It is March 2019. On the southern hemisphere it is springtime , few days before the great and cheerful carnival starts in South America , especially in Rio de Janeiro. One of my dreams becomes true – yes – I am here, in South America.
A continent that I was looking forward to visit. I have been nearly in all continents , Europe I know nearly by heart , Asia we saw a lot of countries , parts of Africa we travelled , Australia was so nice – just South America was still missing . I was so curious as South America ‘ s character seemed to be quite different then the others . I was looking forward to see the gorgeous nature of South America , listen to the wonderful rhythms of the continents different folks and get to know the people , the culture and their history.
We are so lucky since there have been quite rainy days and storms before we landed but once we are there the sun is shining . It is 25-26 degrees , a marvelous weather that is accompanying us nearly throughout our whole trip.
I am so excited to be in RIO – having heard so much about its beauty but also being warned so many times about the criminality in the city to be more then careful .
We arrive in the evening in our hotel which is directly at the Copacabana Beach and I cant wait for the morning to see those marvelous sandy world famous beaches.
Rio de Janeiro is the second biggest city after Sao Paolo in Brazil and was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese Empire . The city is located at the western strip of Brasil’s Atlantic Coastline at the Guanabara Bay . The North and Northwest part of Rio is located on hills and rocky mountains while the South is fringed by its sandy beaches and the Brasil Highlands .
The citizens of Rio de Janeiro are so – called CARIOCAS – it means that anybody who settles down in the city and stays here for, lets say , half a year becomes a real citizen of Rio and part of its culture and soul . To be a carioca means to be liberal enough not to accept any differences in gender , religion or race . Anybody can be a brazilian and a carioca – there is no differentiation and this is why Rio probably is very unique at .
Unique is also the beauty of the people , their intense talent for rhythm and dance as well as their talents for sports .All this is partly a result of the cultural and historical events that took place over here in the past centuries – the population is a mix of white and black people of the best eg slaves from Africa were first brought to South America to Brazil . The strongest , the most athletic ones and most intelligent ones were chosen first as slaves before the rest of the black people were sent to North America for slavery . Later these people became part of the Brazilian population .
Rio is well – known for its natural beauty , its outstanding carnival festivals ,for its samba dance and samba schools , its beautiful beaches like Copacabana , Ipanema and Leblon , its world known landmarks of Christ the Redeemer Statue on the Corcovado Mountain and on the other side Sugarloaf Mountain with its cablecar , its huge Maracana Stadium and the Sambadrome.
Our first stop is the Sugarloaf Mountain – to get there we take the cable car. There is a statue of a soldier becoming an angel in front of the cable car station.
Oh my goodness – what a beauty !
We are really speechless and overwhelmed by the natural beautiful view from this mountain down to the bays around.
This is one of the locations that makes Rio one of the most beautiful cities in the World.
We are happy that we are the first visitors in the morning and it is not that crowded so that we really can enjoy the views which are one nicer then the other and the weather is luckily crystal clear.
The sugarloaf mountain was called sugarloaf as the first sailors which arrived here had a long trip from Europe behind and when they saw this mountain it looked like a sack of sugar to them – this is why they called it the “Sugarloaf “.
We watch Rio and the planes and helicopers landing close by at the airport and helicopter landing space which is right away in front of the terrace.
At the top we have some time to sit down, watch Rio and have some Açai banana split. It is so delicious!
Another stop on our trip in Rio are the stairs of Selaron, called the Escadaria Selaron.
Actually this part of the city is directly located at the favelas of the city . The favelas are the slum areas in the greater urban centers in Brasil -also well known for their criminal events .The first favelas were built in the 19th century in Rio by soldiers who returned from the Canudos War and had no place to live .The local citizens in the favelas are people who need to live according the rules and dynamics of the criminal world over here .For this reason we are extremely warned just to go up the stairs till a certain point and not to move further as it is extremely dangerous . The borderline to the favelas or also so-called shantytowns needs utmost attention while walking there.
The Escadaria Selaron are 125 meters of colorful steps tiled with beautiful 2000 tiles , mirrors and ceramics from allover the World created by Jorge Selaron, a Chilean painter and artist.
He was travelling in lots of countries before he finally settled down in Rio in the district of Lapa in 1983 where he started to decorate the steps close to his home with different types of colored tiles.
As colors he mainly used yellow , blue and green tiles as a tribute to Brazil that he was in love with .The stairs were an artistic tribute of him to the city of Rio de Janeiro. People from more then 60 countries sent him tiles to support him in his artistic work .
Among the tiles you can also observe paintings of a pregnant woman , the wife of Selarion who died unfortunately during her pregnancy .
The artist himself also died tragically close to the steps , 65 years old , at his artistic work that he spent more then 20 years of efforts to create a colorful , positive , nice surounding in this poor district of Lapa that became famous with the stairs of Selaron and is visited today by many tourists as an attraction of Rio and is converting into an artistic hub and district with also many street art on.
We walk through the streets and see the stairs of Selaron from far.
People are crowded here, being excited to have some photos on the stairs and admiring the artists work. It is a meeting point from people all over the World and for me also a symbol of peace.
It is an example how one single person can make such a big difference – he has an idea and with very simple tools he is changing the environment with positive mind that is appreciated and honored and which makes a positive draw to the World.
Another Must site in the city of Rio of Janeiro is of course the hill of Corcovado with the statue of Christ , the Redeemer . On that day unfortunately we don’t have luck .
In the morning when we go to the train station to go up the hill we are informed that one of the big trees in the tropical garden has fallen down onto the rails and that the train cannot be used . We decide to come back later but unfortunately even then the train still cannot work as the reparation is still under work.
We decide to go with the little shuttle buses. Certainly there are so many visitors around so that it really takes quite some time till we arrive . Then we have first no luck with the weather as it is totally foggy that you cannot see anything , not the statue and also not the surroundings.
There are few groups of dancers here on the hill who are dancing their sambas in their beautiful costumes as an entree to tomorrows Samba parade on the carnival of Rio.
We wait there and hope that the fog is opening up a little bit and at least showing us a little bit of this great site . Yes — after a while the fog is getting less and out of the Blue all of a sudden the colloss of statue , Christ the Redeemer , that is well known all over the world and that is the Icon of Rio de Janeiro appears on top of this natural beauty of Corcovados Mountain . In white color and surrounded by white clouds the statue itself is 30 m high and placed onto a square stone that is 8 metres high .
It overlooks the whole city of Rio and can be also seen from nearly everywhere – it is an impressive statue that was built in 1931 and also chosen as one of the 7 New Wonders of The World.
It is also worth to mention that Rio is together with Buenos Aires the Nr 1 greenest capital city in the world thanks to its rainforest in mid of the city ,the Tijuca National Park and its botanical gardens with gorgeous plants and also beautiful old mansions around.
All this together with the gorgeous , very beautiful natural beaches of Copacabana , Ipanema and Leblon made Rio a City of the Unesco World Heritage in 2009.
After all those great impressions of the city there is some time on the afternoon to finally go to the beaches.
First we take a drive around . We drive from Copacabana which is approx 4km long via Ipanema to Leblon beach .Praia de Barra actually is the longest beach in Rio with 18 km .
The sun is shining onto the golden fine sand beach banks . People are around in their nice swimsuits . Nice bars, restaurants and a very casual ,beautiful social life is around . The waves are really high and the current is very strong.
We end up at our own beach , the Copacabana , having some lunch with seafood , watching the breeze coming from the seaside.
The beach is quite wide. After our lunch we take our towels and just lie down there on the fine and warm beach sand. The sun is so pleasant – not too hot , quite right for some sunbathing .It is so nice to relax a little bit here – our bodies and souls are really cheering up.
Due to the high waves unfortunately it is not possible at all to swim over here , also the current is quite dangerous . We can just put our legs a bit into the sea and play with the salty water though we are good swimmers.
But even this is so relaxing – we chill around , listening to the music around , watching the people who try to sell anything from caipirinha , to bikinis ,to fried shrimps and calamari , toast , accessories and bags or anything you might need at the beach . It is very colorful but not crowded and we can really enjoy the surrounding before later we leave to the hotel to prepare ourselves for a nice evening and dinner.
I am so grateful to have had the chance to visit Rio and hope to come back one day to get to know more about this very special and beautiful city .
In 2012 parts of Rio were selected as Unesco World Heritage .