I must confess! The sassy city of Rio de Janeiro has conquered a place in my heart like not many cities have done so far.
To start, it has everything I love about a city: warm sandy beaches, several mountains to climb for a view, romantic parks, relaxed coffee-shops and trendy boutique shops. But it is so much more then just that: it’s the beat of the music, the rhythm on the streets, the fresh taste of the coconut water sold in every hut by the beach, the warmth of it’s people’s heart. 5 days weren’t enough, well I don’t think I could ever get enough of this. And you ask, why am I not moving there right now?! Unfortunately it is not a very safe city (with the daily sad reality of street gun robbery that in fact is a problem across the big cities of Brazil). I personally don’t think I could live with that constant awareness of the imminent danger. Thankfully I had a trouble free visit with a few safety measures, which I will go into detail in another post.
For now I listed my favorite things to do in Rio:
1 – PARAGLIDING
Since I was little into my teenager years, I used to watch the brazilian soaps and daydream about paragliding in Rio like the actors I saw on TV. I used to say when I go there I will jump too. ** So the dream came true! **
I chose FlyAction Rio and jumped with friendly Érico Oliveira, brazilian champion of paragliding. It was adrenaline rush at first, but once in the air it was very very chilled. With the perfect weather the flight lasted almost 20minutes, which gave me plenty time to enjoy the view. A plus, in the end Érico gave me the SD card with all the photos from the Gopro stick. Hundreds of pictures and a full video was recorded.
2 – Lage Park
Do you know that feeling when you walk into a place that you instantly like, you pretend you can come back whenever you want and yet you stay as long as you can, admiring the beauty surrounding you…? I fell in love the moment I got in this little enchanted gem – Parque Lage, the perfect romantic getaway from the buzz of the streets. It is actually the school of Visual Arts and has a restaurant that serves deliciously beautiful meals.
3 – Stand-up paddling at Copacabana Beach
Do I need to say anything else? It is fun and relaxing! Plus you can paddle away from the beach and look back at the city or spend the morning diving and getting back on the board.
4 – Sunset at Arpoador
To watch this amazing nature phenomenon, the sunset, with the locals, get some snacks and a drink and head to Pedra do Arpoador (Arpoador Stone), located between Ipanema and Copacana Beach. Read how my day lead to a beautiful sunset here.
5 – Visit the Botanic Gardens
Located just 15 minutes walking distance from Parque Lage, is the Botanic Gardens. Only R$10 to explore the diverse green flora, with lakes and mini waterfalls. Also, look for these little monkeys…
6 – Climb to Pão-de-Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) for an awesome view
Take the two bondinhos, the typical cable car to climb up to Pão-de-Açucar. My advice, aim for the golden hour.
7 – And climb to Christ Redeemer for another panoramic perspective…
The view from the feet of Christ Redeemer is breath taking. However it was so crowded when I visited that I felt frustrated above all, being unable to take it easy and feel the place without being squeezed and pushed around. So my advice is go super early, specially if the weather is clear and the Christ doesn’t have the head in the clouds 🙂
8 – Go up n’ down, down n’ up the Selaron Steps
These colorful funky steps were built over two decades by the Chilean-born Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the brazilian people. Given the variety of colors do I need to say how much I loved this place?!
9 – Icecreams of Ipanema
Between the lake and the sea, while strolling the streets of Ipanema, I found these two ice-cream shops and I kept coming back for more: “Mil Frutas” and “Venchi”. This last one is an italian brand but both offer a great variety of flavors, including some typical brazilian deserts such as brigadeiro and amazonian fruits.
Speaking of amazonian fruits… Have you tried Açaí? An amazonian berry smoothie that in fact it is better eaten with a spoon, so filling and above all – it is super healthy!
10 – What if it rains?!
Rio can have cloudy and rainy days, who would believe it?!. I had a couple of days that were appropriate to look for a shopping center and explore the brazilian boutiques. When you shopped till you nearly dropped grab a fruit caipirinha. Feeling like a kiwi one?! hmmmm delicious…