Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hiking (and Sight-Seeing)

I thought I had a dull Saturday ahead of me, with nothing else to do but a thesis to write; but this is when I can count on my friends! They'd never let me stay home writing a Master's thesis, pfff, God no! Instead, my drinking buddy and high-school friend D. dropped by and invited me to go hiking in Morro da Urca. Well, since it's next to my house, I thought "why the heck not?". My neighborhood, Urca, is just one of the most absolutely gorgeous places ever - certainly the most gorgeous in this city, by a clear mile, and where Sugar Loaf is located. So I dressed accordingly - and as an afterthought, I took my semi-professional camera. I hadn't gone hiking in quite a while, and D. told me that during that time, the Sugar Loaf stations had undergone renovation, so there'd be plenty of new things for me to take pictures of. Boy was he right!
Also, something I hadn't anticipated: the sun today was exactly as it's been the entire summer. Simply outrageous. By the time we got to the top, I was literally melting. But it was totally worth it! 
On the way up, we stumbled across this little buddy! Nothing surprising, though, tamarins are quite common around here - but it's always nice to see them around, they're just so darn cute!
Now: to go to Sugar Loaf, one can choose to a) climb (very popular among the most adventurous ones), b) take the cable cars (not one, two) or c) hike half-way, and then either climb or take the second cable car. So there are two cable cars stations along the way, and this is the first one,  that takes you to the second, highest mountain. Following the path next to the station, we got to this observatory, and what a view!
This is one of the beaches in Urca, with one of the military bases (the big building on the left); it's one of the most popular spots around here - the beach, not the military base! I took zillions of pictures at the observatory, including this one of D., pretending to be pensive (he's really not).
Next, we got to the renewed part of Sugar Loaf, where there are two models of the old cable cars and a heliport. And the whole place is like a lovely square, very family-friendly. A lot of children happy to be there, taking pictures with the statues of the "funny men" (actually, the guys who implanted the whole cable car system - not that the children care, and frankly, nor do I). A lot of nice benches all over, and I took the opportunity to look pensive on one of them.
  There's even this old cable car, from the 70's, with the story of the whole system written in Portuguese, English and Spanish. Quite instructive. 


Also, there's a new mini-theatre, that constantly shows a movie about the cable cars. I was watching it, rather amused, and it took me a little while to realise I was watching it in two languages: in Portuguese, but with subtitles in English. It completely weirded me out!... But a nice move on their part, the subtitles thing. Among many other things, the movie showed President J. Kennedy visiting Sugar Loaf; there was also the story of an American girl who intended to commit suicide; she came here only for that - but upon arrival, she thought the whole thing was so beautiful that she gave up. Really? She changed her mind that easily?! Well, good for her, I guess! Life's too short to spend a single moment thinking about "getting rid of it all". But I was truly impressed: Sugar Loaf is epiphany-giving, who'da thunk it?! 
I took a couple of pictures of the movie, hope it wasn't forbidden!

(To be continued...)


ambiguous_angel said...

oh how i love to travel. i always imagine myself hiking and taking pictures but i dont just have time and resources. But i did promised to myself that someday i will:)

Rml said...

Yeah, same thing here... But we're young, there's plenty of time for us! =)

beanizer_05 said...

wow!!! what a great break!..and that beach, so relaxing to imagine..i just had my break last beach but still real nature, near the mountains but no hiking..
btw, that lady in the bench is a beautiful view :)

Rml said...

Here in Rio de Janeiro we're actually very privileged to live between mountains and beaches - we don't have to actually choose! We can go from one to the other in a heartbeat, which is really great!
And awwww, thanks you! You're much too kind! =)