June 14 2014

Rio de Janeiro – a Photo Essay

In celebration of the FIFA World Cup, I revisited photos from my trip to Rio de Janeiro a few years ago. I haven’t been back since, so this is less a city guide and more a trip down memory lane.

Growing up in the United States, my idea of “football” is different from the rest of the world’s. For one, our football is oblong not round.

Although a sports fan, I had never attended a professional football fútbol game until my early 30s. Might as well “do it right” at that point, so my first game was in Rio.

Played in Maracanã Stadium – originally built to host the fourth World Cup in 1950 – the game itself ended in a rather unsatisfying tie. But the crowd’s vivacity was unlike any sporting event I’d ever attended – including those from my college days at a school with very enthusiastic sports fans.

Thanks to a friend’s generosity, I watched the game from a sky box. A driver picked me up at the hotel and drove not just to the stadium but to an interior parking area with a door leading directly into the box. Not the most authentic local experience, but I’ll take it. 🙂

View from a sky box at Maracanã Stadium:

Maracana inside

 

Before being rebuilt for the current World Cup, here’s how the stadium looked from Mount Corcovado through my zoom lens:

Maracana outside

 

Speaking of Corcovado, it is of course home to one of the New7Wonders of the World – Cristo Redentor (“Christ the Redeemer”):

Redentor afar

 

Now, two travel-related considerations with Cristo Redentor. One, it is often cloudy atop Corcovado. That can create interesting supernatural-looking shots, but at the same time cloudy isn’t the best photography weather.

Redentor supernatural

 

Two, the statue is over 12 stories high from base to top. So if you’d like a picture of yourself next to it, the camera needs to be aimed sharply upward – making your nostrils very prominent. (I’ll spare you the photo of mine.)

Almost as famous – and visually more stunning in my opinion – is Sugarloaf Mountain.

A granite monolith, Sugarloaf rises 1,300 feet straight out of the waters of Guanabara Bay:

Sugarloaf monolith

 

The most common ascent is by cable car – a ride that, even on the cloudiest of days, shows off Rio de Janeiro’s spectacular terrain. Look very closely – can you see Cristo Redentor atop Mount Corcovado in the top right corner of the photo below?

Sugarloaf cable car

 

Rio’s economic inequality receives significant press. Admittedly my visit occurred in much of a tourist bubble (more bubbly than usual in fact). But even then the situation was hard to miss.

From my hotel balcony, I glance one way and see this:

Balcony nice

 

And glance the other way to this:

Balcony favela

 

Unlike slums elsewhere, many of Rio’s favelas are directly adjacent to wealthy parts of town, built on hillsides with breathtaking vistas of the city and the ocean below:

Favela wide view

 

But since this is a travel website not a political one, I’ll leave economics to another forum and instead bid you a wonderful weekend with thoughts of a relaxing spa treatment:

Spa

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Posted June 14, 2014 by Admin in category "Destinations", "Photo Essays", "Trip Reports

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