Mr Bell’s 48 Hours In Rio De Janeiro 2


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Day One

With a beautiful setting on the coastline of Brazil and almost perfect weather Rio has been somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I got my chance to go a few weeks ago and it was definitely worth the wait. With a jam packed schedule and only 48 hours to see everything it was going to be a challenge but a challenge that I really enjoyed!

Copacabana Beach from the air

Copacabana Beach from the air

For the first day I’d organised a tour with a company called Xplora Tours. Breno, the owner and also our driver/guide met us at the hotel from where we set off to our first destination. Within a short time we’d entered the Tijuca National Park, one of the biggest urban parks in the world. Heading up its narrow winding roads we arrived at the area from where the hang gliders take off, the views were stunning.

The Two Brothers

The Two Brothers

The take off point for hang gliding

The take off point for hang gliding

The mountains that surround the area are part of the C Section of the Tijuca National Forest and are called Pedra da Gavea, Pedra Bonita, Cochrane and the two brother peaks. Fortunately for us due to the weather conditions the hang gliding had been temporarily suspended so we were able to go out onto the take off area to get some amazing views of the coast.

Taking off

Taking off

Hang gliding from the Tijuca National Park

Hang gliding from the Tijuca National Park

Having spent some time taking photo’s we were told the hang gliding was going to resume, watching them take that leap of faith and jump off into the air was quite something, it must be a weird feeling as you leave the ground with basically nothing but a kite holding you up. I wish I’d been brave enough to try it.

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

The next stop on the tour was one of the highlights for me and something I really wanted to see. Corcovado and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer is probably one of Rio’s most iconic and famous landmarks, standing at 30 meters tall not including the 8 meter pedestal the statue is impressively huge.

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

Climbing the steps up to the viewing areas is an experience in itself giving some beautiful views over the city and Rio’s famous beaches. Yes it’s crowded but to be honest I thought it was worth it, it really is quite spectacular and you can understand why it’s listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Looking out over Rio from Corcovado

Looking out over Rio from Corcovado

Views from Corcovado

Views from Corcovado

The statue itself is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone and was created in the Art Deco style by French sculptor Paul Landowski, it took nine years to complete and was opened in October 1931.

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

After spending an hour or so admiring the views and the statue itself we headed back down to our waiting guide and the car. Before leaving the national park we drove up to what our guide called a “secret” viewing point, it’s apparently where all the postcard shots of Rio are taken from.

View of Rio de Janeiro

View of Rio de Janeiro

I’m not so sure it’s such a big secret but I will tell you that the views overlooking the city are incredible, the beaches, Sugar Loaf Mountain, even great views of Corcovado, just beautiful.

View of Corcovado

View of Corcovado

Driving out of the national park Breno told us he was going to show us the old colonial part of Rio. It’s a lovely part of the city with many of the buildings reflecting its Portuguese colonial past.

Colonial buildings in Rio

Colonial buildings in Rio

Colonial buildings in Rio

Colonial buildings in Rio

It was nice to see a more local side of the city, somewhere the tourists don’t often go with its old tram lines, street stalls and lots of graffiti. As we drove around Breno pointed out various buildings and houses that he thought might be of interest and told us interesting facts about the area and the people who live in it.

A street trader in Rio

A street trader in Rio

The old part of Rio

The old part of Rio

This little tour of old Rio took us to our next stop, the Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selaron). The work of Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron the steps are now a major Rio tourist attraction. There are 215 steps covered in 2000 tiles collected from over 60 different countries with some 300 being hand painted by Selaron himself.

The Selaron Steps Rio

The Selaron Steps Rio

The Selaron Steps Rio

The Selaron Steps Rio

The steps are great to see but it doesn’t take long to walk up and down through the crowds and take a few photo’s. Luckily for us Breno had organised a quick pit stop for lunch at a local cafe nearby where we had some delicious snacks and a lovely ice cold local beer. No hanging around though as it wasn’t long before we were off again and on to our next stop.

Copacabana Bech

Copacabana Bech

It was around three o’clock in the afternoon as we drove along the coast road through some of the world’s most famous beach resorts. Leblon first, then Ipanema and then the most famous one of all Copacabana. The beautiful people were out in force parading up and down the seafront in the skimpiest swimwear you’ve ever seen, this was exactly how I imagined Rio to be.

Copacabana

Copacabana

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach

The long stretch of beach that is Copacabana was packed with people enjoying the warm weather, the water glistened in the sunshine and with the backdrop of the mountains and the beautiful scenery it felt just perfect I only wish I’d had more time to enjoy it.

Copacabana

Copacabana

Back in the car and we were off to our final destination for the day, a local favela. As we drove up the winding road Breno told us tales of how the favela’s are controlled, usually by the local drug gangs, how they tap into the power networks to steal electricity and how they use every piece of available space for either accommodation or to create a business.

Inside the Favela

Inside the Favela

We stopped at a couple of roadside stalls where they sell their own artwork, some of which was actually really good and very cheap to buy, it’s obviously touristy but I thought it was good that these people had been taken away from gangs to do something more worthwhile and hopefully build themselves a better life.

Some of the Favela artists work

Some of the Favela artists work

There was another great view from the favela and Breno joked that although the people here were probably the poorest in the city, they also had some of the best views.

The view from the Favela

The view from the Favela

Driving around the favela

Driving around the favela

Leaving the favela we set off on the drive back to the hotel where we made it back just in time for a beach side caipirinha, the perfect way to end a wonderful day out.

Day Two

After a relaxing breakfast at the hotel it was decided that the last day had to be something special. With everything booked we jumped in a taxi and headed off to a nearby airfield, we were off on a helicopter ride along the Rio coastline. I was nervous but at the same time excited as I’d never been in a helicopter before. At the airfield we were given a short safety briefing before we headed out to board.

Our sightseeing helicopter

Our sightseeing helicopter

Once we were all strapped in and given clearance from the tower the helicopter lifted and our half an hour flight was underway. It was a strange sensation at first but one that I quickly got comfortable with as we soared above Rio.

Flying over Rio

Flying over Rio

Rio's beaches from the air

Rio’s beaches from the air

We flew right down the coastline over all the famous beaches including Ipanema and Copacabana, the views were spectacular!

Flying over Rio

Flying over Rio

The Rio coastline

The Rio coastline

Sugar Loaf Mountain came into view and we could see the cable car heading up to the summit and the viewing platforms at its peak.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Flying down Rio's coast

Flying down Rio’s coast

We then flew over to the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado which kept disappearing between the clouds that were around, it was an incredible sight.

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

All too soon we were heading back down the coast, the half an hour had literally flown by and we had seen Rio from a completely different point of view. As we touched down back at the airfield I only wished we’d been up there longer, I’d really enjoyed it! If you’re ever in Rio don’t miss the opportunity to do this it truly was amazing.

Flying over Rio

Flying over Rio

Back at the hotel and after a quick freshen up we jumped into another taxi this time heading off to Sugar Loaf Mountain to do the cable car ride to the top. It was a good 40 minutes journey from the hotel but I enjoyed the drive along the coast. We arrived at the ticket office to find that it was surprisingly quiet and it wasn’t long before we were boarding the cable car to the first station.

Cable car to Urca Mountain

Cable car to Urca Mountain

At the first peak, Urca Mountain, there are some great views of the city and the Redeemer and there’s even a helicopter landing pad.

The helipad and views on Urca Mountain

The helipad and views on Urca Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

At this level they’ve also got a couple of the old cable cars on display that used to operate up and down the mountain including one of the open air style ones. The ride up is scary enough being enclosed in glass so I’m not sure I’d have liked it being all open.

One of the old open cable cars

One of the old open cable cars

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain

After having a wander around we boarded the next cable car for the ride up to the summit, this was the best part, the views, once again, were just amazing. It’s a beautiful part of the world here in Rio.

The view from Sugar Loaf

The view from Sugar Loaf

Christ The Redeemer in the clouds

Christ The Redeemer in the clouds

At the peak there’s a little bit of refurbishment going on but that didn’t detract from the spectacular views. There’s plenty of facilities up here including a couple places to eat and drink and a gift shop, but be warned the gifts up here are sold at a premium and I found them cheaper at the airport.

The view from Sugar Loaf

The view from Sugar Loaf

There are several different areas to walk around and a trail to follow through the lush vegetation, you might even spot some marmoset monkeys up there.

The lush trails on Sugar Loaf Mountain

The lush trails on Sugar Loaf Mountain

Having spent several hours admiring the jaw dropping views we decided to make our way back down and take a taxi back to the hotel. Believe it or not that was another full day spent sightseeing.

The view back to Urca Mountain

The view back to Urca Mountain

Heading back to the ground

Heading back to the ground

We arrived back at the hotel with just enough time to watch the sun going down over the beach, what a way to end two amazing days in Rio de Janeiro. Goodbye for now but I promise I will be back sometime soon!

Beach sunset Rio

Beach sunset Rio

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