Rio de Janeiro – feel it, live it, love it!
Despite all the warnings we’ve got from different people (including Brazilians), internet, TV programs that Rio is full of thefts, violence, attacks and so on, nothing at all has happened to us and we didn’t felt in any danger during our 5 day stay. Instead, we found a city full of contrasts, color, passion, music, fun…full of life, never tired, but always in movement and with a history still present on the downtown’s streets.
Founded in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese as a fortification against the French, Rio was quite unimportant until gold and diamonds were found in the nearby area and the city became the port for these minerals. But Rio became a strategic city when Napoleon invaded Portugal and the Portuguese Royal Family moved to Brazil making Rio the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil. It became independent around 1820. And all these periods had a big impact on the way Rio’s look and feel evolved over time. From a virgin, savage lagoon surrounded by big forests and having the Sugar Loaf hill in the background to a city full of big (but mostly ugly) skyscrapers, white sand beaches full of caipirinhas, modern neighborhoods with beautiful street art and… contrasting and dense favelas. Looking at pictures from the different periods (exposed in one downtown’s passage), we acknowledged one more time the impact we humans had and continue to have on the surrounding nature.
Nowadays Rio is all about contrasts! The intense green of the forests around the city and of the small islands seen from Corcovado hill, the dark blue of the ocean with its strong waves seen from the white sandy beaches, the rainbow of colors of favelas from all around the city, the inspiring colors of Kobra’s “Etnias” graffiti representing the whole world…they are all a source of immense joy.
But then you start noticing the different faces of Rio: the old grey concrete buildings contrasting the big yachts in the marina; the central part of the city with all the theaters, museums inspired by the Parisian architecture that were built in the beginning of the 20th century; the mythical Maracana (the temple of football) and the new Museum of Tomorrow designed by Calatrava that opened before the Olympics; the Eastern waterfront with big residential towers for the upper class; the crowded, chaotic, dirty and intense favelas with lots of helicopters flying above them; the ever present warnings for tourists to keep their belongings at home or in their pockets and watch out for guys with hoodies riding bicycles, while on Copacabana or Ipanema beaches a lot of boys and girls with sculpted bodies play football or run.
But if you add the nice sunny weather, some “brigadeiros” (typical dessert made of chocolate and condensed milk), late nights with caipirinhas and people dancing samba in the streets and pubs, you just cannot escape loving it!
You have all the ingredients needed for a happy escapade!