A Little Site-seeing and Adventure in Beautiful Rio
The last few days I have had the opportunity to see Rio from some unusual, fun and exciting perspectives. It's hard to imagine a poor view anywhere in the incredible landscape this city occupies, but I have really enjoyed experiencing some of them in ways I think many people might not have the opportunity to try.
|Me at the top of the Sugarloaf with the Cable Car Mid-Point middle background and Corcovado way back.|
On Monday I rock climbed both the Pão de Açucar or SugarLoaf as well as the Corcovado on the top of which sits Cristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer. This 30 meter statue is one of the most famous and recognizable icons in the world today. It is a huge symbol of Rio and although something like 1,300 people and hour visit it via tram or bus, few I think get to climb the side of the cliffs guarding its summit and cross the tourist barrier from outside in. You get some pretty interesting looks from the other tourists coming over the big railing onto the viewing platform while wearing climbing gear and dragging a rope. Ditto for the Sugarloaf, although for some reason it didn't seem as dramatic. I'll come back to the climbing a little later.
Next day Tuesday, I went hang-gliding ( voo livre in Portuguese ) at Pedro Bonita ramp inside the Tijuca Forest National Park. The meeting point is just down the coast at São Conrado and for some reason I couldn't get any taxi to take me there even after asking a half dozen. I had 3 guys at the front desk trying to help too, but my Portuguese is very limited as was their English. So I called the amazing Glauco who runs Megafly ( http://megafly.com.br ) and explained the situation. He set me up with a ride two other tourists were taking out there later from a Hostel called Walk on the Beach. One of the guys from the front desk walked me several blocks to ensure I found it okay and when I got there, the gal running the place gave me free coffee and a nice place to sit. I have to say that I have found this sort of friendly generosity and kindness all over the place in Rio. The people here are just wonderful. So long story short, we three get there and ride up the mountain with Glauco.
|Okay I know he is holding the bar and wearing the Instrutor t-shirt, but really I am at the controls... haha.|
|Above the beach at São Conrado|
When my time came, I didn't fly with Glauco, but Klaus, one of his other instructors. Klaus is very experienced and a great guy, but stands about 6'7'' (taking a guess) so he just towered over me. Take off is the riskiest part and in order to get airborne, you both have to do this sort of three-legged run down the ramp and off the cliff into space. You can imagine the two of us - Mutt and Jeff running along keeping synchronized with short and long legs like that. Pretty funny, but we did it right with only one practice run and the actual take-off went perfectly. Such an amazing feeling flying like that!!! I couldn't wipe the grin off my face all during the flight and for a long time afterwards. I mean the views when you are rock climbing are spectacular, but one side always has the rock or at least you hope so haha. But flying like this there are no walls and nothing to get in the way. Wonderful sensation!!
The flight only lasts about 15-20 minutes and it goes by like an eye blink. At the bottom, we all get fresh coconut water with a straw poked into the freshly trepanned coconut husk. Chilled and soooooo delicious. I had a little time so also got an Açai (pronounced Ahh-Sah-Eee as near as I can get it) Smoothie which my climbing Guide Andrew introduced me to on Monday during a snack between the 2 climbs. I am Hooked on these things!!! Thick and rich and eaten with a spoon. Roughly the color of reddish coffee and apparently pretty good for you, although anything that yummy must have about 45 million calories per spoonful.
|Morning clouds rolling over the Pão de Açucar or Sugarloaf|
|Looking down from the Sugarloaf. You can see the Cable Car cables at the bottom of the picture|
|One of the few big ledges on the route where I could bust out the iPhone camera for pics|
|Looking down at the Cable Car Mid-Station|
|Looking up at the Corcovado from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. Cristo Redentor at the top.|
|Looking down from the Corcovado route at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas|
OMG - if I thought the top of the Sugarloaf was busy and crowded, it's nothing.. nothing!.. compared to this small area! It's just a teeming ant farm of tourists up there. I suppose bringing 1,300 people an hour up there will do that though. It's later in afternoon the sun is right above the left shoulder of the Cristo Redentor's left shoulder (or right as you look at it.) It's beautiful and magnificent. At 30 meters tall with an 8 meter base, it is imposing and visible I think from most of Rio. One of the most famous icons on the planet so not surprising it would be busy up there though. It was nice to take a tour bus down though. If I had ever thought about taking a helicopter ride at sunset for pictures, this would be the place and the subject matter. Wow.
It was a really fabulous day and I ended it tired, still and sore. My toes especially were giving me problems all day. ***Note to Self - do not do a climbing day this again then jump into an intense yoga practice the next day in a really really hot place like Rio. My friends Ananda and Charles have this beautiful yoga studio in Ipanema, the city next to Copacabana where I am staying and although they are currently traveling in India, they graciously arranged to let me sit in on a 2 hour practice next day. Their teachers were not only extremely good and talented, but also kind, generous and welcoming. Small group of advanced students who were also very nice and helpful. I am so grateful to Ananda and Charles for this opportunity. I wish I wasn't so tired from the previous day though it couldn't really be helped. I have never sweated so much in my whole life and struggled through some of the asanas, but at the end felt marvelous.