is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
Since I am not what you would call a beach sitter, I was somewhat
skeptical when we decided to visit this lovely city. It turns out
that Rio is so much more than just a nice sandy beach. Once the
capital of Brazil, the city is exceptionally urban, but set in some
of the most stunning coast line imaginable. It has it's problems
to be sure: crime, overcrowding and poverty are major issues facing
the city. We however, never felt unsafe and most of the people we
met were very friendly. One should definitely take all the precautions
you would normally take when visiting a large foreign city, but
it's not especially difficult. And yes, the water is perfectly safe
to drink, but the coffee is some of the best I have ever had ....
of Rio...Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Ipanema,
(Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese) was my favorite
spot in Rio. It was a short - ten minute taxi ride from the hotel.
You can hike or take a cable car to the top. For the sake of time,
we opted for the cable car. The views are extremely dependent on
the weather (it rains in Rio). We were fortunate to be in Rio shortly
after a solid week of rain and managed to see some amazing views
of the city. There are a couple of shops and a little snack shop
where I had a caipirinha (the national drink of Brazil). Beautiful
scenery and beautiful weather. It was a good day.
is what most people think of when they think of Rio. After that,
Corcovado would have to be the next. This 2300 ft granite peak is
visible from almost every where in Rio. Famous for the 130' tall
statue of Cristo Redentor, the views from Corcovado (Portuguese
for hunchback) are phenomenal. The statue was designed by a local
engineer named Heitor da Silva Costa. It was famous French monument
sculptor, Paul Landowski who actually built it. Construction took
nine years and was completed in 1931.
there was not as easy as Sugarloaf. A narrow winding road takes
you to the base of the peak. Beyond that, no private vehicles are
allowed. Even with Brazil's low cab fares, a taxi would have been
cost prohibitive. There is a railway, but the lines can apparently
take hours during peak season. We took a tour for this attraction
and while it took us about two hours to get there and back, it was
still well worth it. We had picture perfect weather once again.
The only downside is that we only got 45 minutes to enjoy it.
took many of these images. Mine all seemed to have a blue cast.
Still haven't mastered the slide film.
Falls, or Cataratas do Iguaçu
is truly one of nature's wonders. They are twice as high and nearly
three times as wide as Niagara. Only Africa's Victoria Falls really
approaches the scale of Iguaçu. The falls sit on the border
of three countries, Brazil, Argentine and Paraguay. While the falls
can be accessed from Paraguay, only Brazil and Argentina have parks.
We flew into Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side and took
a taxi ride to our hotel on the Argentina side. This in itself was
quite the adventure. Argentina and Brazil have uneasy relations
at times and travel between them can be a hassle. Apparently our
cab had a small oil leak and they would not let it across the border
so our driver (who had our passports in his hands) disappeared to
find us another vehicle. It took about an hour before we were finally
able to get on our way. It was always quite the ordeal to go back
and forth between Brazil and Argentina. You spend about half an
hour at the border every time you cross. The taxi drivers know exactly
what they are doing and what paperwork you need and still takes
forever. They have to take your passports from you and take them
into the border crossing, so you are left with out your passport
for a time. Don't like that feeling at all.
Brazil and Argentina sides are decidedly different. The Brazil side
lets you get up close and personal with the base of the falls and
also give you a more panoramic view of the entire falls. Argentina
has a more extensive park and trail system with a catwalk that takes
you along the top of the falls. You WILL get wet. If you are visiting
from Brazil, you already have the Brazilian visa. Do yourself a
favor and see both sides to get the complete experience. Check the
Argentina section to see info on that side of the falls.