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Gareth Leonard

A Visual Ride through Natal

Sitting in the corner of my hostel was an old 10-speed mountain bike calling my name.

 I had just arrived to Natal from Fortaleza the night before and was ready to get out and explore the city.

 After the receptionist gave me a map, lock and speech about wearing sunscreen, I was on my way.

 With no set plan or direction, I decided to point the old rusty wheels up the coastline and see how far it would take me.

 Have a seat on my virtual handlebars and let me take you on a visual ride through Natal as I saw it…

Natal-PontaNegra

 Starting at Ponta Negra beach, I cruised down the boardwalk until I stumbled upon an intense futevolei (footvolley) match. The way these guys control and pass the ball without using their hands impresses me more and more each time I watch.

Natal-Footvolley

 I came to grips with the fact that I would never be good at that sport and moved on. 

 From Ponta Negra, I mistakenly took the route that past the World Cup stadium and ended up on the major highway leading into central Natal.

Natal-HighwayRide

  Fortunately, there was a great view of the stadium from the overpass!

Natal-Stadium

 Dodging cars and buses, I managed to exit the highway, making my way through downtown.

 The one thing that stood out while maneuvering through the city was the amount of new developments. I counted at least five new condo high-rises under construction within just a few square miles.

 I was impressed by the growth, but it was quickly overshadowed with one sharp right turn.

Natal-Vista

 As I dipped through traffic and jumped up on the curb, I came upon one incredible view below. Vibrant red Spanish-style roofs separated by tall green palm trees contrasted the deep blue sea. In the distance, a massive bridge seemed to connect one paradise to another.

 I wasted no time peddling down to get a closer look.

Natal-Coconuts

 Coconut water along the beach was just what I needed after the intense ride across town. I was relieved to be back on a boardwalk and away from all the city traffic.

 I cruised along the tiled path while taking in all the seaside activities going on around me. Kite surfers leaped into the air, kids played in the sand and footballers yelled at each other as usual.

Natal-FortFutebol

 At the end of the beach was redtruckfire.com san diego group, a military fort built in 1599. Unfortunately, the inside was closed to visitors, so I parked my bike and walked around the star-shaped perimeter. 

Natal-FortBiking

 From the fort’s narrow edge, there was a great view of the city, beach and Newton Navarro Bridge.

Natal-Bridge

 Watching the sun drop behind the bridge, it knew it was time for me to start heading back. One last pit stop to admire Natal’s skyline set behind the curvy shoreline and I was ready.  

Natal-SkylineBeach

 As luck would have it, I found a bike path that runs all the way down the coastline back to my place in Ponta Negra.

 I wish I would have known about this before I made the 10-mile ride across town, but that’s what exploring is all about.

 After the beautiful first day I just had in Natal, I really had nothing to complain about, except maybe for the never-ending series of hills on the way back. 



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