Rio de Janerio – Cidade Maravilhosa (The Marvelous City) earns its name without a doubt! Being surrounded by gorgeous mountains with spectacular views of the Corcovado (hunchback) and Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) from all around the city, people watching on the world famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, dancing the night away on the streets of Lapa to the seductive sounds of samba bands have proven that this city has it all.
We arrived in Rio late on a Monday afternoon. With the warm welcoming breeze came the realization that most of the layers of clothing we had on needed shedding quickly and we were happy to embrace the gorgeous autumn evening Rio was hugging us with. So long London and it’s crappy weather!
WHERE WE STAYED
When searching for accommodation in Rio, the safety of the location was our main concern after hearing some horror stories from people who had been here before.
Ipanema & Leblon are the safest areas, offering a posh style of living with its trendy young residents (cariocas). However the prices have sky-rocketed in the last couple of years making it difficult for nomads like us to afford on a strict budget. After looking around at a few alternatives I came across an article on Trip Advisor suggesting the suburb called Urca so I booked Hotelinho de Urca. Now, I can’t recommend highly enough.
We had the best room with a sea view, facing the Corcovado Mountain, on which Christ the Redeemer is planted. Sugar Loaf Mountain was right behind us and we were also glad to see a police station right outside the front door.
THE FIRST FEW DAYS
For our first venture out into the city we headed straight to Ipanema Beach to soak up some much needed sunshine and immediately found it hard not to stare when we were surrounded by one of the sexiest populations on this planet! You can imagine the self esteem issues we had after a day on the beach 🙂 The guys were all tanned and muscular and the girls were gorgeous and wearing skimpy thongs – the classic Rio look.
About a 10 minute walk inland from the beach is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (lagoon) which offers a tranquil escape from the bustling streets of Ipanema. It’s a great place unwind and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset there.
Around the other side of the lagoon, nestled at the foot of Corcovado mountain, is the Jardim Botanica (Botanical Gardens) with over 8000 plant species. Most of Rio feels like a big jungle and around there it really seems like it’s taking over the city. Walking around huge trees and enjoying the fresh air in the middle of a hectic city is a real treat.
The Madness takes over in Part 2…