Arriving in Rio – Leaving GIG airport was an absolute breeze; picked up our bags and we were in a taxi within half an hour! To say the taxi journey to our hotel was quite the experience would be an understatement – our first ride was definitely an insight into the craziness of the roads of Rio. We also learnt that due to safety reasons, at night taxis don’t seem to stop at traffic lights – and they certainly don’t follow normal driving rules… in other words, it’s every man for himself. After a long day of travel, we arrived at our hotel and went straight to bed to catch some z’s.
Day 1 – After an interesting breakfast, ranging from scrambled eggs to chocolate covered cakes, we had a quick look round the hotel. On first impressions, the rooftop bar / pool looked amazing and the views were pretty spectacular too – Copacabana beach to one side and a favela on the other (what a contrast!). Once we’d finished admiring our home for the next three days, we decided to make the most of the warm, sunny weather and head off to Christ the Redeemer, one of Brazil’s most renowned sights. Whilst it wasn’t the easiest place to get to, after a taxi and two minibuses, we made it to the top and WOW – the 360 degree views of Rio were quite something and the weather was clearly on our side as the views were completely undisrupted. Despite the restrictions getting to the statue and the large crowds at the top, it is a definite must-do when in Rio.
We returned to the hotel after a few hours exploring, spent a little time by the pool, before deciding we needed to make the most of the fantastic (albeit unpredictable) weather, so headed off to see the sights from Sugarloaf Mountain. We thought we’d seen the best panoramic views of Rio from Christ the Redeemer, however we were quickly proven wrong – Sugarloaf Mountain isn’t the highest rated thing to do in Rio for nothing!! The views from both levels of the mountains were truly amazing and the smaller crowds made it so much more appealing to us! Although our plan was to watch the sunset from Sugarloaf, the clouds had a different idea, so we headed back to Copacabana for dinner, a few yummy caipirinhas and an early night (travelling really took it out of us!!).
Day 2 – Woke up to a cloudy, yet incredibly humid day in Rio but we knew we had to embrace the weather (chances of rain and all). First item on our agenda was to visit Copacabana beach. The beach was beautiful, even with all the cloud, and still very busy! A bit of bad weather clearly doesn’t bother the Brazilians. We quickly learnt that the weather is very quick changing as the rain started. As sitting on the beach in the rain is something you can do in England, we decided to head back to the hotel. The sun came out shortly after so we spent some time that day by the pool, only leaving the hotel grounds to explore the Copacabana area and for lunch at a lovely, traditional Brazilian restaurant, Barraca da Chiquita. We had some fritters and pastels (Brazilian appetisers), served by a very enthusiastic waiter who was eager to show off his English, despite our poor attempts to communicate in Portuguese! To end the day, we treated ourselves to some lovely caprivodkas at the rooftop bar.
Day 3 – After doing a relative amount of research the day prior, we opted for an early start to visit the Escadaria Selarón (due to big crowds later in the day) and the Mural Etnias do artista Kobra. After reading reviews of both areas sitting close to favelas, we were both skeptical of visiting but it was such a pleasant surprise. The colourful stairs sit at the bottom of a favela entrance but we didn’t once feel threatened or out of place, as long as you have your wits about you, there should be no issues. The stairs itself were beautiful, so colourful and containing symbols of every country – some would say the perfect photo opportunity! After a quick photo session on the stairs and observing some nearby graffiti artwork, we headed off to the murals. We had read these were the largest murals in the world, but we didn’t realise quite how big until we saw them in person. They were incredible. So bright and vibrant – some amazing artwork that must be viewed if nearby!!
After an early start and a busy morning, we got a taxi from the murals to the hotel before heading back out. The return taxi again provided such a great example of how quickly the weather changes. From the pouring rain by the murals, to the blazing sun at Copacabana – changing within the distance of an underpass tunnel. When we arrived back at the hotel, we grabbed our swim stuff in the hope of going for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean – that idea was quickly revoked due to the crazy big surf!! Instead we took the chance to wander along the coast to Copacabana Palace, what a beautiful building – shame about the sky high room prices (maybe one day…)!! The rest of the day was spent walking around and exploring Copacabana and eating Brazilian food – YUM!
Early flight kicked off day 4 of our travels. What an amazing time we’ve had in Rio de Janeiro, the city certainly exceeded our high expectations and has given us a great taste of South America. What a shame to be leaving so soon but exciting times ahead.
Next stop – Mexico. Updates to follow… 🇲🇽