The Marvelous City of Rio de Janeiro
When people talk about Brazil one of the first cities that is recognized is the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. The city itself is astonishing! It’s wedged between the steep, jungle covered slopes of the Mata Atlantica, high rise buildings that meet the white sandy beaches, and tanned, beach body’s sipping on caiprinhias. Many of us know Rio as It’s featured in music videos, movies, and has a great reputation for its beaches, bikinis, parties, and of coarse Carnaval!!
I would like to start off by saying that I absolutely loved Rio and I wished that Danny and I had a few more days to visit! Unfortunately, we only had five nights downtown Rio until we moved to the suburbs of Barra, which was a 45 min trip outside of the Rio that we all know! So, you can say we had a lot to do in the short amount of time! After researching and gathering information, we knew we had to hit Corcovado (Christ Redeemer), Pão Azucar (Sugar Loaf), Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden), the Favelas, Copacabana Beach, Carnaval, and of coarse a Fútbol game! We had a busy schedule!
Here Is Our Journey Through Rio de Janeiro
During our stay in Rio we stayed in the district called Botafogo. Botafogo was a great spot sandwiched between the famous beach of Copacabana, Christ Redeemer, and Praia Flamengo! We had the blessing to stay at an “amazing” hostel named Beach Backpackers Hostel! Ya right… I hated this hostel! This was our first taste of a bad hostel! Why? It was 15 people crammed into a small room, it was on the dirtier side, the AC wasn’t efficient enough in 100 degree/100% humidity, shit breakfast, and had silly house rules!! However, the people and staff did make up for it! Lets get to the good stuff!
The world-wide famous statue of Christ Redeemer is one of the most notorious landmarks in South America and is one of the most amazing man made creations I have ever seen! This unbelievable statue sits on top of Corcovado mountain meaning “hunchback” in Portuguese. It was constructed in 1931 and stands an astonishing 98 feet tall! SHITS CRAY! In order to reach the top, tourists typically hitch a spendy bus/trolly ride where you can enjoy snacks, sunblock, and juice box’s, which seems fun and logical right? Well, it wasn’t extreme enough for us! So, Danny and I decided that we were going to hike up! A friend recommended the deathly slopes of Corcovado so we accepted the challenge. He pointed us in the direction of the trail head and we arrived to a beautiful garden where we were gracefully introduced with multi-century architect, Tarzan trees, jackfruits, singing birds, and plenty of green vegetation! Then it got real…
When we arrived, the guard chuckled us as he asked, “Voce vai con sandalia’s?” “You are going with Sandals?” he turned and laughed at his fellow friend and told us to sign in! We looked at each other stupidly and said there’s no turning back! – Oh ya I was also wearing a skirt – So we began the 2,240 meters hike to heaven (so to say). It took about a full hour in the middle of the day hiking straight up through the jungle. There was one point where we literally rock climbed on a 60 degree incline with an attached chain! We both had never been so hot, sweaty, hungry and thirsty! So much for trying to look cute….
As we finally arrived to the top we grabbed some water and equal parts cerveza and enjoyed a victory beer with the Big Man himself. After hiking up corcovado the view was much more enjoyable. Yes, it was a little difficult especially in our condition, but was it worth it… Fuck Ya! We took plenty of pictures and checked out the incredible views of the city. For the first time, we could see through Christ’s eyes.
The Maracaña Stadium is one of the most famous Fútbol stadiums in the world! It is the largest stadium in Brasil seating upwards of 80,000 people and has had a record breaking attendance of 199,000 people in the mid 1900’s. Maracana has a great football reputation and was one of Danny’s bucket-list ideas in Rio! Thanks to some wonderful family friends, they helped us get tickets and took us to the stadium to watch Fluminense vs. Bangu. We could definitely see how Fluminense was the dominant team by their fan section. It was amazingly intense to see how they reacted towards goals, fouls, and rivalry chants. Just a heads up! Get your buzz on before the game unless you like non–alcoholic beer! Alcohol and die-hard fans… don’t mix well. Nonetheless, we still had a great time and our team ended up winning! Go Fluminense!
After a crazy night of GLOW partying in Rio de Janeiro we still managed to make it to the Botanical Garden. This garden is full of wild animals including a variety of monkeys, birds and many different types of plants, trees, and flowers. This amazing garden definitely would have been a little more enjoyable without being hung-over, but hey who do you think we are?!
The Perfect Trifecta
Where can we start with this day? Well, we started this mini-journey by making it to the open market located in the center. There were thousands of people flooding the streets shopping for their last minute Carnaval costumes, buying pirated goods, and bro-tanks as vendors shouted their store promotions! It was a zoo! When we finally escaped the mayhem, we began to relax and then… we found some fellow Bunkies (roommates) going to Iapanema Beach, another famous beach in Rio. So we enjoyed the white sandy beaches, tiny bikinis, and the infamous rays as we got into the Ocean for the first time in Rio! After, chilling for a bit we decided to be adventurous again and make it to Sugar Loaf for an amazing Brazilian sunset to top off our day! We heard it was a small hike so we took the trip. 30 minutes later made it to the top to watch the sun set behind Corcovado. We decided not to go all the way to the top because we already had a beautiful view and we didn’t really want to pay the extra money to take the cable car the rest of the way. In the end it was a perfect lively day in Rio de Janeiro. We enjoyed the craziness of the central market, appreciated the white sandy beaches, and finished it off with a little work out and a breathtaking sunset.
Burgers & Brews!
The only time Danny and I usually get frustrated with each other is when we are looking for food. We definitely get a little hangry at times, especially when we’ve been walking all over Rio de Janeiro and can’t find a place to eat! You would think it would be easy… Once the bellies start rumbling, we know it’s just a matter of time before someone looses it! On our hangover day, (Botanical Garden) we were drifting down the streets and ran into one of the many small food joints along the sidewalks. BREWTECO was the name. It had the word “BREW” in the name so we knew it had to be good! We ordered a delicious Hefeweisen that was made in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Finally, craft beer! We ordered a burger and ended up getting another beer. And, Another… And after that one, the hangover was gone! This was one of our favorite spots as the owner chatted with us for a bit and gave us another great recommendation for a burger place in Botafogo. He said that we had to go to Hell’s Burger!
The hunt began for Hell’s Burgers and when we arrived it was extremely packed and extremely small. That’s how we knew it was a great recommendation! It was on the side of a building with only 8 outside tables and mentioned that it would be about 30 minutes. Obviously we waited. These burgers were hand pressed with bacon mashed into the meat and then cheese on top. I was so hungry; I was literally drooling over the smell. We dumped homemade zesty BBQ sauce and ketchup as the burgers melted in our mouths. Hands down, A must visit in Rio!
Meeting Family of Family Friends
We were lucky enough to meet up Danny’s brother’s girlfriend’s host family from when she lived in Brazil. Whoa that was a mouthful. Anyways, we were able to get into contact with them and they offered us to visit them. We were astounded by their offer! Complete strangers that were going to open their home to us was more than anything we could have asked for. We gratefully accepted their offer. They were so kind and instantly treated us like family.
They showed us a different side of Brazil by taking us to beaches that weren’t as crowded, showed us amazing Brazilian cuisine, and even some home cooked meals. One night during Carnaval they took us to lively district called Lapa and had the opportunity to go to this amazing bar called Lapa 40! The bar was 4 stores high and had pool tables and live bands on every level! This night was one to remember! We saw unbelievable samba dancers in their colorful costume shaking their Carnaval souls. Damn, these girls can move! We tried our samba moves and didn’t leave until 4 am! We will never forget our time there and gratefully thank them for letting us spend time with them.
Overall Rio was great. Personally, I would have loved a few more days so we wouldn’t have been as rushed during our stay. We are already making plans to visit Rio again in the future! A couple things we didn’t have enough time for was a Samba class and a favela tour. Many people recommended both, but i guess that leaves us something to do on our next visit! Anyways, Maybe next time!