Construction worker Adriano Lima fell from scaffolding and broke his back when he was 17. The crippling injury permanently deprived him of the full use of his legs. As part of his rehabilitation, he started swimming regularly. He proved adept in the water and eventually earned a spot on the squad that represented Brazil at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. He won two medals in the 2008 Games in Beijing and a staggering seven gold medals at the 2007 Pan American games in Rio do Janeiro.
Lima lives with his wife and young daughter in his hometown Natal, the coastal Northeastern city where he enjoys the status of a local celebrity. Here are his tips for your next visit there.
Two locations: Avenida Engenheiro Roberto Freire, 2610 and Rua Pedro Fonseca Filho, 8887
Telephone: 3209-2424 / 3209-2425
Sea food and international dishes
Avenida Amintas Barros, 3300
traditional Northeast cuisine, self-service by weight
Avenida Miguel Castro, 1329
Buffet and barbecue
Avenida Senador Dinarte Mariz, 6045
Via Costeira, kilometer 11
Editor’s note: BrazilMax recommends the Manary Praia Hotel, a member of the exclusive Roteiros de Charme network.
Given his training regime and athlete’s diet, bars are not Adriano’s specialty, he stresses. But he still came up with a couple of tips for us, both on Avenida Prudente Morais in the Candelária district.
Avenida Prudente de Morais, 6252
Open from 5 p.m. until the last customer leaves; closed Sunday
Avenida Prudente de Morais, 6109
Open from 5:30 p.m. until the last customer leaves; closed Sunday
Natal Beaches: Southern Beaches (Litoral Sul)
Ponta Negra – the main tourist beach in town, noted for Natal’s symbol “Bald Man’s Hill” (Morro do Careca)
Cotovelo - surfing
Búzios – kite-surfing
Tabatinga – picturesque views
Pirangi do Sul – take a boat out for some snorkeling
Tibau do Sul – often forgotten but with beautiful beaches, just before Pipa
Pipa – picturesque seaside town with famous beaches and good night life
Natal Beaches: Northern Beaches (Litoral Norte)
Genipabu – dune buggy rides
Touros – far northerly beach, popular with kite-surfers and water sports fanatics.
Natal Shopping Malls
Avenida Engenheiro Roberto Freire, 1850
Avenida Bernardo Vieira, 3775
includes high-quality 12-screen multiplex movie theater
Parque das Dunas - a state part that includes the Bosque dos Namorados (Lovers’ Forest)
Avenida Alexandrino de Alencar
Modest entrance fee, which includes access to the nature reserve where trained guides can organize walks on the dunes.
Parque do Natal - a new development featuring an impressive elevated museum designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer
Avenida Omar O´Grady, 8080
What Not to do in Natal
Although Natal is one of the safest of Brazil’s state capitals, care should be taken around tourist areas. The principal tourist beach Ponta Negra can be unsafe especially at night. Adriano offers another piece of advice to avoid daylight robbery: learn Portuguese so that you can bargain with the traders! Furthermore, the beaches of Dos Artistas and Redinha and the beach that surrounds the historical fort (all to the north of downtown) are less safe than most. They tend to be crowded and are generally considered “for locals only.”
Accessibility for Wheelchair Users
The shopping centers are well-equipped for wheelchairs, as are both of the above mentioned parks. Unfortunately, access to the beaches is still limited: the only concessions are disabled parking areas. Even so, many people ignore the signs, and the designated spaces are often taken by unauthorized drivers.
Check out Dave Maclure’s blog.
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