Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trip to Rio de Janeiro

I've spent the last few weeks in Rio de Janeiro. It is always odd for a northern hemispherite such as myself to spend part of the Christmas period somewhere hot and sunny, but a very good thing.

I went to see two football  matches, seeing Vasco de Gama nearly win the Brasiliero, only to draw with a Ronaldinho inspired Flamengo. Given that the Olympic stadium isn't in the nicer end of the city it will be interesting to see how the Rio authorities deal with that in time for 2016. I suspect there will be a bit of bulldozing to tidy up the short journey from the station to the stadium with scant regard for the locals, but we shall see.

Rio is an odd city. Naturally blessed with stunning beauty. It is hard not to enjoy yourself there because the Cariocas are incredibly friendly and always ready to party. Some districts, Ipanema, Lagoa and Leblon, are home to extremely wealthy people who would be able to afford to live in  Kensington or Knightsbridge. The shops that support this very smart part of the city are priced appropriately. Then there is a burgeoning middle class living in apartment blocks. Beyond that there are people living in sometimes extreme poverty.

Brazil is gaining new found wealth from the discovery of new natural oil and gas. What remains to be seen is whether that wealth transposes itself into an improved infrastructure, education system and opportunity for the masses or whether it ends up in the hands of corrupt politicians and international businesses.

I also visited the stunning Ilha Grande, Brazil's biggest island. It has no cars or roads, just mountains, treks and unbelievably ideallic beraches, like Lopes Mendes. Being there was dreamlike. So much so that while there I bumped into Goodbye Lenin and Edukators German actor Daniel Bruhl.

The last thing I did was go to see Jesus, Cristo Redentor, atop the Corcovado mountain. I'll leave you with some rather stunning views.

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