The first thing we did when arriving in Rio was to strip off our winter jackets: even at night it was about 30 degrees warmer than in Rome, where we had departured from. We spoiled ourselves with staying in a hotel right at the Copacabana.
Our first day in Rio was pronounced a lazy beach day on which we thoroughly compared the two most loved beaches of Rio: Copacabana and Ipanema. Our evaluation included various parameters: the beach itself, the color of the ocean, the waves, the views and of course the frequency of Caipirinha sellers asking if we needed a refill. We prefered Ipanema (just like most locals do) but we advise everyone to make his own judgment. The lazy beach day was perfectly rounded off with enjoying a marvelous sunset on Ipanema beach. People here love their sunsets and applaud the sun when it does a good job with coloring the sky in all shades of gold, red, orange and yellow. Trusting the advice of some locals, we set out to hike up the “Trilha Dois Irmãos” the next morning. In order to do so, we took a bus to Vidigal, but somehow ended up in Rocinha, one of the largest Favelas in Brazil. Luckily however, with a little help of some friendly Cariocas (as locals are called here), we made our way to Vidigal, where we switched to another local transport system: motor taxis. For R$5 which equals about €2, some guys provided us with a helmet and brought us up through the Favela to where the hike begins. My driver took me on a nice and relaxed sightseeing tour, trotting behind Lisa’s and Patrick’s fast and furious bikers. Eventually though, we all arrived and started our way up the path to the top. After 45 minutes, we could enjoy a stunning view over the “marvelous city”.
In the afternoon, we explored the charming districts Lapa and Santa Teresa where we had a typical Brazilian dinner, followed by a couple of typical Brazilian drinks. During the next days we got to enjoy some more stunning views from the Corvcovado and the Sugarloaf Mountain.
Another highlight was of course the “carnaval”. Despite that locals our age prefer carnival parties in Lapa to the famous parade in the Sambódromo, we had to go see this spectacle first hand. Thus we dressed up appropriately ridiculous and made our way there. For those who forget to buy tickets in advance, our advice is to team up with a local who knows whom to ask in some darker street in order to arrange some tickets at a fair black market price. The atmosphere in the Sambódromo was hypnothising, as were the costumes and passionate carnival dancers. We stayed at the Sambódromo till the break of dawn, and left only when we were exhausted enough from all the impressions and sambamoves to make sure we would sleep during most of the busride the next day. It took us to São Sebastiao, the port to Ilhabela.
When in Rio de Janeiro:
Where to sleep: Copacabana Sol Hotel – friendly staff, perfectly located and great breakfast.
Where to enjoy: Luciano Drinks at Ipanema beach – they make the sunset even more stunning.
Where to eat & drink: Bar do Minero in Santa Teresa for a typical dinner.
What to do in Rio off the beaten track: Hike to Trilha Dois Irmãos – an amazing view point that is definitely worth the effort.
Here are some highlights captured during our stay in Rio de Janeiro: