Posted on July 13, 2015
Life in Rio
After an exhausting 12 hour flight we arrived in Rio at 9:30am and jumped into a taxi for a crazy 45 minute ride across town to our apartment in the Copacabana neighborhood. Our apartment is simple, yet sufficient and just 4 blocks off the beach. There are lots of shops, grocery stores and restaurants around as well which makes daily life convenient and easy.
For our first full day in Rio we took the local city bus to Sugar Loaf Mountain and rode the cable car to the top. Absolutely stunning 360° views of Rio and the Atlantic ocean and a perfect place to enjoy our picnic lunch. Later that evening we visited a small restaurant called Braseiro for some authentic Brazilian food. The place is very small and you sit at a round counter that wraps around the kitchen. Service is straightforward and delicious and well worth it! Be prepared to eat lots and lots of meat in Brazil. Along with rice, black beans, and french fries you often get a large steak with a side of sausage for dinner! Sorry vegetarians, not many vegetables here.
Per recommendation, we booked a tour with Rio Adventures and were lucky to get a fantastic guide named Fernando. He spoke excellent English and had an endless supply of local information, history and jokes. Our first stop was at the top of Corcovado mountain where we visited Christ the Redeemer Statue. This massive statue stands 125 feet tall and 88 feet hand-to-hand and was built as a tourist attraction to make money for the Catholic Church! Kinda takes aways some of the magic knowing they just built it to make money, but still totally worth seeing.
Next we drove through the Parque Nacional da Tijuca Forest, stopping at various overlooks to take in the breathtaking views. We were lucky enough to come across a few curious monkeys and fed them a banana we had in our bag. Such funny little creatures.One of our favorite stops of the tour was at the Taunay Waterfall. A hidden gem deep inside the park and a refreshing spot to get out of the hot sun. Fernando offered to take us out to lunch at a friend’s restaurant and so of course we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Aaron had a traditional Brazilian meal called feijoada which is a bean stew prepared with black beans a variety of beef products, such as smoked sausage and jerked beef (loin and tongue) and some other unidentified parts of meat. It looked kinda gross but he claims it tasted pretty good. Not really my thing as I enjoyed a nice, safe, meal of chicken, rice and beans.
A trip to Rio wouldn’t be complete without seeing the nightlife at least once and so we headed out to the neighborhood of Lapa. This area is known for its samba music, nightlife and young vibe. It took us 45 minutes by bus to get there but had a fun evening people watching and hoping around between different bars listening to live music. Of course we had to have a traditional capharinia drink while in Rio!
Another must do while in Rio was to spend the day at the beach. We ended up finding a great spot at Ipanema Beach and relaxed all afternoon in the sun. The water was a bit cold for swimming but felt nice after being in the sun. The people watching on the beach was eye opening. The term “bathing suit” is very loosely interpreted! Skin, skin, and more skin everywhere. We felt like conservative Mormons in our suits! Not sure I can convince Aaron to buy a smaller suit but I’m sure going to try! hahaha.
It is a strange mix of big city and beach town here in Rio. You can be walking down the street next to a businessman wearing a full suit and the guy next to him is in a speedo, no shoes or shirt and carrying a surfboard. Women are more confident and comfortable in their own skin and don’t seem to mind if they aren’t a perfect size 2. Confidence really is the best accessory. Maybe women in the U.S. should take a lesson from these Brazilian woman.
To celebrate our final evening in Rio we had dinner at Churrascaria Carretao a Brazilian Steakhouse. A meat lover’s paradise, they use the ‘more-no more’ coin where if you want more meat, just flip the coin green and magicly a server appears with a skewer and a large carving knife to slice off amazing cuts of prime beef, pork and chicken. Before the meal, as sides, they brought olives, tiny eggs, onion rings, garlic bread, french fries, onion and tomato salad, sausage, and a few other things we couldn’t identify. They also have a salad bar. Not just any salad bar, an over the top, pasta salad, sushi, grilled veggie, roasted potatoes, paella, corn salad, hummus and pita, olives, quiche, and baked chicken smorgasbord. Wow, how are these next to every Starbucks in the US?
All in all a great city with lots to do and see. Our only complaints are the illegal sewer connections that hit you like a ton of bricks with unimaginable smells every once in a while when walking the streets, the waist high concrete posts randomly placed on the sidewalks to keep bikers off but have a magnetic effect to my knees, the elementary school next door to our apartment which has a bell that lasts a solid 37 seconds, and lastly who would have thought there would be roosters in the city! Come on so annoying in the morning. Tomorrow we leave the city for the island of Illha Grande and we are looking forward to a nice change of pace.