Brazil: Big City Life
Oh, Brazil… I have to admit I like the country even more than I expected I would. I’ve never seen such impressive views and cityscapes in whole of Europe. Everything is bigger and although it’s hard to tell exactly why, you feel you’re in a different continent.
Rio de Janeiro is such a remarkable city. It’s huge, but still you’re constantly surrounded by green and water. Like every big metropolis, most things are open 24/7, which gives a lot of dynamics to the city. Still, people take their time to talk to you and help you – a thing that’s sometimes hard to find in European cities.
They view from Morro da Urca is incredible. The mountain next to it, Pão de Açúcar, is higher and more famous, but since the cable car had problems, I couldn’t go there.
Another exciting view, but one where no tourist is allowed, was on the rooftop of the 24 story high building of my CouchSurfing host Chico in Ipanema. I had the coolest late night picnic ever. You can actually see the sea on one side and the lagoon on the other.
The exhibitions at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) were very impressive and the curators clearly know what they are doing.
Instituto Moreira Salles is a magnifiscent piece of Brazilian mid-century architecture. I liked everything about it: the building, the garden, the exhibitions and even the restaurant were all fitting my taste.
Of course it’s hard to ignore the huge Christ statue that you can see from practically every point in Rio. It took me almost a week to get to the Corcovado mountain top, since I was having so much fun downhill, but eventually I got there and the view is beautiful! I have to say that I expected the ‘Cristo Redentor’ to be even bigger, but that’s what happens after decades of worldwide promotion, I guess.
My second destination in Brazil was São Paulo. Being the largest city in the southern hemisphere, it’s also known as the ‘city without horizon’. My first impression: São Paulo is a concrete jungle, which I like. Entering the SP subway gave me the same kind of excitement I have when I take the subway in Paris.
I couldn’t have picked a better moment to visit São Paulo. The Biennial of Contemporary Art had just started, so I went directly to the Ibirapuera Park to check it out. The park itself is a perfect coexistance between the work of Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx.
I was surprised to see a Dutch photographer at the Biennial whose work I had already seen in 2007 in the FoAm museum in Amsterdam (right picture). His name is Hans Eijkelboom.
São Paulo has one of the biggest Asian communities outside Asia. Liberdade, the Asian district, was the perfect place to have sushi and check out cool stuff like an ornamented phone booth.
There is still so much to say about my Brazil trip and I will, really soon, post another article about some of my other experiences!