View from Corcovado
As a runner I measure cities for their runability. Running in Rio de Janeiro is a treat!
From the moment I flew into Rio I was excited. What a beautiful city, with its weird rock formations, blue seas, and clear sky.
The domestic airport would have to be one of the most beautiful airport locations I have seen. Views across the bay. Water and sky. The bus trip to Copacabana Beach only helped to add to my excitement.
Given that I had spent nearly a week in Brazil, at
the State of the World Forum
in Belo Horizonte I had the great fortune of meeting a few Rio de Janeiro locals.
To read about my amazing experience in the City of God favela (slum) click here.
Alexandra, sustainable architect, fluent in English, world traveled, took me that first night to the fabulous samba club, Rio Scenarium in Lapa. I met Alexandra at 10 pm...way off my normal sleep cycle of bed at 8-8.30..at her home in Urca, a small village at the foot of Sugarloaf mountain, right in central Rio, but separated from the hum and buzz by one road in and out. Her home was the first sustainable home on Rio de Janeiro. It has grass on its roof, and a view across the bay to Christ the Redemer...stunning.
Rio Scenarium is a huge samba club, three levels, built around the ground level dance floor and stage. I loved that all ages were on the dance floor, from 18 to 70 plus. And that most of the people were locals. Cariocas as they are known. The band had at least 10 people, with the drums and percussion, the singer, the conductor. The songs they played are the well known songs of Rio de Janeiro and included a full set of samba bateria--where the drums, percussion, whistle’s were in full glory. Oh the beat, the drums, the rhythm, the heat! It was everything I hoped Rio de Janeiro would be and more.
It was also 1.30 am by the time I got back to my hotel. Sleep..well we can do that when I get home. What a night!
My first run in Rio de Janeiro was Sunday morning..and what a great way to start experiencing running in Rio de Janeiro. On Sundays they close the road that runs along Copacabana and Ipanama Beach, a total of about 10 kilometers, so a good 20 k’s if you go out and back.
It was warm, about 26 C (79F). I left the hotel at about 8.15 and already the road was busy with walkers, runners, strollers, families with chairs and blankets and picnics. I decided on this day to run down to the end of Ipanama and Leblon Beaches. A nice long flat run in the heat. I noticed at the end of the beach a tent set up for runningbrazil.com. I went over to say hi, but sadly we had language trouble. It was apparent that running clubs are very strong in Rio de Janeiro.
For my second day of running in Rio de Janeiro, after a massive day spent in the favela’s I ran around the lake. Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. There is a beautiful pathway around the entire lake, with kilometer markers all the way for a total of 7.4 k’s. There were many runners, and walkers. And again, even though it was a Monday morning, there were tents set up for both runners and triathlon clubs.
Instead of water stations, Rio de Janeiro has coconut stops. At least every kilometer around the lake and along the beaches, are booths that sell green coconut juice. Water out of the tap is not really advisable, although I did drink it and I am alive and well.
Sadly the lake is too polluted to swim in, although I am told that the bird life is coming back.
Given that the day was so clear and warm, after my run I took the local bus to Cosme Velho to catch the train to the top of Corcovado and the Christ. Taking the local bus in Rio de Janeiro is quite an adventure. I was advised that it was not safe, however, I never experienced any difficulty. I dressed like a local, didn’t wear any flashy jewelry of any kind, didn’t have anything to steal. I loved getting to see the city from the mad ride of the local bus.
The view from Corcovado is as spectacular as the photo’s. With more time I would have gone running in the forest and reserve around the mountain. Next visit.
After Corcovado I went into the city to an area called Saara. I had a mission to buy some Havaianas--the famous Brazilian flip flops (we call them thongs in Australia). I found the store that all the locals go, and brought 5 pairs. Saara is a very bustling and busy market place with a bazaar type of feel. The downtown area of Rio de Janeiro is not without its own beauty...some fantastic architecture and lovely squares.
That night Alexandra and her friend and I went to dinner in Ipanama, to a lovely place called Zaza. The food was great...the caipirinhas delicious. Everyone in Rio seems to drink caipirinhas. And they are good. For an non drinker of spirits, I found them very easy to enjoy. Lots of lime and ice...so very refreshing, and very dangerous. The cane sugar liquor that forms the base of the caipirinha is called cahacas and is about 40% proof. The other very popular drink is a chope (shoh-pee), or glass of light ice cold draft beer. Both hit the spot beautifully.
My final run in Rio de Janeiro was on the day of my departure. It was raining heavily when I left the hotel. I had been watching the weather forecast on the internet so I was not surprised. Today I ran down Copacabana. Even though it was raining heavily, I was not alone in my running. A few committed runners where out with me. It was not cold..which always helps a wet weather run.
I run because I love it..it is so easy to do when I travel, it keeps me fit, I really get to see places, and it is part of my personal mastery program.
On my next visit I would also like to run around Urca and possibly run up to the first cable car stop on Sugarloaf.
View from SugarLoaf, to Copacabana Beach
I took the local bus to Urca to take the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf. The weather cleared as we were going up, and by the time we got to the top, it was pretty clear. Now we could look back at the Christ, and up along Copacabana.
Finally, I took the bus to Ipanama to explore shops and to buy something to eat.
Ipanama has some beautiful and expensive shops, along tree lined streets, several blocks from the beach and the lake. I wonder though, when people get to wear the beautiful clothes. For to dress in luxury or out loud is to invite trouble.
Rio de Janeiro is such a city of contrast. Its beauty is breathtaking. Yet the bay and some of the beaches are so polluted. There is great wealth inches from extreme poverty. People of all colour live side by side, and it seems racism based on colour is non existent.
The uniting element is the music, which defines Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
Brazil is music and music is incomplete without Brazil.
Argentina is tango--proud, upright, arrogant, smoldering and sexy.
Brazil is samba--earthy, down and dirty, drums, pulsing, steamy and sexy.
I love Brazil, and especially Rio de Janeiro. Till next time.....