We started from the top. Christ the Redeemer or Cristo Redontor
The statue of Christo Redontor is on top of the Corvocado mountain. A funicular train, Trem Corvocado, took us through the Tijuca forest – an Atlantic rainforest to the top. As the train climbed through the forest, we got panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. We realised its special characteristic – a well developed concrete city, with the oceanic coast on one end, and mountains on the other. It was hard to believe that the dense forest we were crossing was right in the middle of one of the most famous cities of the world!
Free walking tour of Rio de Janeiro
In our hostel at Rio de Janeiro, we learnt about the free walking tour through the cultural centre of the city. The tour started at Carioca square and took us through the tiny by lanes of downtown Rio de Janeiro, known as Centro.
The downtown of Rio is a charming area to walk around, lined with old colonial buildings which were residences and business houses of the people form Portugal when they first arrived here, cobbled streets and small cosy cafes.
Another handy way to make friends is to join any local activities – learning how to do the forro or make a wicked caipirinha! We would’ve loved to learn Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
First visit to a Pria in Brazil
Our first beach in Brazil was the non-touristy Barra da Tijuca. We got off the bus at Pria (Portuguese for beach) and were stunned by layers of endless white and blue that lay before us. Never before had we seen the water so blue or the sand so white. It was all too overwhelming.
With hardly any people around, we had almost the entire beach to ourselves. We went to the water and dipped our feet for the first time in the waters of the Atlantic ocean. It was a magical albeit cold moment. We spent many hours at the beach, just lying around and admiring the beauty before us.
There were some wave surfers trying to catch the wave. And of course, some youngsters practising their football skills.
Click to play the video.
Copacabana and Ipanema beaches
No visit to Rio is complete without actually setting foot on the legendary Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Because of the rains, it took us a few days to actually get to the beach.
Walking down a beach is a first-hand experience of a paradox, on one side you have the thriving beach action. But a couple of minutes away, crossing the road are offices and commercial establishments. On one hand are men dressed in shorts, women in their tiny bikinis, on the opposite are people dressed in a formal office attire. On one hand, people are exercising in the open air gyms (which are free for all along the entire stretch of the beach), playing games of football, volleyball or some ingenious games of foot-volley ball or fresco ball, on the other they are all running to their office or towards the nearest metro station. These beaches define the life here in Rio.
We experienced this when we were looking for a football club and couldn’t figure out which turn to take from our Google maps. We asked a cab driver for directions. He didn’t speak English, and our Portuguese hadn’t moved much ahead of Obrigada. But he got out of his cab, and without any hint of “come, let me take you there in the cab”, only pointing left and right, he gave us the exact directions to the football club. We could see it in his eyes, that he had taken it as his personal responsibility of making sure these 2 lost English speaking visitors to his beloved Rio de Janeiro reach correctly to their destination!
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Sao Paulo, Brazil and the beginning
“Which way to the airport express?” Blank stares, shrugs and then the response ” Aah, Inglés!” Lots of sign language, pointing directions, followed by a thumbs up, a smile and us replying ” Obrigada!” Invariably, there is a dismissive wave of the hand saying, ” Na Da!” Thus began our trip to Brazil.
Ilha Grande: Paradise on an island
How do you combine blue, green and white and make the most beautiful thing ever? Of course, by making the island of Ilha Grande! We decided to head to Ilha Grande for our next stop. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, it is part of the area called “Costa Verde” meaning the “Green coast”.
16 thoughts on “Rio de Janeiro: Warm even in the rains”
I really enjoyed the pictures in this post! Brazil looks so colourful and so fun. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time there and can’t wait to see more of your adventures.. ✈✈
is there a vaccination requirement prior to visiting Rio? thanks.
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Thanks for the read (and pics!) – really took me back on my last and only trip to Rio back in 2015. The only thing that really made me uneasy was safety as I had my bag stolen… pictures lost and everything 🙁
Guess I have a reason to go back!
We were initially pretty apprehensive about the safety in Rio de Janeiro. Luckily for us, we didn’t get into any trouble. Losing everything like that sucks big time. Admire your approach though, of making that a reason to go back 🙂
Guess you have to, to wipe off that memory. Kudos and happy travels!
Love these pictures. Quite colorful 🙂
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – as colourful and lively as life can get!
Brazil is such a beautiful country ? can’t wait to go these pictures are amazing
Hi Sandeepa and Chetan. Very nice blog and thanks for sharing your experience with us. I also planning for Brazil trip and this can be useful for me.
Hope this helps you in your travel in Brazil and South America.
Excellent blog…. btw its #Praia 🙂
I had a very similar experience. Really enjoyed doing the free walking tour in the first day as it allowed me to get to know some history right from the get go. I also did a food tour in Santa Teresa which was really worth it (more for the food than for the place itself to be honest).
And Escadaria Selaron is an inspiration for any traveler!
Hey Bruno, we spent just a short while in Santa Teresa, should have explored more of that region. We did a “pub crawl” tour in Lapa though. The energy there on that Saturday night, was just infectious! Loved the Selaron steps, in fact loved everything about Rio! Missing the place, even as I write this 🙂
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The steps with all of the tiles were so interesting. It must be like a little boost to your spirit every time you climb up there.
I loved the picture of the beach with the huge rainbow. They are so beautiful to see in person. I also liked the picture of the paintings set up along the gates. I wonder if the artist sells many paintings to people who walk by.
Hey Tina, even we wondered how many paintings the artists were selling. But they didn’t mind coming forward and talking to us if we showed interest! Those Selaron steps are a mini global gathering, brimming with excited tourists and locals alike! You are right about the boost of spirit, honestly we felt that way throughout Rio de Janeiro!