Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Sugar Loaf Mountain 3The tour of the city I had signed up to took me to see a number of wonderful places including a huge staircase covered in tiles and ceramics from all over the world. I found the Conwy Castle one pretty quickly.

Later in the day we went along to Sugar Loaf Mountain, which is another of Rio’s iconic sights.

To reach the summit, you take two cable cars. The first ascends to Morro da Urca and the second car goes to the summit of Pão de Açúcar.

It was getting towards the end of the day when we went up the mountain and it looked amazing in the late afternoon sun.

MoonrakerI can admit however to feeling a little short changed not to be having a James Bond esque battle with Jaws during the ascent.

In Moonraker, which was one of the first bond movies I had seen, Roger Moore and Richard Kiel have a dust up of the cable car which ends in ‘Jaws’ biting through the cables supporting the 65 man gondolas.

The fight doesn’t end well for the big man who crashes into the ground station, but he does end up meeting some tiny woman who is captivated by him.

It was movie gold. (Sam Mendes please take note. Skyfall was rubbish.)Sugar Loaf Mountain View 2

The sun was setting as we reached the summit, and the view from the top was simply stunning.

This shot of the coastline to the north was my favourite vista from the summit of Pão de Açúcar. 

Sugar Loaf Mountain Viewers 2The view of the sunset was also pretty spectacular but it was somewhat ruined by the hundreds of people who were all trying to get a picture of the sunset.

I was still battling the fact that I had only benefitted from two hours sleep on my flight from Panama and couldn’t be bothered to get involved in the scramble for a camera angle.

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Corcovado View 12The sea is practically flat so I have taken the opportunity to see the sights of the city whilst I wait for a swell to arrive.

Rio de Janeiro (which translates to The River of January) is so named because Guanabara Bay that you see here was mistaken for a river estuary when the location was discovered on 1st January 1502. Later Amerigo Vespucci demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as had been suggested by Columbus, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass. This super continent came to be termed “America” deriving its name from Vespucci’s first name. The rest is history!

Stairway to HeavenOne of the best views in the city is from Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park. At the top of the mountain stands the statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer.

It is over 30 metres tall, and it weighs 635 tonnes.

It is an iconic statue, but the herculean effort to build it at the top of the 700m high mountain in the 1920s felt a little diminished by the rather shabby looking escalators they have bodged on to the side of the mountain so lazy people can get to the top.

Is this a ‘Stairway to Heaven?’

Christ The Redeemer 4Once at the top the view is spectacular because it was a beauiful day. I took loads of pictures of all the sights including the Maracana stadium and Copacabana beach.

Whilst there I also had to get a picture of myelf with the big man, and seeing as he had got us started on The Village People disco classic I tried to drum up a couple of people to help me with the CA part of YMCA.

Alas that was not to be, so instead I got this one of the two of us exchanging fishing stories about the one that got away.

Having upset the entire Christian world I thought it was probably time to leave.

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14May
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Brazil

BrazilianFlagEyeI have been looking forward to seeing Brazil for many years and finally I am here.

If you exclude Alaska the country is bigger than mainland USA and I am only here for a few days (thanks to the useless customs people in Panama) so will only really be scratching the surface while I am here.

AmazonBrazil and the rest of South America are dominated by the Amazon, which is the lungs of the planet. It is vast and to give you an idea of the scale my flight over the Amazon from Panama City took over six hours, which is equivalent to flying from London to the Middle East.

Sadly my flight was overnight so I couldn’t even see it on the way to Rio de Janeiro. However I will get another chance when I fly across to the Pacific later on my trip.

Brazilian-Football-FanNo trip to Brazil can happen without football at least getting a mention, and if all the British football fans looked like this I would probably be more interested in watching the game.

Sadly I am not going to get to see a match here either because the season has just finished. (Again thank you very much Panamanian Customs!)

I have already seen the Maracana stadium here in the city though, which has recently been upgraded and I believe it will be opened officially with a match versus England in a few weeks time. My itinerary won’t allow me to stick around for that either though. Never mind! 

fifa_2014_world_cup_logoThe world cup arrives here next summer and the whole country is gearing up for that. Indeed the redevelopment of the massive Maracana stadium is partly in preparation for that.

I hope however that they sort out the airport before next year of they will have a PR disaster on their hands.

I was kept waiting in line at the airport for nearly two hours just to have my passport looked at and get my tourist visa. That I had barely slept on the overnight flight and was feeling as close as I ever have to being a zombie did little to improve my mood at this point, but I bit my tongue and got through in the end. 

Rio GamesAs a result of the World Cup, but also because Rio is also gearing up to host the next Olympics in 2016 I think Brazil is the place to be for the next decade.

I am interested to see how preparations are coming along here due to my own involvement in the ceremonies for the last games back in London. Whilst here I might try to get my name in the mix for the games in Rio because being part of the cast in 2012 was so much fun and I met so many great people.

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World_map_with_equatorI hadn’t realised it until after the fact but I have crossed the equator, and for the first time on this trip I am in the Southern Hemisphere.

I will be down here for the next four and a half months while you ‘northerners’ enjoy the rest of spring and all of your summer.

No snowAlthough it will be winter here I’m not expecting it to be too cold for most of my journey because a considerable part of the time will still be spent in the Tropic of Capricorn. At least I am hoping not!

However my boy scout training remains intact and I still have my winter wetsuit with me just in case.

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Flying_Down_to_RioWooo-hooo!

It is time for me to move on into another continent and for a few reasons I am flying down to Rio, where I hope to see 200 beauties! I am not sure my dancing is up to the standard of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but I may well have a go at a few Samba tunes whilst there.

The painful customs process in Panama City as cost me a lot of my exploring time in South America so I am only going to get the chance to spend a few days in Brazil before returning once more to the Pacific coast, where I will meet up with some old friends and do some surfing in Peru.

ASP RioAs luck would have it my visit is coinciding with the ASP tour event being in the city so I will get to catch up once more with all the pros who I last saw surfing the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Anybody would think I had planned it. Oh hang on I did!

Hopefully I will get to catch a few Atlantic waves whilst there, as well as conjuring up some mischief for myself to get involved in when out of the water too.

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