Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rio de Janeiro

First Days in Fab Rio de Janeiro...

Today is my birthday and I am spending it in the most marvelous city - Rio de Janeiro!! The only thing that would make it better is having family and friends here to share and celebrate with. Otherwise it's a pretty perfect place to be right now.
When I left Aqaba earlier this past week, I walked across the border from Jordan to Israel and then made my way to Tel Aviv. I was there for about a day and a half, so moved very fast to make my explorations before hopping on a plane to Rio with a change in Paris. Overnight and another pretty long day haha. I'm used to them by now though. I arrived in Rio very early Thursday January 16th, but couldn't check into the apartment I had rented for a week. The Manager Antonio met me first though and kindly offered to give me his office to clean up and sleep if I wanted. In the short time I have been here, I have found the people in Rio to be warm, generous and friendly. I Love this City!!!

I'm starting to think as a native North-westerner, I am dragging the rain along with me somehow and Rio was no exception. The day was gorgeous, hot and sunny, but by evening we were in the middle of a whopper Thunderstorm and pounding rain. I must be weird because I was totally loving it except at first the lightning was striking all over the same few blocks I was in so too close for taking pictures. Exciting though. Once it moved offshore a little, I followed it to the beach and stood in the rain taking pictures hoping to get something good with my iPhone. A DSLR and tripod would have been better, but because it was striking every few seconds, I did get a lucky few shots of the actual lightning bolts. It was awesome and apparently made the news back home even.


Anyway, I only took time to change and then set about getting a local SIM Card, for my phone, exchanging money and exploring. The apartment is only 2 blocks from the famed Copacabana Beach and it is beautiful. Lots of people since it's summer break here and nice waves for body surfing even though I didn't jump in that day.
Copacabana Beach with the SugarLoaf in the Background. Climbing that tomorrow as well.
Ipanema Beach
 Yesterday I took a very long walk and saw some incredibly amazing and beautiful things including Ipanema, Leblon and the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas among other things. It says Lagoon, but it's the size of a small lake. There were only 2 boats out on it towing wake boarders and the conditions were perfect. I was jealous I wasn't there too. One of them was very good and fun to watch. Solid on wake flip after wake flip. Anyway, I am booked to rock climb the Sugarloaf and the Corcovado tomorrow and hang glide Tuesday so I think I'm doing okay. The Corcovado by the way, is that big escarpment behind the Lagao with the famous 30 meter tall statue of Christo Redentor on top. You can see it in some the pictures. It's maybe the most famous landmark in Rio and I am excited to be getting to it via the steep side. Not many tourists on that approach I'm guessing. I am also booked to go hang gliding Tuesday and really looking forward to seeing the city from this unique perspective too.
Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas
Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas - wake boarding fun in the foreground and the Corcovado with Christo Redentor on top.
Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas
The other really cool thing I ran into purely by chance at the Lagao was a huge live music event ahead of Carnivale with tons of people and incredible music. I sat and listened and watched for a long time - just soaking it all in. Such a great outdoor culture here and so much energy. Have I said it before - LOVE this place!!

The sunset around the Lagao area was fabulous and it's hard to imagine it wasn't equally as incredible from just about any vantage point in the city. I've never seen a landscape and geography like this city is built on.  Gotta run for now, but will post more stuff after I get back from climbing and hang gliding. I have some posts I still need to do on Aqaba (like scuba diving in the Red Sea in Winter), Israel and other topics (as opposed to just places). Toodles for now....