throughout the city this week:

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It's also Sarah's birthday today, so I surprised her with a tiny cake for two last night and sang "Happy Birthday" to her at midnight. This year looks to be the best one yet!
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Posted by wintermaasz 07:51 Archived in Brazil Comments (3)

Carnival

Chapter 2: The city that really doesn't sleep

sunny 98 °F

Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest street party in the world, with an average of 2 million revelers each day. The weeklong celebration dates back to 1723, so you can imagine the local Cariocas take it seriously.

It really is an all-day, all-night affair made up of hundreds of blocos, or street parties. The organization of a bloco is rather uncomplicated: Everyone puts on their best costume and shows up at a previously arranged meeting point ready to dance.

Since a crowded party seemed like a pick pocket's dream, we often left the camera at home for most of our bloco excursions, but here are some gems from a delightful parade that passed in front of our door at 8:45AM on a Wednesday. It had likely been going on all night as you can tell by the smiling faces ;)

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The crown jewel of Carnival is the Sambadromo Marquês de Sapucaí. The Sambadromo is a massive parade arena in downtown Rio where samba schools compete each year. Each school chooses a theme, writes a song, and puts on an 80-minute choreographed parade from one end of the dome to the other.

The show begins at 9PM and usually lasts until 7AM, with approximately 18 schools performing over 3 nights and a champions parade the following weekend. Since seating is first come, first serve we arrived early and got some great before shots:

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But it didn't take long to fill up.

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The stadium seats 18,000 and will host many of the athletic events at the 2016 summer Olympics.

Schools can often spend over a million dollars on their floats and have up to 4,000 dancers and musicians in the arena at one time.

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It's hard to capture in photos how massive and intricate the floats are. Each of the statues in the picture above is an actual person painted gold performing 80 minutes of choreography. To give you an idea of how elaborate these floats can be, here's a short excerpt from a Jurassic Park themed float:

And what would the night be without a couple of floats we didn't understand at all?

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Yes, that is Jack Black from the 1996 "hit" movie Gulliver's Travels. What is he doing in a Carnival float? Who knows!? Kind of like the creepy clown or the cowboys dancing with a rooster on a giant hat, a lot of this just doesn't make sense!

But the costumes were so overwhelmingly creative and beautiful. Here are just a few of them:

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Some final gems from the evening:

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After an all-nighter at the Sambadromo, we decided to take a break from the insanity and stick closer to home to try out a top-rated tree house restaurant in Santa Teresa. Can you spot Nathan?

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And just as we were asking for the check, this happened:

This short, but sweet video really captures the essence of the festivities this week. There is a spirit of joyfulness and camaraderie in every corner of the city, and we are so grateful that we got to be a part of it!

Until next week, até mais tarde! Tchau!

Posted by wintermaasz 19:31 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Bom Dia from Rio de Janeiro!

Chapter 1: We made it to Rio

sunny 95 °F

Hello Friends, Family, & Fellow Adventurers,

We made it to Rio! Now many of you might be saying "didn't they leave weeks ago?"

Yes, but there has been a lot to get acquainted with in Copacabana, Brazil:

- miles of gorgeous beach filled with nearly naked gorgeous people

- totally new and magical tropical fruits

- live music wafting from alleys and bodegas

- tropical weather (see previous nearly naked people comment)

- not to mention it is CARNIVAL aka Halloween meets the most epic 24/7 weeklong, citywide block party

Needless to say, we are top notch!

Now, before we dive into photos galore, we want to send a sincere thanks to our team of worriers. Yes, we heard about the Zika virus. No, neither of us have microcephaly. Yes, we are being cautious. In fact, bug spray has become our official daily perfume!

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(Yes Mom, the OFF! I'm holding contains DEET.)

We did a day trip to Urca, which is the most traditional and wealthy residential neighborhood in Rio. Although most of the neighborhood dates from the 1920s, parts of it look colonial. It is also considered one of the safest areas of the city as it is home to the Forte São João military base at the foot of the Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain. There is beautiful walking path that wraps around the bay with jungle to one side and gorgeous views of many small offshore islands and the ocean beyond.

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Here we caught our first glimpse of Marmosets, known here as Micas, and boy are they cute! We could not figure out why the locals stared at us taking photos, until we later realized they are basically the squirrels of Rio, and if you look around you can catch them running on phone lines and jumping from tree to tree.

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We ended our day watching a tropical sunset from the most delicious restaurant: Julius Brasserie. This view accompanied by ceviche, grilled ostrich, and local goat cheese bruschetta was priceless. We found our happy place :)

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After a few short days in Copacabana, we moved north to the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, where we were generously hosted by our friend, Henrique, and his family for 10 days. Santa Teresa is located on top of a hill, closer to the heart of Rio, and is famous for its winding, narrow streets. It is also chalked full of magnificent ruins of mansions from the 1920s, and the neighborhood has been revived as a bohemian mecca. It is home to renowned street artists, art studios, and galleries, and has vibe similar to Haight Ashbury in San Francisco.

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Perhaps one of the more famous public works is Escadaria Selarón. Straddling both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods, Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón (pictured in the sexy red shorts below) began renovating the dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house in 1990. There are now 250 steps which are covered in roughly 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world.

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We moved back to Copacabana a few days ago, and we will be more diligent about bringing the camera around our own neighborhood in the coming weeks. Carnival technically ends this weekend, so we will also be sorting through the thousands of photos from that and sharing them in installment 2, so come on back next Sunday, ya hear?

Happy Valentine's Day from Rio!

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Posted by wintermaasz 16:12 Archived in Brazil Tagged santa teresa escadaria selaron mico urca Comments (4)

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