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.