Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city nestled between ocean and mountains. A place known for it’s breathtaking views, laid-back beach attitude, the carnival, and great soccer; although the 2014 WorldCup was a devastating experience for Brazilians and other fans.

I was a bit skeptical while in the taxi from airport to hotel, the ride was lacking the views I had anticipated… Something very common for the majority of places since airports are far from city centers. Regardless; I was anxious to see some sign of Rio, but also enjoying my conversation with the driver. Taxi drivers are the pulse of the city anywhere you go. Then suddenly he points out the window, and there it was…Christ the Redeemer appeared in the far distance, then a favela, and finally the mountains and beaches as they come together in perfect harmony..I was mesmerized by seeing how buildings and  mountains amicably share space, especially by how favelas are crawling up the mountains. Its a cluster of houses painted in vibrant colors that stand out to make a statement, as a way to smile amidst adversity.

Nature is always my healer, and it definetely contributed to my loving for this place. I’ve had a longing for Brazil since childhood, a nostalgic yearning for unknown reasons. I now had all of Rio within reach…Checked in, switched gears into a beach-life-mode, and headed across the street. Completely amazed, sat on the sand contemplating the ocean, the mountains, taking it all in…I was so in that moment, so aware, and filled with immense gratitude for it being part of my journey. I felt relieved, I was finally there living a long awaited dream. All this while hydrating myself with coconut water from a sidewalk kiosk. I’m not a drinker, but won’t be hesitant to drink a real caipirinha either…:)  What do locals do? is the first thing I try to investigate, and somewhat follow them to the town eateries, bars, or any place they recommend.

The road alongside the beach is pedestrian and bicycle friendly. A great place for morning walks and great sunrises offering jaw-dropping views to recharge your energy. I started talking to a group of friends that were sitting on the sand drinking beer, to the sounds of a guitar and singing “Eu Preciso de voce” by Maria Bethania. This was the perfect scenery, it spelled Brazil all over it, certainly an excellent beginning. I started a conversation in -Portu-ñol- my version of portuguese and spanish..:) At first they thought I was Brazilian because I was wearing bikinis with their flag..I mentioned that I’ve always worn their style bikinis and so on, and couldn’t help but notice how none of the ladies mentioned anything about weight, shape, etc..They seemed so confortable in their own skin; totally oblivious to that matter, something that I applaud. My new found friends suggested where to eat around the neighborhood, and also drank one of their Brahma beers. Three hours had passed unnoticed until the orange skies of the sunset appeared.

There’s plenty to see in Brazil. The taxi driver mentioned how nowadays some favelas are equipped with line-cars for easier access to visitors, a better chance to embrace their culture and see magnificent views of Rio.The government is pretty active in keeping the city safe, but it’s always safer to travel with a local guide.

The Rocinha shantytown is in São Conrado neighborhood.  São Conrado is between Zona Sul itself and Barra. In Barra you find good hotels for less, but you need a car or a guide/driver as I prefer. Barra is not side-by-side with other Zona Sul neighborhoods.

Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Botafogo, etc.. are almost one long contiguous area and excellent for walking. It depends on what one prefers in regards to size of accommodation or easy circulation, and doing more stuff on foot. Ipanema has a great hippie market on Sundays as well.

I was able to travel around Rio, eat at local restaurants, visit main attractions as Corcovado, Pao de açucar, museums, and local beaches with the help of  Ronaldo, my local guide in Rio. He’s a gentleman, someone you can trust. Ronaldo also has a valid guide permit which exempts him from making all the long lines. I highly recommend him, feel free to reach out.

I loved Brazil, a place with grand views that conquer anyone’s heart, and a reminder of the remarkable beauty of Nature.

Muito Obrigada Brasil..

http://www.brazil.org.za/museums-and-galleries.html#.UhT_xuAXKN8