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 Presenting the Marvelous City: Rio de Janeiro

World Cup Brazil 2014

 A Host City of World Cup Brazil 2014 and the 2016 Olympics

 

Christ the Redeemer

 
 

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

Tiradentes Palace

Tiradentes Palace

Botanico Garden

Botanico Garden

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janerio

Ipanema

Photos:

 Brazil-Travelnet

Botafogo, Christ Statue, Tiradentes Palace, Ipanema, Botanico Garden, Aerial view - courtesy of Embratur      by: Christian Knepper

Christ the Redeemer

 

The first image that comes to mind when Brazil is mentioned is one of Rio de Janeiro and its statue of Christ the Redeemer. That pretty much shows how appealing this city, famous in songs, in movies and in books is. The Marvelous City, Cidade Marvilhosa, has a magical hold on people.

Rio de Janeiro is enchanting. Legend has it that Rio’s lovely coastline was made by the hand of God, but on that day he was especially inspired. The Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer, the beaches and, nowadays, even the shanty towns are big attractions in Rio de Janeiro. This city is, undoubtedly, the number one Brazil travel destination.

Botafogo in Rio
                                                                                                            Botafogo

Rio's Carnival - A Unique Show

Rio de Janeiro hosts what Brazilians like to call “The Biggest Show on Earth”, and it might just be. Millions of people invade the city and its clubs of samba (escolas de samba) during Carnival. Culminating in a parade that is broadcasted live to the entire planet.

It is a festival for everybody. For the rich and famous like Barbara Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger - who have attended and enjoyed the samba - as well as for the simple people of the hills who actually create, produce and perform at the festival.

The Cultural Heritage

Until 1961, when Brasilia was built, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. The city still carries the grand colonial architecture that can be seen in Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Art Museum), the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) and Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theatre).

Plan on visiting the city’s famous landmarks on the first days so, after that, you have time to enjoy the beaches, the sun andaerial_view_rio the relaxed Carioca(1) way of life. Take the tram up to the Sugar Loaf, visit the Christ statue, and take a walk on Copacabana beach.

Schedule a night to dance samba in one of the escolas de samba of the city. A good choice would be Estacao Primeira de Mangueira, one of the most traditional and popular schools of Samba in Rio de Janeiro, located in a safe part of the city.

Getting around

Subway - It is easy to get around in Rio de Janeiro. You can use the Subway, that  is modern and fast. Subway and buses have a "integration system". You buy one ticket and use it for one subway and one bus trip. Get a Subway map and information in any  subway station.

Bus - Buses are also good. Bus drivers usually go a little too fast, but so does everybody in Rio. You just have to get used to it. Buses go by the numbers, not the destinations.

Taxi - It is not expensive. There are plenty of yellow taxis around, they are cheap and good alternative. Besides, this is one of your best chances to find a taxi driver that will understand a little English in Brazil.

Renting a car - Rent a car. If you are going to explore the outskirts, it is renting a car is a good. It is not that difficult to drive in Rio. Remember that Cariocas drive fast and you must pay attention to the cars ahead of you, most of all. Let the ones behind you worry about you.

Get a map and you'll see that it is not so difficult to drive around. Besides, if you get lost, using the same argument that we used about the taxi drivers, here is the place to ask for directions in English. Not that everyone will speak the language fluently, but some people know the basics.

Use paid parking lots to park. Rio is a big city and, unfortunately, not very safe.

Walk - Walk. Rio de Janeiro is beautiful and walking is going to be a pleasure. Walk along the coastline. Yeah, that one that God was inspired when he created it.

What to do in Rio?

This is a difficult one. Too many options. Lets start with the...

Beaches

The only beach we actually swmin in is Barra da Tijuca, towards the south. Barra is what we call "open ocean beach" and away from the city and its polluted waters. It is a great and clean beach. So, that's the only place we go into the water in the city and we love it.Barra da Tijuca Beach in Rio

Botafogo has one of the most classic views of Rio, with the Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay. But it is polluted. Badly. So, take in the view, take pictures, exercise your legs and move on.

Copacabana is great for a Coconut water, a beer or a (2)Caipirinha on the calçadão (sidewalk). There are a lot of kiosks along the beach, and many people walking or just talking. It is great for a morning walk.

In Ipanema you are going to see lots of different kinds of people as well as girls from Ipanema and from many other places. It is a long beach so as you walk along it, you are going to see surfers, foreigners, rich people and not so rich also. Also good for walking.

Like Botafogo, Leblon is not good for swimming either. Between two channels, it is polluted. But the bars and nightlife in Leblon are great.

Shopping

This is THE PLACE to buy bikinis. Brazilians did not invent them but bikinis, just like the Carnival and soccer, are also Brazilian masterpieces. No other city in the world has a better beach fashion than Rio de Janeiro. So, go for it! Take Brazilian bikinis to every girl you know back home. They are going to love it!

The Shopping Malls have sereral boutiques with lots of choices. The most chic of them is the Sao Conrado Fashion Mall, in Sao Conrado. The Barra Shopping Mall, in Barra da Tijuca,  is the largest in Latin America. There are a lot of stores in Ipanema and Leblon that carry a great variety of beach wear in general. So... shop around.

A nice option for shopping is Babilonia Feira Hype, in the Jockey Club, on weekends. Lots of great articles in clothes and decoration. For craft and leather objetcts, try the Feira Hippie (Hippie Open Fair).

Bars (Botecos)

Hanging out with friends in bars is part of Cariocas' way of life. They don't go to botecos so much to drink, but to talk, get together, relax. The bars' snacks are great in Rio. And if you fancy drinks once in a while, try a Caipirinha.

Soccer

Brazil is the country of soccer. And Rio de Janeiro is home to one of the largest stadium in the world: Estadio Mario Filho, popularly known as Maracana. It was especially built for the 1950 World Cup hosted by Brazil. Unfortuntely we lost the championship to Uruguay. One of the saddest moments in the successful Brazil's Soccer History.

Anyway, where were we? Ok. Maracana. Go and watch a match at this epic stadium and feel the fire and magic of Brazilian soccer.

What to visit in the Marvelous city

This another tough one. We can give some suggestions and you can plan according to what you have always "dreamed" of visiting and what your time allows.

There are other options that you can find out about  when you get here. Maybe they will suit you better.

Some of the most touristy attractions are crowded, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf. But the view pays off. Again, it is all up to you.

Christ the Redeemer

Sugar Loaf

Walk on Copacabana

Jardim Botanico (Botanic Garden - a park)

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - (Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon)

Mosteiro de Sao Bento (Sao Bento Monaster)

Go to the rehearsal of a escola de samba

General Information

You are on vacation, right? Rio is a beach city and people like to dress informally. With that in mind, pack some shorts, very few jeans, T-shirts and when you get there buy some Havaianas. Sugar Loaf TramThey are the most comfortable flip flops on Earth. They are the official beach sandals in Brazil. Take a light jacket because the air conditioner may be too high sometimes.

When to go

It depends on what you want to do. Carnival is fantastic. New Year's Eve has one of the biggest fireworks display of the date. And it is on Copacabana beach. It is so warm, you can go into the sea. Wow! That's a way of spending New Year's Eve.

Summer is from December to March, but it is hot in Rio  de Janeiro from September to April. And warm during the winter, from June to September. It is never really cold from Rio de Janeiro and upwards in the Brazilian coast.

December and January are school vacation months in Brazil. So the beaches are full of Brazilians vacationing. Prices go up everywhere. Hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions get crowed.

What to do in Rio after Rio?

The state of Rio de Janeiro has other great destinations not very far away from the city of Rio de Janeiro. Other appealing towns in Rio's state are Buzios, Paraty and Angra dos Reis.

And if you like action during night time, take advantage of one of the best night entertainment cities in Brazil. Enjoy the Marvelous City.

_________________________________

  (1) Carioca- native from the city of Rio de Janeiro.

  (2) Caipirinha - Traditional and popular Brazilian drink made of Cachaca (Brazilian liquor produced from Sugar Cane). The most traditional is Caipirinha de Limao (lime), but nowadays you can pretty much drink a Caipirinha of any fruit. It can also be made with Vodka and then it is called Caipiroska and of Rum - Caipirissima. These days, some places make Capisake, from the Japanese liquor Sake.

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