Rio, The city of Atlantic ecstasy…….
On first anniversary of my visit to Rio
“You desire something intensely in your life and you are going to get it”- this is what called law of attraction. Strange but true, at least that’s what I have experienced many times in my life. My recent visit to Rio de Janeiro is the latest testimony of the law. In my college days, since I had watched movie ‘Blame it on Rio’, I had passionate aspiration to be there. Even after two decades and visiting eighteen countries my desire did not fade slightest. Law came true once again when I was invited to be a part of Indian delegation to Indo-Brazilian meet and excitement went on lyrics Brazil la la la la la la …..
First step on Brazilian land was ‘turn off’- 24 hours of journey, extremely chaotic Sao Paulo airport, Portuguese speaking people and a run to catch Rio flight- exhausting in true sense. At 12.30 AM my colleague woke me up “We have landed in Rio”. Airport and etiquette was way different then Sao Paulo. I’m sure this line will not be liked by people of Sao Paulo as there is a cold war between people of Sao Paulo and Rio, that’s what I could make out during my visit to both places. “People in Rio does not work, they just keep themselves in fun and leisure” Sao Paulo people says. “Life is much harder here and they feel that they are the only one who works in Brazil, uh” replies Rio people!
“Rio is about beer, soccer and women” our tour guide Marcello started with interesting remarks, probably with hope to do away with dozy look from our face. Realizing he is failed in his effort, he kept almost tight-lipped until he checked us in Pestana Rio Atlantica, right on Copacabana beach. Now we were on one of the exotic locations on earth, morning walk on the beach will be lifetime experience, with this thought in mind I went off the sleep. (Photograph of Copacabana beach is taken from balcony of my hotel room).
Morning 6.30 a.m., I was walking on the beach track while watching sun rise over the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach, projected as the Brazilian icon since long, is circled by a string of hills that stretch out into the bay. Beach has almost 8 km track which was full of walkers, joggers and dazzled visitors like me. Cyclists were on their separate track and hiring their bikes from beach itself. Cleanliness of beach was attention-grabbing and unbelievable too. Every 100 meters, there were poles for soccer, volley ball, etc and none of them were unoccupied! Every 2 km, there was a cabin of costal guards monitoring people’s safety. I ended my walk with imprinted memory of deep blue Atlantic, refreshing salty breeze and mystic feel of Copacabana. My mind has concluded the fact, Rio is not about beer, soccer and women but it’s also about exercise and fun.
Rio is the unique city in the world and its uniqueness is supported by the fact that it is the happening city with ocean, mountains and rain forests together. Apart from Copacabana beach, Rio has many other beaches like Ipanema (spotless blue Atlantic and wide stretches of white sand on which you’ll find people wearing all variety of styles, from nearly nothing to conservative clothes.), Leblon (family beach with bordering hills), Sao Conrado (preferred spot for surfers, hand gliders and Paragliding trainers), Beaches of Niteroi etc. Bigger waves and cleaner waters were emblematic for all beaches. All beaches in Rio are public beaches; there is no private beach in the city. Water sports are prohibited on Rio beaches to prevent accidents and for the safety of people. City tour of Rio beaches ended with conclusion in my mind that in Rio good body is not a luxury but it is a necessity to enjoy the ecstasy of an Atlantic!
Morning walk on Copacabana and coconut water was in next to no time established routine, what an exotic way to start your day! Today was a day of visit to mountains of Rio. The Corcovado Mountain (710 meters to the top) was first on the list. To reach the top of the mountain one need to take a modern Swiss-made cogwheel rail which takes about 17 minutes. As it climbs through Tijuca Rain Forest to the top of the mountain you see inaccessible looking Brazilian huts in deep green background and adventurous people climbing to the top along the rail tracks. Dense rain forest was as dusky as ever. Finally, on the top you are at the feet of towering statue of Christ the Redeemer carved in mosaic. 38 meters above you, he is standing with opened arms to embrace viewers far far away as he oversees the city of Rio. I had to struggle a bit to look at his face in clarity as clouds were running across very fast drizzling us. You can also have spectacular views of the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, the Lagoon, Sugarloaf Mountain, Maracana stadium and the picturesque overall beauty of Rio.
After experiencing cogwheel rail, now I was in the huge cabin carrying almost 70 people on the rope way, way to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. It is a two stage rope way. Being in the heart of Rio de Janeiro the entire 360-degree panoramic view of Rio is at your disposal. Cappuccino coffee is must here as clouds and breeze chilling you outside you pamper your throat with warmth inside. At the top of both the mountain what I could realize was eternal beauty and god’s blessings in its own way to the city of Rio.
Apart from sea, mountain and forests there are lot many monumental places are tourist’s attraction in Rio. Maracana soccer stadium (once the world’s largest soccer stadium), the modern Metropolitan Cathedral (shaped like an Aztec temple which accommodates 20,000 standing people), Mahatma Gandhi square (can you believe this?! Yes, this is a place in downtown Rio. Statue of Mahatma Gandhi is much better than ours! Walking for a peace…) etc are some of them.
Finally let me tell you about another Rio, within Rio city; the favela (term for a shanty town in Brazil.). They are areas of irregular and poor-quality housing, often crowded onto hillsides. There are close to 750 favelas in Rio. They are now home to 20% of Rio’s population. However, it reminds you of slums of Dharavi, favela is fundamentally different from a slum, primarily in terms of its origin and location.
Five days in Rio passed like a wink. While writing this my mind is still wandering in blue sparkling water of an Atlantic and ecstatic morning walks on Copacabana beach. Truly a life-time experience of an Atlantic ecstasy, Rio de Janeiro, worth visiting again………