June 14, 2014 by kimberlyfenton
Rio de Janeiro is full of fascinating favelas to explore, colourful cathedrals to admire and a Haviana shop with around 500 designs to choose from… Here, I give you my account of the favourite tourist hotspots.
“Her name was Lola…” Copacabana beach. What I noticed on Copacabana beach was the fact that everybody in Rio, more specifically, everybody on the beaches ofRio are obsessed with their bodies and/or fitness! I’m not saying this is a bad thing, as ones eyes are only too happy to wander from one well-built, tanned body to another. They were honestly built to perfection, their abs were almost glistening in the sun- I wouldn’t be surprised if they had oiled up their bodies!
This leads me to the somewhat questionable beach wear that was on show for us. The banana hammocks, a particular favourite for the well carved males walking past, however some old men were perhaps in denial about their youth. Lining the beaches of Brazil there are loads of outdoor gyms planted at every entrance and they were filled with huge men wearing said attire and working out to their boom boxes. Completely different to anything I’ve ever seen!
The night market ran parallel to the beach, and it went on forever. It was amazing, this was the first time I could properly shop for souvenirs in Brazil, and most of the little market stalls were selling home made products which was pretty cool! Such a variety of goods were being sold, signs, scenic photography, jewellery, photo frames, clothes, ornaments of the famous sites in Rio and more!
Time to hang-glide over Rio! We took a minibus to a beautiful secluded beach where the hang-gliding office was, this was also where we landed. We met our pilots who were perfectly friendly and were living the life, flying multiple times a day and taking in the breathtaking views. We then had to fill out some forms, basically declaring we knew that our life was in danger, and were given “Aspiring Pilot” ID cards.
Our pilots then pointed towards the mountains overlooking the beach and showed us where we would be taking off from- incredible! Check out the picture. We then quickly jumped into the cars, which had deck chairs replacing normal seats! The drive took us up a winding road all the way to the top of the mountain, as we reached the run off point. Ridiculously high!!! Out of the car we were then shown the runway which just drops into the mountain, literally just wooden planks which look out all over Rio de Janiero- UNBELIEVABLE! My legs just turned to jelly, as I walked to the edge of it to look down, I genuinely feared for my life as my knees just buckled at the overwhelming views, and of course the height. I then got kitted up first and after brief instructions from my pilot we were ready to go. He spoke to me in broken English and so when I say brief, I really mean brief… just a tad worrying. As we stood at the top of the runway, with my hand on his shoulder ready to run, he told me “You just have to keep running, do not stop running else big shit will happen” … wow “big shit will happen” – I really couldn’t choose to back out at the last minute. Here we go!
I had never done anything like this, and the feeling I had after lifting off was indescribable, pure adrenaline.
Truly spectacular. The feeling was amazing, sprinting the short distance on the runway and then suddenly I was flying, unbelievable! Stretching out your arms and soaring through the air, over Rio de Janiero, of all places! The view was incredible! I could see everything, the beautiful beaches, Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado, the Jesus Christ Statue, the city centre, Palm trees etc it was amazing! We then flew directly above the sea which was one of the best feelings ever and then we sped up as we came into line with the beach ready for landing. To land you are supposed to stand upright, and he “released” my legs and at this point I dropped and he was yelling at me to stand upright, but my harness wasn’t secured in the right position on my crotch and so it really hurt and I just couldn’t stand up straight! Uh oh. We then spun round and sped into the beach and this flight was exhilarating… however, when we came to land, instead of a smooth standard landing, my legs got caught in his and I just fell flat on my face! Haha. Ah well, the experience was amazing, and I just wanted to do it all again straight away.
Corcovado– the drive up there reminded me of the drive we had just taken up to the hang gliding drop off point, and so I knew what heights to expect! Exciting! Wow, the views were beyond anything I’ve ever seen, just as good as the views from Hang Gliding, but I was able to fully appreciate Rio from all angles as the views were panoramic and you could see for miles as the weather was so clear. Incredible, absolutely incredible. It was pretty packed to be honest, and so it was hard to get a good picture with the statue, but it was still an amazing experience…
Lapa- a must for any music fan, in particular hip hop fans, more specifically, Snoop Dogg. We visited the famous steps in Lapa which were incredible. Each tile told a story, stories from all across the world including England and Ireland. England was depicted by things like the red double decker bus and The Beatles. The colours on display were so eye catching, and the art was so interesting and beautiful. The steps of Lapa were made famous by Snoop Dogg’s music video and many famous artists like U2 have also visited. Awesome steps, depicting the culture of not only Brazil, but the world.
Sugar Loaf. WOW. Sugar Loaf is made up of two different cable car routes taking people from mountain to mountain, and there are two stops in total. The views just kept getting better and better. Truly spectacular. We had timed it perfectly and we were at the peak of Sugar Load mountain in time to see the sunset behind the Jesus Christ statue which was just amazingly beautiful. After admiring the colours of the sunset, it was then time to admire the colours of the city below.