I still remember a conversation I had with our neighbour, Oscar, about kite surfing in Brazil. He mentioned a small place just North of Fortaleza and I made a little mental note of that. Months later, in Revelstoke, we’ve met Chris – a fantastic skier and, as it turned out, kite addict. Over quite a few discussions with a beer or two he made it clear to us, that if we wanted to kite surf, we would have to go to Jericoacoara. I think I will be eternally grateful to Chris for having sent us here.
A dream was about to come true. Rio de Janeiro. Beautiful city of Caipirinhas, Samba, Carneval, Copacabana, Maracana, Sugarloaf Mountain, also of favelas, crime, street kids. The elder Breadbaskets were truly looking forward to getting there. The last day in Quito was really just an extended wait. The overnight flight via Lima to São Paulo and then from there with the equivalent of Easy Jet to Rio was a drag – but eventually we had arrived.
Despite being a tad tired it felt great to be there. I was surprised, though, how cold 20-26° Celsius felt. We rented bikes and cycled from Copacabana to Ipanema beach – the road side thermometer showed 26° and we all felt cold, really cold. But exciting it was. We were incredibly lucky and had a great flat at Copacabana Beach (strictly speaking it was Leme beach, which is the more quiet, North Eastern, part of the beach) – found on Airbnb at pre-Olympic prices. Three bedrooms and a huge balcony overlooking the beach was a nice change to the family rooms we shared on Ecuador (family room seems to be a euphemism for “standard room with too many beds”) – it was fantastic.
Rio has got a lot going for it: first – it’s beautiful. Second – a lot of the inhabitants (they refer to themselves as Cariocas) are super nice: easy going, communicative, fun. Other inhabitants seem less nice; however, we didn’t come across any of those. We stayed away from visits to favelas – I guess the inhabitants of Munich’s Hasenbergl (whether it’s reputation these days is deserved or not is irrelevant; I could also use Berlin’s Wedding or Hamburg’s Rahlstedt) wouldn’t be too pleased about busloads of tourists coming out to have a look at them and I guess the guys in the favelas feel the same.
I had a few experiences in my life where getting to an attraction was a bit of a disappointment – it felt like making a tick in a box and not like something really exciting. Not so Rio: Copacabana, Ipanema, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain – all full successes. Rio is truly beautiful. Largely thanks to its superb geographical situation – the architects, certainly the ones that were responsible for the buildings along the beaches, did their best to neutralise the location advantage. They probably thought: why adding beauty to beauty – let’s have a crack at letting it appear boring.
Sugarloaf and the smaller Breadbaskets.
Sugarloaf – no Breadbaskets.
Unfortunately we will be missing the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio – I am sure it will be an unforgettable event for the athletes, certainly the beach volleyballers, who will fight for gold at the Copacabana.
So, Rio does it for me (and for the rest of the Breadbaskets – playing football and volleyball on the beaches certainly excited Max, Molly was happy to play in the sand and sipping Caipis at Ipanema was up Anna’s street).
Uh, and one more thing: it seems that the Brazilians hold no grudges:
And, finally, I am always surprised when I have to realise how conservative (is that an euphemism for backward?) my home area is – the majority of changing tables there are still in the ladies’ facilities – whereas, at least, this shopping mall in Rio offers these restrooms labelled “Family”: