Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A city known for it’s caipirinhas, bossa nova music, beautiful beaches, annual carnival, women in thongs, poverty and corruption, and a people with a fanatical lifelong devotion to the sport of football. The city has inspired great music (The Girl From Ipanema) and internationally acclaimed films (City of God). One man, Roland Urbinati said of Rio, “What a place! You lose yourself . You find yourself.” Indeed.
It was a city that I just had to visit. So in March of 2010, I set off on my incredible journey. I spent 7 days enjoying the beaches of Ipanema, shopping in Leblon, touring historical sites, eating and drinking at incredible restaurants and cafes, and taking in the wonder and charm of the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
This photo essay is a tribute of my personal experience in Rio de Janeiro. To see even more photos of my visit to Rio de Janiero, view my Flickr photos.
For those who have already traveled there, may it invoke pleasant memories and a desire to return. For those of you longing to go, may it inspire to someday make a visit.
This is how my trip started – I arrived in Rio, bright and early one morning, checking into my hotel room that offered this glorious ocean view.
I took long walks along the beach to explore the neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema.
Rio is known for women in thongs right? Wrong. I saw very few women sporting the string-like contraptions. The locals claim they went out of style a long time ago. Sorry to disappoint you boys.
One of the things that I did love about the people of Rio was their lack of concern with their body image. Men and women, young and old, fit and good looking and ummm … not so fit and not so good looking, they were willing to “bare it all”. Bravo!
There were tons of these little stands along the beach serving beers and caipirinhas, with bands playing live music and people dancing in the streets. I was fortunate to have one located across from my hotel so one night I sat out there for a few hours enjoying the fun of it all.
I went to Alessandro E Frederico cafe twice because I liked it so much. There you can buy a tasty, inexpensive sandwich made with freshly baked bread. Yes, you read that correctly – freshly baked bread. It’s like heaven in your mouth. A cute patio, nice wine list, and other delicious eats make this a place you have to visit.
This music store, Toca Do Vinicius, located in Ipanema is quite simply … cool. Stop by to pick up great bossa nova albums on vinyl or CD and even books with sheet music for the classical guitar.
I went to Corcovado to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and take in views of Rio de Janeiro. This “mini me” of Chirst is located at the base of the mountain, before you boarded the train to travel to the top.
At the time, I had no idea that this was a preview of what was to come.
Yep, I journeyed all the way to Rio, paid to take a tour to see the statue, and climbed a mountain only to discover that Christ was draped in scaffolding.
I was still able to take a glimpse of his greatness but as you can imagine, it just wasn’t quite the same.
On the same day that I scaled Corcovado, I also traveled to the top of Sugarloaf mountain by cable car. The views of Rio de Janeiro from there are incredible.
Take the journey to to the top in the late afternoon (as I did) so you can watch the sun set over the city.
Just one of the fantastic views from the top of Sugarloaf mountain:
Truly “artistic and meaningful” graffiti can be found here and there throughout the city.
There are many flavelas throughout Rio – a sad reminder that there is a great gap between the rich and poor.
The Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is a curious piece of architecture.
There are many Baroque inspired churches and buildings in the city. The inside of this church was laden with gold, gold, and … more gold.
The site of the memorial for the Candelaria Massacre. Read my previous blog post on this subject.
View of the Santa Teresa neighborhood from my hotel room window.
Hotel Santa Teresa … a beautiful, luxurious oasis located in a restored colonial mansion. It’s like something out of a fairy tale and is by far, the best hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying.
A deep peaceful sleep is guaranteed at this hotel. The interior of the home was designed using only Brazilian materials and displaying artwork by local artists.
These cute little guys were everywhere!
Meeting Selaron was an absolute pleasure. You can read more about my cool experience here.