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mistybleu Rio de Janeiro - A travel report by Amanda
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Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil - flag Brazil
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mistybleu's travel reports

Rio, the cidade maravilhosa!

  26 votes
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Voted one of the top cities in the world to visit; Rio is fantastic and words can’t accurately describe the allure that it exudes. From the time you land there is a buzz which is exhilarating that can only be found in Brazil. It’s electrifying!


On top of Sugar Loaf Mountain
On top of Sugar Loaf Mountain
Rio de Janeiro is called ‘cidade maravilhosa’ or marvellous city and it truly is, from the time you see the Christ the Redeemer you know the city is blessed.

The life here seemed fantastic and much of the enjoyment surrounds the beach, which includes the local ‘Cariocas’ attire; as not much is worn as they look for comfort and style. They are very health conscious and everyday you can see people jogging or speed walking along the many paths. They are also fanatical about football (like if you didn’t know) and you can join in a game in nearly any open space; especially on Copacabana beach, where many people play beach football and volleyball.

One of the other great things about Brazil is the food, and there is a wide variety of lovely tropical fruit to choose from, and it’s quite cheap; this includes eating at restaurants, where beer costs around 30 pence. The nightlife is varied and there are lots happening and quite often there is a beach party going on.

I found Rio quite safe, but heeded local warnings, especially by not walking on the beach late at night and sticking well lit areas. They also recommended to take taxis rather than to walking during the night and if at all possible to leave my valuables in the hotel. I found credit cards are widely accepted including American Express, which was quite handy.

The temperature averages around 25 degrees centigrade and doesn’t normally fall below 24 degrees, with the highest average temperatures seen in February of 30 degrees which is perfect for their carnival. It also has over six hours of sunshine a day and there is only 3 to 4 hour time difference from Europe. From London it takes about 10.5 hours flying and the national airline is Varig, even though I wouldn’t recommend flying with them.

Favourite spots:
Christ the Redeemer Statue
Christ the Redeemer Statue
The most famous icon of Brazil is the CRISTO REDEMETOR (Christ the Redeemer) and can be considered as a ‘do not miss’ sight. To be honest even if you don’t get there, it stands so tall over the city, that it can be seen in every corner watching over the population, watching their every move.

It’s really easy to organise a trip yourself at a fraction of the cost, by taking public transport to Cosme Velho and then purchasing a tram ticket from Trem do Corcovado which will take you up Corcovado Hill. Through the green foliage of the Fijuca forest and as you ascend, the views get better and better, until Rio looks outstanding.

It was unfortunate that the weather in Rio was very overcast, as I stood right beneath the statue and still couldn't see it. Luckily every time the clouds were blown away I got glimpse of Christ’s face and it was a humbling experience, with many people being reduced to tears; it was an emotional journey.

What's really great:
Ipenema Beach
Ipenema Beach
…is the beach life, meeting the locals, the Brazilian culture; and not necessarily in that order.

The two most popular beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema; both special for different reasons; residential Ipanema doesn’t have many hotels on the beach front, but it’s a little classier then Cocapabana. On Sunday’s there is practically standing room only on the beach, as it is a national weekend pastime.

The Cariocas are very health conscience, from the food they eat to their down time; along beaches there are cycle paths; then on the beach tennis, foot volleyball, volleyball, and not to forget the national pastime of football. Then once in the Atlantic Ocean there is surfing, boogie boarding, bodysurfing or just plain old swimming.

Once I’d seen all of that, it was nice to grab a cold coconut water or beer and enjoy another cultural activity and that was people watching. If you’re not offended by nudity, it can be quite entertaining.

Sights:
Marancan Soccer Stadium
Marancan Soccer Stadium
You must visit the MARACANA SOCCER STADIUM (where the actual World Cup is exhibited), to see a game or take in a tour. Also all the popular Brazilian players are represented in a walk of fame, including Pele whose voice reverberates around the stadium giving testimony to Brazil’s soccer greatness. To visit the pitch costs about 10 Reals (£1= 10BRL); initially I didn’t want go, but now I’m really glad I went there, and would have kicked myself if I hadn’t.

SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN is another popular destination, it is on a peninsular overlooking Guanabara Bay and there are two cable cars that take you up to the top. First you can stop off at Morro da Urca where you can see some wild monkeys and possible to take a helicopter ride either around the city or across to Christ the Redeemer. [NB my personal favourite.] Then a further 5 minute ride up to Sugar Loaf, that has wonderful panoramic views of Rio, as well as scenes of where the James Bond movie ‘Moonraker’ was set.

Accommodations:
Ipenema Inn
Ipenema Inn
From the international airport it takes around an hour to reach the heart of the city by bus. If travelling to one of many popular hotels the bus will drop you right in front of your hotel.

I spent 1 night at the Grand Canada, a pleasant economical hotel with lovely tiled floors in Copacabana Beach, but decided to change locations to Ipanema Beach. I went to a little more upmarket hotel and rented a penthouse suite – they said it had a ‘sea view’ but I beg to differ. Nonetheless it was nice having a balcony; once getting back to the room, sitting there with a Ciparini - this was really what life should be like for more than 4 weeks of the year.

In Ipanema there are so many nice hotels like Hotel Everest, Praia Ipanema Hotel and Sol Ipanema, which is only a block away from Garoto de Ipanema and across the road from Posto 9 on the beach, the place where many of the so-called "beautiful" people like to hang-out.

Nightlife:
Morro da Urca
Morro da Urca
Rio is the party capital of Brazil and there are many clubs around depending on your flavour. I stopped in Copacabana Palace as it’s a landmark hotel, and at times it brings together the poor and wealthy of Rio as every one is just enjoying themselves. It’s located on one of the most used thoroughfares – Avenida Atlantic just across the street from Copacabana Beach. I ended up at a reggae beach party which was amazing and it had a great carnival atmosphere. Now that’s what I call Rio.

Hangouts:
Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer
As mentioned previously Ipanema is the place to stay, and if you are there, you should visit the most famous bar - Garota de Ipanema, famed for being the setting of where Tom Jobim was inspired to write the song ‘Girl from Ipanema’.

Garota de Ipanema is considered a bohemian bar with large open windows which brings the outside atmosphere inside - it’s a place to see and be seen in. It has two rooms, upstairs there is live music with a bar and downstairs is the restaurant.

As you can image the bar gets really busy, so if you want to eat, it’s better to call ahead and make a reservation. It is located on Vinicius de Morais Road, which is named after the other co-writers of the song.

Restaurants:
Rio de Janeiro travelogue picture
Churrascarias is Portuguese for Barbecue which is something you have to try in Rio. They tend to be ‘pay by the weight’ or ‘eat as much as you want’ style restaurants; and basically they prepared various types of barbeque meats (and fish) which are all fantastic, (well if you are not a vegetarian). You pay a set prices that gives you access to the salad bar (including desert); then they give you a plate and a disc, this disc has a head and tail; face up means bring more food and tails up means stop now. Every time they finish cooking some meat or fish they will stop at your table until you turn your disc over.

This type of restaurant can be really cheap or expensive, depending on what you want; working on the same principle just with better quality food. Try washing it down with a Guanara soft drink, it’s very refreshing and everyone was drinking it. I paid 19.99 BRL (mid-range) and was completely stuffed when I left. It is a great Brazilian experience.

Other recommendations:
Rio Cathedral
Rio Cathedral
Try Santa Teresa for a fun day out; take the trolley car or ‘bondes’ [pronounced as bonjees] from the steps of Rio’s Cathedral. The bondes run along the Arcos da Lapa which is a converted aqueduct to the very attractive area of Santa Teresa. It is a lovely part of the city, great to sit around and drink coffee and it is said that many of its residential are musician and artists. .

LARGO DE CARIOC, the lagoon can be a nice place for cycling around and occasionally stopping off for a coffee. There are also a lot of cold coconut waters vendors.

Finally, I recommend that anyone who travels to Rio should take a white knuckle ride on a public bus, it’s completely exhilarating or hair raising experience. The bus speeds through the streets, as you hang on for dear life; and inevitable you end up in a traffic jam, which is usually caused by an accident. To say that they are crazy drivers is an underestimation.

Published on Wednesday August 17th, 2005


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Sun, Jan 08 2006 - 11:26 PM rating by njg123

Great report! I'm glad to hear that you had a safe trip by following some basic rules.

Sat, Dec 17 2005 - 06:00 AM rating by marianne

Wxcellent report, makes me want to go there.

Marianne

Wed, Aug 24 2005 - 09:17 PM rating by italian-link

Hi Amanda,
Excellent report on Rio....having been there myself about 4 years ago, I agree with everything you say. It is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is extremely beautiful.

Take care,
Larry

Fri, Aug 19 2005 - 04:54 PM rating by jimmyb

Le magnifque!

Thu, Aug 18 2005 - 10:52 AM rating by bear495

You continue to write marvelous reports. It is my pleasure to have a friend like you.

Russ

Thu, Aug 18 2005 - 05:38 AM rating by davidx

Probably the best thing I've read on Rio.

Thu, Aug 18 2005 - 05:04 AM rating by britman

Excellent feature - brought back all my own memories of the world's most spectacular city.

Thu, Aug 18 2005 - 12:06 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

very nice report

Wed, Aug 17 2005 - 11:47 PM rating by rangutan

Rio just like I know it! I now remember those restaurants again, also the one meter pizzas!

Wed, Aug 17 2005 - 09:52 PM rating by eirekay

Misty - wonderful report! Everyone should have a couple white knuckle bus rides!

Eire

Wed, Aug 17 2005 - 08:48 PM rating by jwmarkham

A really nice report on Rio! It is one of my "dream" destinations. I have been hesitant to go there, because several friends have warned me about crime problems. But it sounds from your report, that common sense precautions are what 's needed. I was also cautioned about the poverty level. I have encountered that in Mexico and Turkey, to some extent. It is always heart breaking. But your report is an encouragement. Maybe I should just throw my hands in the air, and wave them like I just don't care, and start planning my trip to Rio!

Thanks for the report!

James

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