Rio de Janeiro the Photo Edition – Sugarloaf, Christo and the Helicopter

We woke up on the Argentine side of Iguassu Falls today and it was belting it down. Absolutely hammering it down, hailstones the size of a monkey’s fist and as noisy as the great falls themselves on the tin roof of our hostel.

With the Arsenal playing at 12pm our time it seemed the perfect opportunity to settle in and watch the beautiful Giroud strut his stuff. All was going well until just before kick off they switched coverage to the US Open for Wawinka v Baghdatis. You could not make this up. So instead I am writing this update of our last few days in Rio whilst following twitter for updates from the game.

Our first day of sunshine in Rio brought an awesome breakfast overlooking the beach with Jen eating a pinha, which looked a lot like a load of seeds covered in goop to me but still, she persevered.

After a good fill we headed to Sugar Loaf for our first proper aerial view of this amazing city. It really was everything we had imagined and a whole lot more. The cable car ride up there leading to a few hard hand squeezes but once at the top looking down on the vultures and the city below it was all worth it.

The unique geography of the city coming to life in front of our eyes as we slowly took it all in. The favelas stretching up into the mountains the ( Get in Giroud! 1-0) row upon row of mini skyscrapers. The beaches the bays the lagoon all making more and more sense in this truly incredible city.

Here follows a bucket load of photos!

At the top of Sugar Loaf


Back towards Christo and Rio, Fogo do Chao visible on the harbour, Copacabana on the left


Next up was Christo, after a brief negotiation with a taxi driver who kept repeating the same things in heavily accented Portuguese at 1,000 miles an hour, we were at the train station at the foot of JC himself. The rickety funicular train on the way up stopping at inopportune moments led to more hand squeezes but we, along with the other 100 or so passengers, made it safely. At the top we were greeted by the arse of christ and the noise of hundreds of other sightseers and madcap photographers.

The view down towards Sugarloaf was spectacular but with all the Christ copiers doing their arms outstretched shtick the religious side of this great monument and the spiritual sense were sadly diminished. Still we took some pretty good pictures and braced ourselves for the helicopter ride that was to follow the next day as we saw a few circle his face like Spurs fans clustering around a Europa League Draw.

Big chap... chin like Jimmy Hill... you know the fella
Looking back towards Sugarloaf

That night we went to Aprazivel in Santa Teresa which was a lot like a restaurant we went to in Lisbon (cheers for the recommendation Fred) with incredible views down over the city and the lights below. We then had a few fresh beers in a little bar in Santa Teresa with our wonderful host Tom and his boss. A swift cab ride back and we were in chopper preparation mode!

So the day came. The sun rose over the city bringing with it a wave of excitement and FEAR for what was to come, although that nauseous feeling may in fact have just been a hangover after the excellent fresh beers.

We rocked up at the helipad and saw the hummingbird sized helicopter we were about to squeeze ourselves into. Safely strapped in our pilot whipped the engines up and we were off. Cruising at 3 metres above ground level Jen seemed at ease… This rapidly changed as we ascended over the city, the beaches sprawled wantonly in front of us as we turned back inland towards his redeemership.

From here words can’t really describe what we saw so to save thousands of the buggers here are some photos:

She's smiling. I kid you not, she's smiling!
Just the most amazing feeling
We're up here buddy. Chin up
Banking hard back to land
The City of God, a world away from the mansions of Barra
Chopper and a ducking Jen

We just had time to take in Ipanema beach before heading off and run through everything we had done in the last four days.

Legs ahoy!

We left Rio that afternoon promising to be back (and promising to learn some more Portuguese before returning) as the sun set below us. Next stop Iguassu Falls.

As I sign off it is still 1-0. In my head it will always be 1-0 no matter what happens!

***We would like to say a huge thank you to Tom Robinson for his Pheidippidean efforts in sorting out our awesome stay in Rio. From reams of restaurant recommendations to booking, cancelling, renegotiating and rebooking the helicopter ride. For letting us stay at his Favela-view apartment and general all-round good-eggmanship. Tom works for Dehouche travel agency and if you have some cash to burn and want to do South America in luxury then these are the guys to use.