Friday, 22 April 2011
THE ROAD TO RIO
Eventually Leana and I have made it to "The Marvelous City" - Rio De Janeiro. We've taken our sweet time, for a number of reasons (I apologise for the delay to the 3 people who still look forward to my updates). After my last update from Joinville we had to cycle inland for a while past the pleasant city of Curitiba, up in the hills. After that we left the "Trucking Highway" and returned to the coast as soon as possible (I suffered loads of punctures from truck-tyre debris, and had to replace a broken wheel rim along the way as well). Oh yes, during that time both of us celebrated our 5th birthdays on the bikes - the new rim was my birthday present. In the process we also by-passed Sao Paulo (the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere), which sits away from the coast up over the mountains. Instead we stuck to the coastline and cycled via the coastal cities and resorts of Praia Grande, Sao Vicente, and Guaruja - as well as the Port city of Santos. So let me get back to the reason for our slow progress. Firstly, this section of coastline is absolutely beautiful. There were so many wonderful places to stay over that we often called it a day soon after lunch-time, and we stayed over in places a few times (also at the picturesque historic town of Paraty). There is an endless number of islands off-shore, and stunning white beaches, backed by steep hills which are covered in the lush Atlantic rainforest. That brings me to the second reason for our slow progress - every beautiful beach is separated from the next one by a steep bluff or big hill, where we lost a lot of sweat in the humid conditions. However, at the top of the hills there was the reward of beautiful scenery. Also, we were lucky that the rainy season is coming to an end, and we hardly had any rain at all during this time. Talking about time, we tend to lose track and didn't realise that we pulled into one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world at the start of the Easter Weekend (a very big holiday in Brasil). All budget accommodation was fully booked, and we were fortunate to find a cancellation in a not-so-cheap place which we had to take for the whole weekend (thanks to Leana - and it is a wonderful flatlet in Copacabana). Rio is really a marvelous place, and we haven't even seen everything yet - although we cycled in via the big world-famous beaches (including Ipanema and Copacabana where we are staying). The beaches are packed, but I'm a little disappointed as I was expecting to see hordes of beautiful young topless "carnival queens". Instead most of the sunbathers are overweight and not at all self-conscious about it (and thankfully I haven't seen any topless women yet - something has to hold that lot together!). We have a few days to take in the sights of the city, and we'll probably take the cable car up to the top of Pao De Azucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). When we leave here we'll probably head inland and West again, but don't count on that. Daily distances cycled since my last report have been:- State Border 111 km; Registro 110 km; Peruibe 109 km; Guaruja 122 km; Bertioga 37 km; Boicucanga 70 km; Sao Sabastiao 41 km; Maranduba 52 km; Ubatumirim 61 km; Paraty 49 km; Tarituba 37 km; Angra Dos Reis 66 km; Mangaratiba 65 km; Barra Do Tijuca 93 km; and Rio De Janeiro 55 km. Total distance cycled in South America so far is 8 607 km. Total distance cycled since the start of this journey is 75 094 km.