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Colour in Rio
29 June 2016
In May I
packed my samba shoes
and flew down to Rio where Gracie, the youngest, is studying Portuguese. It is an understatement
to say the city is vibrant - it pulses with life. The classic
lush green mountain
blue beach and seascapes are
more than breathtaking. And the whole city is washed in colour from weathered Colonial
mansions in faded pinks , blues and
street art in the favelas.
What about Zika, did I get mugged
? Sure, only a fool
would walk around flashing their i-phone or go for a beach swim after
and yes the mosquitos are
tedious. But more testing is to ride pillon on a moto taxi up to Gracie`s
hostel in Vidigal
pacified favela. Picture me
to the driver`s middle as he roars up
a near vertical
gradient, taking bends like a Manx TTrider in slow motion, swinging
the bike a hairís breadth from head-ons
with pedestrians, dogs, vans, and
moto taxis on their way down.
Like Rio`s other favela shanty towns, Vidigal creeps up the hillside a
jammed and improvised sprawl of basic
breeze block homes, shocking
wiring, open drains, and hole-in-the wall shops
and bars. You need a good pair of knees to explore the labyrinthine
passages. The views are stunning, as if from a
plane, looking down at the very distant beach fronts of Ipanema and Copacabana. Children fly kites in the wind thermals, spots of
bright colour against the sheer rock face and limit of Vidigal`s extent.
Above, the lush garden at Marcela`s beautiful Air BnB retreat in Cosme Velho (perfect if you`re going to the Olympics and want some time out) were we swam and read after a hard day`s sightseeing. It is a few minutes walk to Largo de Boticario (below) a hidden square of 19C Colonial architecture and colour.
Below: Santa Teresa has many nineteenth century Colonial mansions, plus trendy bars and restaurants.My favourite is Armazem Sao Thiago,
Below: street life in Vidiga
I must note of course that Rio is also a city of fabulous modernist and contemporary colour and detail. I`m intrigued, for example, by the pure white and futuristic Museum of Tomorrow, designed by Spanish architect
Santiago Calatrava, and built next to the waterfront at Pier Maua.