Things I did and loved in Rio de Janeiro:
- Obviously you’ll need to go up to Christ the Redeemer. There’s a train that goes up, but after getting wildly lost walking around Rio, we took a taxi to the base of the mountain and walked up. Once you’re up, there are a series of stairs you’ll need to climb to get to the statue. The base of the statue is shoulder-to-shoulder people. My suggestion? Get your picture with the Redeemer then head over to the edge and look at Rio. You may not have noticed before, but Rio is gorgeous.
- For a fun day at the beach, the Copacabana is your best bet. Some of the beaches in Rio are contaminated by sewage, but the Copacabana is perfection. Waves for body surfing, clean sand, and a strip of bars and restaurants nearby.
Things to eat and drink:
- Try a Caipirinha, the Brazilian alcoholic beverage of choice! It’s a combination of cachaça (sort of like rum), lime, and sugar.
- Being vegetarian is difficult in Brazil. As with Argentina, Brazil is big on steak.
- But there are loads of fresh fruits! Take advantage of the slap-yo-mama-cheap tropical fruits and fruit juices. Mangoes and passion fruit and pineapple oh my!
Get in, around, and out:
- As with most of South America, busses are the prime (and cheapest) method of transportation for intra-country travel. Just head to the main bus station (Terminal Novo Rio) to buy your tickets. I’d recommend buying them a few days in advance if possible.
Things to note:
- There’s a huge disparity of wealth in Rio, which does make it more prone to crime. But Rio is safe if you’re smart about it. Don’t carry valuable in plain sight (cameras, expensive jewelery, phones etc), and trust your gut.
- Favelas are a product of the extremes in wealth, with these being on the far lower end of the spectrum. These are heavily populated, substandard houses and settlements, usually built up onto the granite hills of Rio. There are “favela tours” you can pay to go on, though I have no idea how one could do that with morality still intact. I’d suggest that tourists just avoid the favelas, and like I said before, trust your gut. The picture below is actually in Vitoria, Brazil, but you can see an insy bit of what I’m talking about to the very right of the photo.
- English speakers are a bit hard to come by here. Look up a few key words in Portuguese and write em down before you go. If anything, know how to say thank you! Women say “obrigada”, men say “obrigado”.
- Brazilians are great people. Compassionate and helpful, if you need help or have a question, just ask.
For anyone interested, this is the route we took through Brazil. Starting in Rio, we overnight bussed to Vitoria, a beach city with very few tourists. From there we flew to Salvador, murder capital of Brazil without a ton to do or see. From Salvador we bussed to Lencois, the starting point for hiking into the national park, Chapada Diamantina.