In Rio, even the drive to work is special. The commute begins in Ipanema and Copacabana, two quite differing neighbourhoods united by the beauty of their world renown beaches.
We turn inland past majestic Cristo atop Corcovado, gazing upon a mirror-like Lagoa, then onwards through the tunnels west, a spectacular ocean road winding its way on stilts past tropical islands as the sun rises over the south Atlantic. To the right is perhaps the most breathtaking view of all: you need to crane your neck to see all the way up to the top of the mighty Pedra da Gávea. Emerging from the Tijuca forest, it is one of the largest mountains in the world to meet the ocean. Further round lies the prettiest of harbours; by now the golden light of dawn is twinkling off the water as boats bob gently at the foot of the mountain.
Suddenly the landscape changes again and the long straight stretch of Barra begins – ubiquitous palm trees and shopping centres make it clear to see why folk refer to it as the Miami of Rio. Finally, over a canal reflecting the sky, to Recreio. The end of the line and it feels like the end of the world. There’s a serene beauty to this place – the furthest west you can be and still be in Rio. For eight months this was our home, out in the marshes and the mountains with a view back to the city that few tourists ever get to see.
Every step of the journey reveals new wonders and however many times we drove it, there was always more to discover. Sure, the traffic drove us nuts sometimes but heck, it must be the greatest commute in the world.