A long, long time ago, I can still remember… (it wasn’t that long ago actually) … I stopped by Rio de Janeiro for 3 days. And it was awesome!
Reaching the hostel situation
Rio de Janeiro was my last stop in the South America coast-to-coast expedition and it exceeded all my expectations through its beauty and energy, A city that never seems to sleep, Rio was exactly what I needed to end the trip on a high note.
I reached Rio in the evening, and I soon as I stepped out of the airport I was surrounded by a dozen of taxi drivers wanting to take me to my hostel for a “special” price. Word of caution for taking a taxi in Rio, depending on the time of the day or evening the charges change. There are two rates: Rate 1 from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. Monday through Saturday and Rate 2 from 9 P.M. to 6 A.M. and all day Sunday. However, I would not advise taking a taxi from the airport because reliable and cheaper public transportation is available to reach the majority of areas. Also notable is the fact that Uber is in a very grey area with its authorization in Rio. It is possible to hail a Uber, however it doesn’t seem to be entirely legal…
For my time in Rio, I stayed at the amazing Walk on the Beach hostel in Copacabana, a place I would go back to in a heartbeat. The hostel is very clean and well organized, the staff extremely friendly and helpful, and the location just speaks for itself. At the time I didn’t have much energy to go out and party, so I mostly took advantage of the hostels bar and patio where they make some pretty yummy caipirinhas.
Beaching and shopping away
I spent my first day in Rio exploring Copacabana and doing some shopping. Although middle of winter (July), the weather was just perfect for walking around in flip-flops. My first stop was of course the beach, because Rio… I took a beach walk from Copacabana all the way to Leblon and it was quite refreshing as the breeze balanced the afternoon heat. I wasn’t brave enough to check out the ocean very closely as winter in Brazil means cold water, but burying my feet in the cool sand gave me a pretty satisfying feeling.
I was pleasantly surprised with my shopping experience in Copacabana. Most of the stores in this area have an authentic feel to it and their styles and colourful patterns can make a good addition to any woman’s wardrobe. Also, the quality of the materials is extremely good. I still wear the clothes I bought here almost 2 years ago.
Get all touristy
Due to time constrains, I opted for a half day tour to see all the tourist attractions that are usually on a visitor’s list to Rio.
The first stop was Christ the Redeemer, the iconic art deco statue at the top of Corcovado mountain in the Tujuca Forest National Park. Interesting fact about the forest is that this is version 2.0 as the original one was cleared and replaced with coffee and sugar plantations. Once the people of Rio figured out that this was a terrible idea, initiatives were put in place to rebuild the forest. Major Manuel Gomes Archer led these initiatives in the second half of the 19th century and we have him to thank for today’s forest.
Although cloudy at the top, the ride back down from the mountain allowed for some pretty nice views of the city.
The next notable stop of the tour was Escadaria Selarón, the famous tiled steps which connect the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighbourhoods. As the driver took us through the Santa Teresa neighbourhood to get there, I felt like this was the colourful Rio de Janeiro I had been expecting.
The 250 steps making the stairwell are decorated with tiles from over 60 countries and this work of art was Jorge Selarón’s “tribute to Brazilian people”. As one of the most popular places to visit in Rio, it is quite crowded and due to its location not the safest place. However, it is worth seeing it.
Next stop on the tour was the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro which features an unusual architectural style for a cathedral, having been inspired by the Mayan pyramids. The outside of the cathedral doesn’t seem to make any promises and I wasn’t sure what to think about it. The inside however, was a wonderful surprise as its gorgeous stained glass refracts just the perfect amount of light to generate a peaceful twilight feeling.
The last stop on the tour was the Sugarloaf mountain that we reached in perfect timing for the sunset. All I can say is that the view from there was breathtaking making it one best sunsets I’ve ever seen!
As a last note, I really want to mention the Hippie Fair in Ipanema that takes places on Sundays from around 10 am until evening. It is a very cool market with a large selection of art, jewelry, souvenirs and anything else that can be handcrafted. This is the place where I bought my black leather “good for anything” purse for an extremely reasonable price. In two years this purse has travelled the world with me from North America to Europe to Asia, has see mountains, deserts, and beaches and has carried my work and leisure stuff like a pro. Today, the purse is still as strong as the day I bought it! So, thank you Hippie Fair!
As the Summer Olympics in Rio are approaching I became a little bit nostalgic about this place. I wish I would have had more time to throughly explore everything this city has to offer including more food, dancing, beaches, and hikes. I have it on my list to return and I sure hope it will be soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue looking through the pictures and pretend I was there only yesterday.