Thursday, 31 July 2008

What to do in Rio de Janeiro

The Christ ,Corcovado: The statue of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado

Well... this is actuallly THE beaten path but for sure it is well worth the visit.
It is almost impossible to conceive a trip to Rio de Janeiro without paying a visit to the statue of Christ The Redeemer.
Located at the top of Corcovado Hill, it is Brazil’s most known image throughout the world.
The Statue of Christ stands 30 meters high (100 feet), covered in a mosaic of soapstone.
And the best way to get there is by the Corcovado train ...
The Corcovado Railway was the first eletricfied Brazilian railroad. Inaugurated in October 9th, 1884, it’s even older than the monument of Christ. Besides, it was this same train that carried for a period of four years the parts of the statue to be mounted at the top of the hill.

Working Schedule
from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, departures at every half-hour.

Trip duration
around 20 minutes.

Ticket Price
R$ 30,00
(round trip, plus 50% discount bonnus on Naif Museum of Art ticket - the museum is few steps far from the train station )
children to 5 years old free and 5 up to 12 years old only R$ 15,00.

Credit Cards
American Express, Visa, Visa electron, Diners e Mastercard.

To reach the top of Corcovado Hill, the train crosses the largest urban forest of the planet, also the first one to be replanted.

The trip starts at Cosme Velho Station, a pretty old one which is now part of the Brazilian Historical Patrimony.

The Tijuca Forest is located at the heart of Rio de Janeiro and separates the South and North zones of the city.

In the eighteenth century the forest was devastated to give place to coffee plantations what ended up causing troubles to the city’s water distribution, forcing emperor Dom Pedro II to make a revolutionary decision in the year of 1881: the replanting of the area.

It took about 13 years of hard work to accomplish the task. The job was so well done that animals like monkeys, sloths, lizards, snakes, birds and butterflies returned to the forest.

Part of the funds generated by the entrance tickets are destined to Ibama, the Brazilian Institute for the Preservation of Nature.

Corcovado Mountain is 710 meters (2300 feet) high and Its viewing platform is at the base of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. The sight of Rio de Janeiro at your feet is really breathtaking.
This is probably the best place for you to see all the contrasts: mountains and sea, forests and beaches.
At this pic, you see Pão-de-Açucar and Guanabara Bay.

Sugar Loaf - Pão de Açucar: Pão de Açúcar - The Sugar Loaf

Along with samba, beaches, and beautiful women, the Sugarloaf remains one of the original and enduring Rio attractions. Standing on its peak, the entire cidade maravilhosa lays at your feet: the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the favelas of Babylonia, the Tijuca Forest, Christ the Redeemer on his mountain, the old downtown, the bridge, the Bay of Guanabara, and the fortresses at the edge of far-off Niterói. It's a truly beautiful sight.
The cable car leaves every half-hour from 8am to 10pm, more frequently if there are enough people waiting. The ascent takes two steps, the first from the ground station in Urca to the 720-foot (220m) Morro de Urca, the second up to the 1,300-foot (396m) Sugarloaf itself. Trams are timed so it's next to impossible to make both trips without spending transition time on the Morro, so better to relax and enjoy life. The Morro offers excellent views, as well as a cafe, snack bar, restaurant, souvenir stands, and children's play area.

The best time to go there is definitely in the late afternoon or before evening, than you can see a beautiful sunset over the bay and take the best pictures!

Av. Pasteur 520

Bus:"Linha 107 -CENTRAL - URCA - REGULAR

Daily from 8am to 22pm - the cable-car leaves every 30 minutes

Admission R$30 for adults, R$ 15 for children 6-12. Free for children under 6

Duration of the journey:
Praia Vermelha/Morro da Urca: 3 minutes
Morro da Urca/Pão de Açúcar: 3 minutes


Sugar Loaf - Pão de Açucar: Rio Helicopter Sightseeing

For a bird's eye view of the city I took the Helicopter Sightseeing from the Heliponto Morro da Urca 01 located at the first stop of the Sugar Loaf at the summit of Morro da Urca. The ride for 1 person is R$300 and R$150 for three passengers. Since I was alone and was very early when I came there I decided to wait for some one interested to take a flight with me. Not long after there is a couple who came to ask the information at the ticket booth so I approached and asked if they would like to share the ride with me. It's a 7 - minute flight. They agreed so we took the first flight of the day. It turned out great because the pilot decided to extend for 9 minutes instead of just 7. First we climbed to the same level with the statue of "Cristo Rendentor" (Christ the Redeemer) then we took the city bird's eye view, visiting the lagoon, beaches, marina and landed safely. I rather let you take a ride with us via my video clip and hope you will enjoy the flight.

View Rio's Helicopter Sightseeing Video and Flash Galery:

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana has been for many years, one of the reasons why people want to know Rio. The "Little Princess of the Sea" as it once was "depicted" on a song still keeps its charm - despite of not being considered the fanciest neighborhood in town anymore...

I may be a little suspect... I live in there... but I really love it. It's the most democratic and ecletic melting pot.. You will find there a little bit ( or a lot... ) of everything from glamour to decadence. From urban chaos to cozy little places where you may think you have been abducted to a small city, with parks and lots of green areas almost hidden but a delight to be discovered.

To better understand it, take your time, and use one or two days exploring all its possibilities. there's fun for everyone.

The name Copacabana has a Bolivian origin... Where there is the fort today, once was a chapel which housed a XVII century image of Our Virgin Lady of Copacabana, brought by the Portuguese from a small village around Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.
That chapel would later be demolished for the construction of The Copacabana Fort.

The Fort was built in 1914 to defend Guanabara Bay,and offers visitors many interesting attractions from the amazing panoramic views to the Army Historical Museum - and you will find there a nice spot to have a coffe and pastry, a branch of the "Confeitaria Colombo".

There is an entrance fee of $2 to visit the fort.

Next to Forte de Copacabana you will find the fishermen's corner, which has been there for over 100 years...
It is a charming spot and it is amazing to see those fishermen actually making a living right in the heart of one of Rio's most urban areas.

It is nice going there early in the morning - just before the sunrise - and seeing them bringing the fish. Fresh fish for sale there every morning...

This is another view from the Fort....
This small beach lies between the Fort and Arpoador Rocks ( seen in the back ) is a surf point and also where some bodysurf championships take place.

( here, a link for a bodysurf page - just in portuguese, sorry... )

Framed by the wavy black and white mosaics of Avenue Atlântica, there are in fact 2 separate beaches in here: Leme (one kilometer) and Copacabana, (just over three kilometers).
This beach houses Rio's famous New Year's celebration which attracts over 2 million people from all over the world - most dressed in white for good luck, following a local tradition and it is really beautiful. Beautiful for the people, all in white, celebrating joyfully; beautiful for the Yemanjá rites with flowers on the sand and sea; beautiful for the wonderful fireworks display. A must see and a must experience at least once in a lifetime, indeed!
During the summer international championships of beach soccer, volleyball and other sports are promoted in arenas along the beach.

Beach kiosks are open around the clock, offering refreshments and snacks.They are a good place to have a coconut water after jogging, riding your bike or rollerblading along the beach. Or - if you do not feel like working out - to just watch others doing it...

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach, in the summer, is the best 5 miles of beach in the world. If you want a really great perspective on Ipanema Beach, and the traditions surrounding Carioca beach culture, purchase the book "How to Be Carioca" available on Amazon, Bookstores, or buy it here at any bookstore in Rio. The beach is a large part of Rio's culture, and everything revolves around it. Ipanema is the true "Praia" culture. In the book, it says "a Carioca is someone who goes to the beach before, after, or instead of work", this is an accurate analogy. "Where do you go to the beach" is one of the first questions a Carioca will ask when meeting someone for the first time. Take care your first few days and use plenty of sunscreen, the ultra-violet rays here can easily ruin a vacation. Brazilian women will wear the famous "dental floss" bikinis, all ages, and sizes, so don't feel shy, go like a local. And the males, well what you may call speedos, or tourists tightes, are called "sungas" here, and they are the proper beach wear, again, all ages and sizes, if you wear anything other, you will be immediatly identified as a tourist. Cariocas do not take a beach towel to the beach. Women sit or lay on their tangas, men sit on their t-shirts or the sand. It is acceptable, for a small fee to rent beach chairs or umbrellas from the local barracas. Drink plenty of water, beers are cheap, but stay away from drinking caparinhas on the beach, the cacacha can be deadly in the sun to "rookies", and if you spill the lime juice on your skin, the hot sun can cause an ugly burn. The water is free from pollution, so feel free to join the zillon other people for a re-freshing dip. Watch and enyoy the ritual that Carioca women go through when they enter the water, it is almost always the same, truley amazing, learned from childhood, a flick of the hair, and adjusting of the bikini top, a quick dunk, another flip of the hair, adjust top and bottom, back to their tanga, and combing of the hair...always while standing up...even the 6 year olds!

Maracanã Soccer Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

The Maracanã Stadium was built in 1950 for the 4th World Cup. At first it was officially known as the Estadio Municipal, and later, in 1964, was renamed after Mario Filho, the founder of Jornal dos Sports, Rio de Janeiro's daily newspaper. However, to the locals, it was always referred to simply as the Maracanã, after the small river that flows by the stadium. This name given by the people started to supplant the official name and eventually the stadium became known to the world simply as Maracanã.

It is built in reinforced concrete as a giant oval of two tiers, divided by a smaller intermediate level of open boxes. Circling the rear section is a dramatic sweeping roof, which at the time of the stadium’s construction was the largest spanning cantilevered cover in the world, spanning nearly 30 meters. This made it the world’s biggest football stadium at the time, with an official world-record attendance of 199,854 for the 1950 World Cup Final, Brazil v. Uruguay.

Tours of the stadium are available but to see it at its best you should really go to a match – see my Sports tip to read about our experiences there.
• Directions: Nearest Metro Station is Maracanã but you’d be better taking a taxi if not with a group as the area can be a bit dodgy

Dont miss a soccer game in this stadium!
Try to watch a classic Flamengo x Fluminense, mostly known as FlaxFlu!!! You wont regreat! Its a life experience!
You can check the games schedules at this phone 21 2509-5937.

Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro's Botanical Garden was created on June 13, 1808 by Dom João VI - prince regent at that time - originally for the acclimatization of spices like nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon that were imported from the Western Indies.
Only in 1822 the Garden was open for public visitation.

Here you see the most well-known symbol of the park; The Royal Palms. These trees were originally reserved for the royal family only. All palms are originated from a single tree, the Palma Mater (that was tragically destroyed by a lightning recently).

The Botanical Gardens are open everyday from 8 am to 5 pm.
Entrance fee: R$ 4

The Garden has six ponds with their gorgeous species of “vitória régia”, lotus, papyrus and “ aguapé” Among them, Lago Frei Leandro (Friar Leandro’s Pond) seen here at the pic.

The gardens have several special areas featuring plants of specific Brazilian regions such as the Amazon.The greenhouses with bromeliads and orchids are very popular. There is also a sensorial garden, a Japanese garden, and many other special areas to visit.

• Address: Jardim Botanico St. 920 and 1008
• Directions: There are two entrances from Rua Jardim Botãnico (Jardim Botanico Street) at numbers 920 and 1008. The entrance at number 1008 gives access to a car park and to the Centro de Visitantes (Visitors Center)

The 340-acre Botanical Garden contains more than 6,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees, including 900 varieties of palms (some more than a century old) and more than 140 species of birds.

Also on the grounds are a library, a small café, and a gift shop that sells souvenirs with ecological themes (the shop is a product of the Earth Summit that was held in 1992.

Along its existence, the Gardens have been given the names of Real Horto, Real Jardim Botãnico, Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro and, in 1996 they have become the Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro Research Insitute). They have come under the protection of the Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (National Historical and Artistic Heritage) – IPHAN - for their historical, cultural, scientific importance and for the design of their landscape. They have also been recognized internationally as a Living Museum in the area of Botany and defined by UNESCO as one of the reserves of biosphere.

Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro

The Tijuca National Park is located right in the middle of the city. It covers and area of 33 square kilometers and it is the second smallet Brazilian National Park. It's vegetation was replanted after a decrete to take the land back from all the coffee and sugar cane plantations. A lot of the original fauna was already lost, but with great effort the Forest was replanted and it is now the place of an amazing flora and fauna diversity. It is easy to get to the park these days because it is divided in three parts by major roads. One part next to the ocean is Pedra da Gavea and Pedra Bonita that you can access through Canoas Road (Estrada das Canoas). Then you have the Three Rivers Forest (Floresta Tres Rios) that you can access through Grajau-Jacarepagua road. On the main part of the Forest you have the tallest peek: Pico da Tijuca with 1022 meters height. There are plenty of hiking trails but in the main area especially you should do it with a guide. There are thiefs hiding sometimes behind the trees just waiting for you to pass by... The trails take most of the day to be done, so start early in the morning and take food and lots of water with you!! There's no hotdog stands or soda machines up there!! So remember that! And take a hat and insect repelent. It will surely help you!
You can also ride up there the easy way in a jeep. Make a websearch for Floresta da Tijuca Tours. Of course the jeep does not get as far as the top of the rocks, and if you don't do it you miss a lot!! You can also ride a bike up there. Some trails are just perfect for mountain bicking. Just make sure you don't go alone and keep all together.
Take a look at the links bellow for more information about the trails.

• Address: Alto da Boa Vista - Parque Nacional da Tijuca
• Phone: (55-21) 2492-2253 / 2492-5407
• Directions: Entrances:Sumare (Sumare Road);Caixa D'agua dos Caboclos (R. Almirante Alexandrino);Macacos (Dona Castorina Road);Passo de Pedras(Vista Chinesa Road); Sapucaias (Redentor Road);Solidao (Acude da Solidao Road);Cascatinha (Cascatinha Road)
• Website:
• Other Contact:

No comments: