Rio de Janeiro – The 5 Hour Speed Tour

Since the early part of 2013, I’ve been back and forth to Brazil.  I always fly through Rio de Janeiro to get to my final destination, be it Macae or Vitoria.  Up until now, I’ve not ever had the time to get out of the airport and walk around Rio as a tourist.  This last trip home, I had a five hour window of time to get out and finally see the city.  Thanks to my friends Gaston and Sergio, I was able to see some of the highlights.  Generously, Gaston paid for all of our taxi rides, and the fare to ride the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf mountain!

Here is a photo of Gaston (left) and me.  Brandon took the photo and, unbeknownst to me, he thought it would be fun to put a plant directly behind my head so it looked like I was wearing a festive hat.  Thanks dude. 🙂

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Gaston is an excellent photographer.  Here is a link to some of his workHe likes to shoot using medium and large format film cameras and he has quite the collection of them.  It takes a special gift of patience of skill to work with that kind of equipment.

Gaston had to work so he wasn’t able to join us on our whirlwind tour of the city.  This made Sergio our guide for the day.  In my previous post about our trip to Sana, Sergio was in charge of that expedition.  I owe him a good tour of the Appalachians the next time he makes it to the US.

Hey look!  It’s Sergio!

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Off we went to catch the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.  In order to get to the top of Sugarloaf, you have to ride up to a lower mountain first and then change cable cars to complete the trip.

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We stopped at the intermediate mountain for a bite of lunch and some photos.  For whatever reason, tripods are not allowed unless you submit to a lengthy process of forms and fees which must be done at least a week in advance.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me from attempting some panoramas with my camera.  Using an arms-in-tight stance and pivoting only from the waist, you can get a pretty stable platform for a sweeping panorama.  The key when shooting like this is to allow plenty of overlap between each shot.  This gives the stitching software more to work with in terms of alignment and correction.

Due to the size of the original file, I can only post this scaled down version.  If you click on the image it will enlarge some for you but it still doesn’t show just how much detail was captured.

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To give you an idea, here is a peek at 100%.

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While eating lunch, this little monkey decided to pay me a visit.  He’s only about the size of a squirrel!  Perched on the back of a chair, he sat starring at me and my food.

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In the lunch area, someone had decorated for the holidays with these coconut characters.  Pretty creative!

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I saw this flower growing off of a tree at the lunch area.  I liked it.  I shot it.

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The clouds were covering the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and they weren’t showing signs of clearing up.  We decided to just go up there so we can say we’ve been.

This photo shows really well just how thick the clouds can get.

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I was secretly hoping that we would get up there and the clouds would magically give way for a few minutes of photos but no such luck.  Still, we had a good time.  Brandon was busy taking photos of the clouds for his Facebook.  Yes, the pictures were just totally white.

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He also was able to eat the clouds which he said tasted very good.  A worthwhile trip even if only for that!

Looking over the edge of the mountain, I found this little stand of plants clinging to the rock.

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After eating clouds and taking a few photos, we made our way back down to the city.  Back when I still had my art reproduction business, I did some work on a set of paintings of the aqueduct in Rio de Janeiro called Arcos da Lapa.  This structure dates all the way back to the city’s colonial days.  With only a few hours left to walk around, I wanted to go see this structure.  A short taxi ride brought us to the aqueduct and it’s surrounding neighborhood.  The neighborhood of Lapa is known for being a sort of cultural and artistic hub for the artsy fartsy type.  I loved all the colorful old buildings and even some of the graffiti!

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After wandering around the Lapa Neighborhood and the Aqueduct, we walked back to our company’s offices.  It was only 3pm and our flights weren’t until 10pm but rain was on its way.  The rains had been flooding out the streets making it nearly impossible to get anywhere.  The taxis won’t even attempt to take anyone to the airport if they think it’s going to rain.  For this reason, it took 3 attempts to score a ride.  We’d flag down a taxi, tell them where we needed to go and they would refuse.  The third driver accepted and off we went to the airport.

It was an amazing day!  Gaston and Sergio, thank you so much for showing Brandon and me around the city.  I sure hope you guys can get to the US sometime so I can return the favor.

Technical Details:

All photos shot with a Nikon D600 and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G AF-S

3 thoughts on “Rio de Janeiro – The 5 Hour Speed Tour

  1. These are great Tom! I hope you don’t mind that I share them on FB so everyone can enjoy them. Brandon’s stories just take on a whole new meaning after seeing these. I love how he is also learning so much with you. Seeing his interest in photography develop has been a nice hobby we can all enjoy!


  2. As always, amazing shots, Tom!! I love seeing them through your eye. The graffiti was great- and so were some of those flowers! What a life you’re living…. I know it’s mostly work- but oh, the off-times!! Better than the Navy!


  3. Dana, I love that you share this website! It gives me continued reason to keep on shooting and publishing these travel photos and stories. Feel free to post and share wherever you like and to anyone you think might find it worth a look.

    Have an awesome 2014!



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