Archive for Brazil


My Favourite Photos of 2013

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Rather than pick out a load of pictures I took in 2013 with my trusty old Nikon (or Olympus for underwater pics), I thought I’d showcase my Instagram skills. For those of you who don’t know, Instagram is a popular, free photo sharing app available for your smart phone. It always you to crop, rotate and apply some basic effects to the image taken with the camera on your smartphone and I’ve been pretty impressed how easy it is to use.

Below are a sample of my favourite images I took using my phone. Any editing was done within the Instagram app.

Sunrise over the Cunard Building, Liverpool, UK


Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro


Dawn in Knutsford, north west England


Rainbow over Dedham Vale, England


Houses of Parliament, London


The last sunset over London in 2013

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Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

¬†This isn’t a photo I posted to Instagram (Instagram pics are always square, this is panoramic) but I took it with the camera on my smartphone. It is the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the 2014 World Cup Final will be played.

I’ve found Instagram to be a great little app to share photos which. A huge number of people have smartphones with cameras and the app is free to download. It is easy to use and allows you to share your photos quickly and easily onto Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

If you would like to see more of my Instagram photos, my account can be found here –


Rio From The Air

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Rio Helicopter TourRio de Janiero has some of the most iconic landmarks in the world that are instantly recognisable. The statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooks this sprawling city with the stunning Copacabana and Ipamena beaches, Sugar Loaf mountain and the world famous Maracana Stadium which will be the venue of the 2014 World Cup Final.

Anyone who has been up the base of the 30m tall statue of Christ the Redeemer will tell you of the stunning views over this famous city. However, it is possible to get an even better view….from a helicopter.

There are various companies in Rio offering different helicopter tours. The one I took departed from the lagoon situated a few blocks behind Ipanema. There was a bit of a queue as this is a popular way to see Rio but eventually I got on board for the relatively short trip. By nature, helicopter tours anywhere are short but the views are worth it.

Ipamena and Copacabana Beaches

Ipamena and Copacabana beaches in Rio de Janeiro

There were just 3 passengers on our helicopter so we all had a seat next to a window. The pilot took us out to the coast our Ipanema Beach where we could see the stunning blue ocean, golden beaches and even the hotel I was staying in. We flew along the beach towards the headland and the Parque Garota de Ipanema separates Rio’s two most famous beaches; Ipanema and Copacabana. At the far end of Copacabana, the distinctive shape of Sugar Loaf mountain was easy to see.

Next we headed over the statue of Christ the Redeemer which has looked down on the city for more than 90 years. It is a seriously popular place for visitors to go to get a view of the city but their view wasn’t as good as the one I had. Looking down on the view area, there was a mass of people swarming round the base the statue trying to get a spot to take a photo of the statue and the city below.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro

To the north, was another of Rio’s famous landmarks – the Maracana Stadium (Estadio do Maracana). Built for the 1950 World Cup, it was here that a world record 199,000 people watched Uruguay beat the host nation 2-1 to win the World Cup. Defeat did not go down well in Brazil and their goalkeeper, Barbosa, was blamed for the defeat by Brazilian society. Shortly before his death in 2000, Barbosa said the maximum sentence in Brazil is 30 years but he had been paying for something he wasn’t responsible for over the last 50 years.

In a few months, the World Cup will return to Brazil and the modern Maracana has been rebuilt and will host the 2014 World Cup Final.

Maracana Stadium

Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

The helicopter tour was over all too quickly but there is something magical view the world from such a high vantage point. Was it more expensive that a land based tour – YES, was it shorter than a land based tour – YES……was it worth it – ABSOLUTELY !!


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View of Ipanema

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Along with Copacabana, Ipanema beach is one of the best known beaches in Rio de Janeiro. However, there is more than just a wonderful beach to Ipanema. It is considered to be one of the more desirable areas of Rio to live in.

Naturally, the beach is incredibly popular and people arrive early to secure their favourite spot for a lazy day in the sun.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema faces south on to the Atlantic Ocean. When the sun begins to rise and the shadows start to retreat, life starts to stir on this wonderful stretch of coastline. Joggers are a common site and dotted along the beach are a number of exercise stations when people can stop for a stretch. People are already sitting outside the little refreshment kiosks which never seem to close and always seem to have a supply of fresh coconuts.

It isn’t long before tented shelters start to appear on the beach where vendors will set up offering sun loungers and parasols to sunbathers.

As the sun climbs in the sky, more and more people arrive at Ipanema. Some just want to soak up the sun while others are more active. You don’t have to look hard to find a group of men or women kicked a football around. Sometimes there are organised games, other times people are playing football / volleyball. The level of skill is quite impressive.

Getting to the beach is fairly straight forward with buses constantly running in both directions along the road. The only exception is that every Sunday, the lanes closest to the beach are closed to motorised traffic to allow more room for walkers, joggers and cyclists.

Dois Irmaos mountains from Hotel Praia Ipanema rooftop pool

To the right of the beach the skyline is dominated by the instantly recognisable Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) mountains. The beach stretches along to the headline in the east where it borders Copacabana. The views from any of the beachfront hotels are simply stunning.

There is more to Ipanema than the beach. The streets are set out in neat grids so it is quite easy to find your way around to the various bars, restaurants and shops. Around 1km away from the ocean you will find the lagoon and if you look high up, you will see Christ the Redeemer looking down on the city of Rio.

For years, Copacabana was the place to head for when in Rio but now Ipanema offers a superb alternative and next time I’m Rio, I’ll be heading back there.


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