Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Sights of Rio de Janeiro (Part 2)

Last time we visited the two biggest tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro, the Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar. This time, we take a look at three more: the ever famous Ipanema Beach, the eccentric Escadaria Selarón (Selarón's Staircase), and the beautiful Jardim Botânico near Leblon.

We started the day in Santa Teresa and visited Escadaria Selarón, which is a tile covered stairway that connects the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhood. It started in 1990 by the artist Jorge Selarón as a simple repair of some steps outside of his house and since then it has grown to cover all the entire staircase, as far as you can see.

[1/10/2013: Jorge Selaron sadly passed away. Rest in peace.]

The decorative tile work has become an international collaboration. People from around the world have donated tiles to the project and half the fun is trying to find the tile that came from your corner of the world.  Washington was well represented about six tiles featuring Native American art. Everywhere has a tile and everything seems to have a tile too. The Hanshin Tigers (my favorite Japanese baseball team) and even AC/DC were all on there.

While we were there, we also had a chance to meet the artist himself. He was there working on a new section of the stairs. He has a small artist space where he stores tiles and sells small paintings to fund his work, all of which feature some variation on a pregnant black woman (something that the artist the artist is cryptic about). All of the paintings that I saw had the same basic pattern, except for the one he likes to pose with up above...

Up next, the botanical gardens and the stunning Ipanema beach!

Keep reading after the break!

The botanical gardens of Rio de Janeiro (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro) is a large garden in the heart of the southern zone of Rio. It is a 338 acre park with thousands of species of plants throughout the park, as well as a few gardens focusing on specialty topics such as orchids, herbs, medicinal plants, and even an area set aside for plants that attract humming birds. The park itself is well over a hundred years old with many of the buildings dating back to 1890. The park itself was started in 1808.

The park is a very popular weekend destination, especially for families with small kids. There were a lot of people pushing around strollers or playing around the park. It's an inexpensive way ($3 per person) to get out of the house and the park is large enough to spend a least a couple of hours in. My personal favorite was probably the orchid house, as well as some of the local fauna.

The last stop is Ipanema Beach. I like beaches, but after a little bit I am ready to go. This is the funnest beach I've ever been on. It's an extremely busy beach with a lot of people, but everyone from all walks of life is down here. All you have to do is find a spot of sand big enough, lay down your towel (or rent a chair), and start enjoying the beach. The beach is set up with vendors all along the way who sell snacks, drinks (regular and alcoholic), chairs, and umbrellas.

The beach is divided into a series of "Posts". Posto 7 is on the east end of the beach, which has the best waves and is where the surfers are. There is also Arpoador, which is the rocks at the far end of the beach. At sunset, people gather on the rocks for one of the best panoramic views of the beach. Between Posto 7 and 8 it is a little calmer, but the waves are still pretty strong. Big ones will knock you over if you aren't careful, but it's a blast to swim there. Between Posto 8 and 9 is the gay section of the beach, where you'll see the rainbow flags flying above the sand. Beyond Posto 9 is where the rich are supposed to hang out, but I didn't see much down that that looked over the top. My favorite area was between 7 and 8, which also is closest to the subway station.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! There's even a documentary about this "posts" culture, but I'm not sure if it's subtitled in English!