Experiences of a Dutchman living in Belo Horizonte, since December 2004, from month to month.
December 2006, part 4: Niterói: Ita; Rio: Botanical Garden and Urca Rock.
Jader had planned a day at a beach for our second day. He was not intending to go to Copacabana or Ipanema, beaches that we had visited the night before, but to a distant beach in Niterói: Itacoatiara. The bus had to follow Copacabana Beach, then Leme beach, where it had to turn left. After having passed a short tunnel, the route went along Botafogo and Flamengo. The bus had to slow down, when it passes Praça XV de Novembro and the harbor. The intense traffic caused the slowdown of the bus, even on the long bridge “Presidente Da
”, spanning Guanabara Bay between Rio and neighboring city Niterói. In Niterói, the route was along the Guanabara Bay, and then through Niterói to a distant beach. between high green hills. Itacoatiara Beach.
Itacoatiara Beach is much more peaceful than the urban beaches in Rio, Copacabana and Ipanema for example. The beach is not easy to access. The bus drive had to stop a few blocks before the beach. There was a checkpoint of the military police. The beach was embedded between two high hills, with a wide view of the Atlantic Ocean and some small, offshore islands The sea was very calm here, the rolling water arrived in tiny waves with almost no foam on the wave tops. The water was somewhat warmer than in Copacabana or Ipanema. We stayed the entire day on this beach, it was a warm and sunny day. Despite the pending raining season, we didn’t experience rain during our stay in Rio. The night was spent along the boulevard in Copacabana, where we wandered along dozens of market stalls with artesanato: handicraft.
On our final day, we had scheduled a visit to the famous Jardim Botânico, the Botanical Garden. That Sunday morning, there are regular bus services, although they are much less frequent. We had to be patient. The Botanical Garden is located at Lagoa Rodrigo da Freitas, a lake behind Ipanema Beach. The garden is very large, you need to plan a few hours for a visit. One of the highlights is the double row of imperial palm trees, that guide you to the central point of the garden. These trees are some dozens of meters high and very straight, like natural Greek pillars. The garden has various themes and vegetation areas; among them is Mata Atlântica, a forest type that is found along the eastern coast of Brazil. There was also a piece of Mata Amazônica, the Amazon Forest. Both forest types were very dense. Another highlight is the Japanese Garden, with structures and sculptures in Japanese style. At almost every location in the garden, we noticed the Corcovado with Cristo Redentor on it.
That afternoon, it was planned to visit Urca. It is some kind of a peninsula, with the rocks of Urca and the famous Pão de Açúcar. This time, we traveled with a larger group. Almost everyone had got enough sleep and lacked some phyisical activity. Vítor knew Rio quite well, and he promised us to guide us in the climb of Morro da Urca, the Urca Rock. We gathered at Praia Vermelha, the Red Beach. Curiously enough, there was a statue of Polish composer Chopin. His statue, in a thoughtful pose, was directed eastwards, towards the Ocean, towards Poland. This orientation was meant as mental support for the Polish people who suffered suppression of the German aggressors during the Second World War. Vítor guided us through natural trails, to the top of Morro da Urca. On this top was a small music temple, which regularly hosted local and national musicians. A performance was scheduled that night, the preparations were in full progress. To our giant surprise, a celebrity was there. Santa Claus himself! That was hard to believe, to meet him here in the tropics, on such a warm and day! He was holding a staff that strongly resembled to that I was used to see with the Dutch Saint Nicolas. The views from Urca were unforgettable: large parts, among them the districts of Flamengo and Botafogo, were visible. As if it were a miniature city beneath us. My second visit to Rio came to an end. Rio, a city you need to learn to know. Rio, a city you will learn to love.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012): Contemporary Art Museum, NITERÓI (RJ) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- A Foreigner in Brazil (37): DEC 2006 (III). Downtown Rio de Janeiro (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- A Foreigner in Brazil (36): DEC 2006 (II). Rio de Janeiro: Ipanema, Arts, and Music (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- A Foreigner in Brazil (35): DEC 2006, part one. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)