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Barra da Tijuca RJ Travel Guide

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Until the end of the 1960s, the stretch of coast between Morro do Joá and Pontal de Sernambetiba remained almost unaltered from its natural state, in which it was a vast stretch of sand dunes.

When Viaduto do Joá bridge was built in the 1970s, and city planner Lúcio Costa was developing an urban plan for the area, Barra da Tijuca became a magnet for new growth.

Costa's objective was to layout streets in a way that integrated natural beauty with the new buildings. But after the first buildings were built, the plan changed and Costa's vision never materialized.

Barra da Tijuca, which is in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) but very close to the Zona SuI, is unlike other parts of Rio. It doesn't have the bakeries, juice parlors, and corner bars typical of other neighborhoods. In fact, there aren't many corners at all: The neighborhood has a few wide avenues, lots of condominiums, and dozens of shopping centers and supermarkets.

Everything is set in beautiful natural surroundings, including beaches caressed by powelful waves and dunes sprinkled with vegetation. It also has plenty of movie theatres, and a few playhouses and cultural centers.

However, Barra da Tijuca's modern urban design has introduced its share of problems. The neighborhood is essentially one large avenue, Avenida das Americas, with a secondary thoroughfare, Avenida Sernambetiba, running along the beachfront. Consequently, when the traffic gets heavy, the lack of alternative routes causes serious bottlenecks.

Also, there are few places to backtrack on the main thoroughfares, so drivers must pay attention to signs so as to avoiding missing their turnoff.

The most beautiful way into the area is along Avenida Niemeyer, passing through São Conrado and following the coast. Another option is Estrada das Furnas, which cuts through Tijuca Forest, then Estrada da Barra da Tijuca as far as Avenida Armando Lombardi.

For those coming from the Zona Norte, the yellow line is the quickest route, although it requires paying a toll.

Map of Rio de Janeiro City

Map of Barra da Tijuca

 

Map of Barra da Tijuca RJ

BEACHES

PRAIA DO PEPE

This 300-yard stretch of beach gets fairly busy in summer. Artists, athletes, and bathers converge here.

People play foot-volley, sutf, kite surf, and windsurf. The beach stretches from Posto 1 to Posto 2, which is right at the edge of Barra da Tijuca and is on the far left if you are facing the sea.

To get there take Avenida Sernambetiba, this strip of which is informally known as Avenida do Pepe. In thei r names, both the beach and the avenue pay homage to Pedro Paulo Lopes, an adventure sportsman and one of the first people to set up a sandwich stand in the area.

Pepe died in 1991 in a hang-gliding accident, but his stand, which is still operating, remains the most famous in the area.

The beach has course sand, and its strong winds and high waves make it ideal for water sports. The foot-volley nets in the sand are highly coveted.

PRAIA DA BARRA DA TIJUCA

Stretching for eleven miles, Rio's longest beach has clean - but rough - green waters that draw fishermen and strong winds that attract surfers, windsurfers, and body boarders. It doesn't get as busy as Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, but it's similarly well equipped, with kiosks, showers, bathrooms, and a cycle path.

The more-urbanized end of the beach is the half that is closer to Praia do Pepe.

People flock to the neighborhood's shopping centers, bars, and restaurants. So, for beachgoers coming from the Zona SuI, heavy traffic can complicate arrival.You 're best off going before 10am or after 4pm, when the traffic lets up.

Beach-volleyball nets are scattered along the beach, while footvolley games tend to develop around the marker called Posto 3.

At Posto 4, almost in front of the Sheraton Hotel, is Brazil's oldest sutf school; there are now many such schools along the entire beach. Although the water is suitable for swinmung, the underwater portion of the beach is very steep on the end near Recreio, which sometimes causes powerful waves to surge up unexpectedly.

We recommend avoiding the area near Avenida Ayrton Senna, which gets clogged with bus passengers emerging from the nearby terminus of several lines.

The deserted area known as Reserva, between Posto 9 and 10, is off limits. The whole beach is poorly lit at night.

SPORTS

The beaches of Rio's Zona Oeste (West Zone) are suitable for a range of outdoor sports, including surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, foot-volley, volleyball, soccer, and frescobol (beach paddleball).

Some have well defined areas set aside for specific sports, and players are careful not to invade each other's spaces. Praia do Pepe hosts perhaps the widest athletic diversity of any local beach.

Maps of Sport activities in Barra da Tijuca

Barra da Tijuca Sports

1 SURFING

The entire beach from Praia do Pepe to Praia da Macumba (in Recreio) has powerful waves, and surfers tend to populate the whole stretch. There are some particularly popular spots, however.

Surf championships are held in the middle of Praia da Barra, in a mile-long stretch around building number 3100, Avenida Sernambetiba, where the waves can get up to six feet high.

The waves can vary from three to seven feet at Praia da Macumba, on Estrada do Pontal, at Prainha, and in Grumari.

The sport has become so popular that there is even a special bus service for transporting surfers and their boards.

2 WINDSURFING

The place to windsurf is at Farol da Barra, on Praia do Pepe, Posto 2.

3 KITE SURFING

Praia do Pepe is also the place to kite Surf. Seek out the Surf post in front of the stall Barraca do Pepe.

4 DIVING

Laje do Recreio dos Bandeirantes is the place for diving. From the beach, in front of the stand of pine trees near the beach, you have to swim nearly a mile or walk approximately 546 yards through the ro cks, to get to the diving spot.

This is a spot for experienced divers, not newbies. Water depth ranges from 6 to 30 feet and visibility from 10 to 30 feet.

5 FLYFISHING

All of Praia da Barra is good for fislung, especially from late afternoon until early monung. But fi shermen tend to ga ther around the left end of Praia da Barra, at Praia do Pepe, on the pier, and at the entrance of Lagoa de Marapendi.

One can catch a variety of species here. The concentration of bathers and sUlfe rs, however, makes it impossible to fish on summer weekends.

6 FOOT-VOLLEY

Foot-volley (which is a beach volleyball played without the use of hands; only your head, feet, and chest are allowed), is very popular among soccer playe rs in front of Condomínio Barramares and Posta 3. There are also nets on Praia do Pepe.

7 VOLLEYBALL AND SOCCER

Along every beach, there are volleyball nets and soccer goal posts set up every 100 yards or so. Locals join pickup games that last all day.

6 SKATEBOARDING

The main skateboarding spots in Barra da Tijuca are Cebolao, as the 10-foot by 26-foot Trevo das Palmeiras half pipe is known, and Condomínio Riviera Dei Fiori, which is a small hollow with rounded edges.

7 PARACHUTING

Planes take parachuters on panoramic flights over Barra da Tijuca. After about 25 minutes, it's time to jump from an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The fireefall lasts about 35 seconds before the parachute opens. Jumpers then float down for another five minutes and return to earth next to the Jacarepagua airport. Instructors accompany jumpers, and beginners are allowed to participate.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Map of other attractions in Barra da Tijuca

Mapa of attrations in Barra da Tijuca

1 CASA DE CULTURA DA ESTÁClO DE SÁ

This delightful cultural space belongs to Estácio de Sá University and contains an auditorium, art gallery, bookshop, cafe, and restaurant. The colorful faҫade makes the entrance welcoming.

The 180-seat auditorium hosts plays, shows, and lectures. The cafe next to the bookshop occasionally holds literary events.

Galeria Tarsila do Amaral holds rotating photography and art exhibitions. For program details visit: casadecultura.estacio.br . Avenida Érico Veríssimo, 359, Barra da Tijuca.

2 CENTRO CULTURAL SUASSUNA

Easily missed by people hurrying down Avenida das Americas, the versatile Suassuna Cultural Center, which opened in 2002, has a varied cultural program for all ages. There are theatrical performances, ballets, exhibitions, shows, and other events.

The 300-seat theatre hosts inexpensive plays for adults and children. There is also an exhibition room, cafeteria, bookshop, and comic shop. For program details visit www.centroculturalsuassuna.com.br . Avenida das Américas, 2603, Barra da Tijuca.

3 BOSQUE DA BARRA

Parque Municipal Arruda Camara (Arruda Camara Municipal Park), known as Bosque da Barra (the Barra Woods), is a conservation area that preserves a bit of the original ecosystem of Baixada de Jacarepagua.

Joggers and cyclists frequent its its 131 lush acres of peace and quiet on weekdays, and families flock here on weekends. The park has a 1.2-mile jogging track, children's climbing equipment made out of tree trunks and rope, barbecue pits, an artificial lake, parking, a seed laboratory, nursery, and a wide range of plants and animals.

Many of the park's plant species are endangered, such as the glorybushes, the murtilo, and the strawberry guava.

Native animals include crab-eating raccoons, which approach visitors, as well as ferrets, skunks, capybaras, and sloths.

Birdlife includes egrets, cormorants, teals, hawks, wood rails, and jacanas.

An "ecotheater" group performs on weekends under the shade of the jambolan trees. Avenida das Américas, km 6, Barra da Tijuca.

4 AUTODROMO NELSON PIQUET

Since 1977, the Jacarepaguá racetrack, now called Autódromo Nelson Piquet in homage to the three-time world Formula 1- racing champion, hosts many Brazilian and international sporting events.

It has a temporary, 2-mile-long track that's to be replaced by the end of 2008. Surrounded by greenery and mountains, it is one of Brazil 's most modern speedways and has been selected as a venue for events in the 2007 Pan American Games.

The stadium seating can hold up to 41,000. The public is only allowed in on race days, as there are no guided visits. Rua Embaixador Abelardo Bueno, Barra da Tijuca.

THEATERS

Barra da Tijuca's thea ters stage excellent shows for all ages.

CINEMAS

The neighborhood has a variety of cinemas that screen films for all tastes.

BARS AND NIGHTCLUBS

The neighborhood's nightclubs, bars and restaurants fill up at night.

SHOPPING CENTERS

Barra da Tijuca's famous shopping centers are mostly concentrated on Avenida das Americas.

Barra da Tijuca travel guide and tourism information such as festivals, maps, activities and attractions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Brazil Travel Guide

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