POINTS OF INTEREST
The juxtaposition of the "haves" and "have nots" couldn't be more stark, or more startling, than it is in São Conrado, where mansions and expensive condos sit right next to sprawling favelas. As you approach the neighborhood heading west from Ipanema, Avenida Niemeyer, blocked by the imposing Dois Irmãos Mountain, snakes along rugged cliffs that offer spectacular sea views on the left. The road returns to sea level again in São Conrado, a natural amphitheater surrounded by forested mountains and the ocean. Development of this upper-class residential area began in the late 1960s with an eye on Rio's high society. A short stretch along the beach includes the condominiums of a former president, the ex-wife of another former president, an ex-governor of Rio de Janeiro State, and a onetime Central Bank president. The towering Pedra da Gávea, a huge flattop granite boulder, marks the western edge of São Conrado. North of the boulder lies Pedra Bonita, the mountain from which gliders depart.