You should probably play this song whilst you read this. It’ll set the scene.
I popped over to Rio on the way home from Argentina as it seemed like a good idea since we were ‘up that neck of the woods’. Well, we didn’t really check any maps before we booked the flights and hotel. It’s actually a bit far. For example, the rainforest (or what’s left of it) in Brazil is the size of Australia. So it’s a pretty big country. We took a detour through Iguassu Falls to break it up a bit but it was probably about 4 hours on a plane to get there.
We spent 3 glorious days in Rio and though we had end-of-a-long-trip-can’t-do-any-more-tourist-stuff inertia and just lolled about for the most part, I still have some good travel wisdom to impart should you consider visiting Rio.
P.S. Before I start, I’m a bit paranoid about getting mugged/kidnapped in places like South America so you can take my advice with a pinch of salt. I didn’t get mugged or kidnapped though, so, y’know, whatever.
My favourite food was Pão de Queijo | It’s nothing special to be honest, but when you’re abroad and you ran out of gluten-free breadrolls a week ago, wheat free bread it THE BEST THING. Brazil were quite late to the wheat party so you’ll find that their cuisine contains a lot of alternatives such as cassava flour which these little balls of doughy cheese bread are made from. I’m told you can buy halloumi on sticks and coconut water in coconuts on the beach but I was too lazy to look for it (I know that sounds terrible but I was a bit under the weather).
My favourite restaurant was Garota de Ipanema | Named after the very famous sultry jazz song ‘Girl from Ipanema’ this restaurant is awesome. The portions are ridiculous. As big as your head (if you had a massive head). Much like Argentines, Brazillians like their steak or just any meat really. It’s pretty impossible to avoid on the menu. There’s such a great atmosphere in the restaurant, a guy was playing bongos like a pro outside and our waiter was nuts. Imagine a peewee Herman type voice saying ‘Bey-bey bey-bey bey-bey oh yeah! I’m Justin Barber! (sic)’. He was a legend. Anyway, go there it’s a nice restaurant.
My favourite beach was Copacabana | I really thought I was an Ipanema kinda gal but Copa is just better. They are both nice but I felt a bit more on holiday on Copa. There’s a wider mix of people. Here’s a view from my hotel room
Christ the Redeemer is pretty cool as statues go, but you need to time it right and visit when it’s clear. It’s REALLY busy and a bit stressful when you get to the top so don’t worry if you only get to see it from the ground (or a 37th floor rooftop pool which is loads better to be honest).
Rio is a beautiful and very modern city but it’s also riddled with poverty. You can see the favelas in the main image at the top of this post. They are the shanty towns that most locals reside in and they’re everywhere. As it’s a tourist trap and there are a lot of poor people, crime is an inevitability. People need to get by and I kind of don’t blame them, but make sure you’re not a target.
- Don’t carry a bag around if you can help it – seriously – hardly anyone does
- Don’t dress up too fancy or wear expensive jewelery, everyone wears flips flops (Havianas really are the most comfortable).
- Avoid back streets at night (obvs)
- Order a taxi from your hotel or hostel if you can. Many taxis that are fake are cheaper and usually quite safe but you’re better off in a legit cab
- Water is a bit of a commodity and can be expensive. It’s easier to buy beer and fizzy drinks when you’re out and about so bring some with you. It’s SO hot and the water will go warm really quickly but you will be amazed how quickly you dehydrate
Don’t worry this doesn’t spoil the trip just mind how you go and you’ll have the best time. The atmosphere in the evening on the sea front is amazing, so much music, activity, people skating past, dancing, cooking a barbecue – it’s amazing.
Pão de Queijo Photo : flickr.com/photos/skrb
All other photography and video copyright Annie MQ