Winter in Rio

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Pão de Açucar and Praia Vermelha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pão de Açucar and Praia Vermelha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It is now the heart of summer in the northern hemisphere and the heart of winter in the southern. But winter can feel like summer.

If you have harsh winters you may long for winters that look like the beach in this photo.

The beaches of Rio de Janeiro are normally sunny and warm throughout the year. Although as I write this they are having a cold snap.

This photograph was taken in the month of July so this is as ‘wintry’ as you would expect Rio to be. Typical winter daily high temperatures are around 75 degrees F (24 C).

This is a view over Praia Vermelha to Pão de Açucar, commonly known as Sugarloaf, although that may not be an accurate translation of the original name. Praia Vermelha or Red Beach was a quiet, uncrowded place when we were there. Sugarloaf is one of several massive granitic peaks that surround Rio.

There is a cable car that goes to the summit of Sugarloaf. It is barely visible in this photo as it arrives at the terminal. It is a two part cable car. The first part ends at Urca Mountain where there are some information displays, tourist facilities, and vendors. The second part spans over forest and exposed rock to reach Sugarloaf.

The cable car began operation in 1912. I find it an interesting coincidence that 1912 was also when a train began operating through a four mile tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch (in the Swiss Alps) to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. There must have a flurry of engineering dreams at the beginning of the 20th century. Tourism and sight-seeing drove some amazaing projects. Shortly after the construction began on the train to Jungfraujoch in 1898, a cable car was planned for the Aiguille du Midi (near Mont Blanc) in 1905. But the construction of that lift was not completed until 1927.

It was a warm evening when we rode the cable car on Sugarloaf. We stopped at Urca Mountain and enjoyed the view over Rio. It was our first day in Rio and we were exhausted from travel and hungry. We had flown overnight with a surreal early morning stop in São Paulo. As we walked around Urca Mountain we came across an empanada vendor. To be honest we weren’t sure if we could trust these small pastries that may have been sitting out all day under the heat lamps. But it turned out that the flaky crust filled with cheese and chicken was so good we ordered another. Maybe it was our condition, but they sure hit the spot.

This photo was taken nearby in the middle of the day. There were several fisherman working in the bay out of small boats. On some days the air is not this clear and visibility is reduced. Praia Vermelha is a little out of the main tourist crush. And the restaurant overlooking the beach is a great place for lunch. Food is purchased buffet style and sold by weight.

We enjoyed Rio, especially walking along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches on Sunday morning when the road is closed to cars. We also had a great dinner at a samba club downtown and were impressed with the energy of the dancers. Our friend in Rio took good care of us and the people were friendly, although you do have to be careful especially at night, like most big cities.

If you enjoy soft warm sand and gentle waves, Rio is a great bet.

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