In my mind, Rio de Janeiro is an impossibly glamourously destination. I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel this way, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with seeing James Bond films as a child, vintage photos if Concord flying past Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer and possibly simply the exotic sounding location.
However, as is suggested by the term impossibly glamourous, it is impossible for Rio to live up to this hype. When Roger Moore fought Jaws on the cable car up to Sugar Loaf in the 1970’s, much of the architecture on Copacabana beach was cutting edge. Today the buildings of the city can generally be put into one of two categories, attractive period buildings, left by the Portuguese, or architectural mistakes thrown up in the ’60’s and ’70’s.
Rio also suffers from the problems that affect most big cities, over crowding, homelessness, crime, graffiti and general grime. Walking around the city, your left with the feeling that if you took away the natural wonders of mountains and beaches, and the sky was a typical English grey, you’d be left with a city similar to Birmingham – a few nice period buildings but more often than not pretty grubby 1960’s throw backs.
Brazilians say that God created the Earth in 6 days and on the 7th he created Rio, which is a shame, because if He had hired a town planner, things may have panned out differently.
Still, as I sit here high on a hill in Santa Therese, watching the sun come up over the city below, I can’t quite shake off the feeling that I am somewhere glamourous. After all, it does have the mountains, beaches and weather. And when all is said and done, Rio de Janeiro is just a nicer name than Birmingham!