Rio de Janeiro: The Pão de Açúcar

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Rio de Janeiro is a picturesque city. And this is an understatement. I mean, you turn one way: “wow, mountains! Cool, a statue on top!” You turn the other way and there is the beach. And not just one beach, but long stretches of beaches separated by hills. And not just your usual boring city beaches either, but lovely sand, good waves, fun spots and cool beach bums.

Add a bit of blue sky and interesting light and ta-da! Click away my friend, every shot is a postcard.

This is probably why I have just spent an hour uploading the—ahem…—106 pictures I managed to take today. Note to self: must charge battery and massage index finger.

Yes, Rio de Janeiro is famous for its scenery. In a way, it reminds me of Sydney, where Darling Harbour looks just as good in reality as it does in picture. This is rare because many landmarks only look good in perfect conditions, with the perfect light, on a perfect day. Like most iconic pictures of the Eiffel Tower are taken during special events. Rio? It can pour (like it did the day before) it still looks good. Rio is like your annoying friend with the perfect figure and who complains she has a zit on her face. Get over it, girl, you still look hot.

Yep, Rio de Janeiro is a hot chick.

Since the weather was perfect (37°C, blue sky), we headed to the Pão de Açúcar, walking all the way from Botafogo and stopping at every gas station to buy drinks, more drinks, gosh it’s hot. It felt like my shorts were melting with my skin.

The cable car station was strangely quiet, we didn’t even have to queue for the bubble-shaped car. A short 600-meter ride later, we reached the  Morro da Urca, the first hill. Then we took the second cable car all the way to the Sugarloaf. This ride is very steep and the views are breathtaking.

“Why does it move?” Mark noted as the cabin swang under the weight of passengers.

“Because of… the wind?”

“Silly mommy. There is no wind!”

Right. Look, I’ll answer your question after we are done dangling from a cable, alright honey?

I took pictures, then Feng took pictures, then I gave my camera to Mark who took pictures. We looked at the chopper taking passengers for a pricey ride, we checked out the Havaianas store (yes, there is one up there!). Then we decided that we had enough and we went down.

Rio is all about panoramic views. From the distance, the scenery is amazing. Again, to keep with the analogy, Rio is the hot girl you spot in the bar. From where you stand, she is just perfect. But up close, she isn’t as good looking as she seems. The streets of Rio are chaotic and polluted, the sidewalks are cracked, the buildings are old. There are piles of garbage everywhere but in the richest neighborhood. Income disparity and social apartheid is obvious, even to outsiders like us. Rio feels safer than it was a few years ago, when we first visited yet you’d better be careful and most residents are obsessed with safety.

My first impression of Rio? The city preserves and exploits its sights and its natural beauty very well, but it faces many problems that are still unsolved.

Shadow of palm trees

Shadow of palm trees

Inside the Bondinho do Pão de Açúcar

Inside the Bondinho do Pão de Açúcar

The Morro da Urca

The Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

Up to the Morro da Urca

The Pão de Açúcar

The Pão de Açúcar

Rio from the Morro da Urca

Rio from the Morro da Urca

Pão de Açúcar from the Morro da Urca

Pão de Açúcar from the Morro da Urca

Pão de Açúcar from the Morro da Urca

Pão de Açúcar from the Morro da Urca

Rio from the Morro da Urca

Rio from the Morro da Urca

Thanks for the pic, Mark!

Thanks for the pic, Mark!

Up the the Pão de Açúcar

Up the the Pão de Açúcar

Up the the Pão de Açúcar

Up the the Pão de Açúcar

Morro da Urca from the Pão de Açúcar

Morro da Urca from the Pão de Açúcar

Rio from the Pão de Açúcar

Rio from the Pão de Açúcar

Copacabana from the Pão de Açúcar

Copacabana from the Pão de Açúcar

Copacabana from the Pão de Açúcar

Copacabana from the Pão de Açúcar

Blue sky, a few birds...

Blue sky, a few birds…

Botafogo from the Pão de Açúcar

Botafogo from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

Looking down from the Pão de Açúcar

At the top of the Pão de Açúcar

At the top of the Pão de Açúcar

At the top of the Pão de Açúcar

At the top of the Pão de Açúcar

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

8 Comments

  1. Such beautiful photos thank you so much for sharing!! Little Mark did a good job, I believe you have a little photography competition there going on haha!

    I’ve been really enjoying your travels, thanks for all the pics you’ve been posting as they made this dull European winter feel just a bit better for me 🙂 have fun and a safe trip back!

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