Destination: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: February 2014
Activity: Sight-seeing the city
Our first big trip of 2014 was down south….very south, South America that is. It marks the first time I’d ever been in the southern hemisphere! To say the least I was very excited. After an 8 hour flight from Atlanta down to Rio we were exhausted. With a four hour time difference it made us a little jet lagged.
Our first stop was to the Orient Express Hotel, The Copacabana Palace located just off the Copacabana Beach. It is a beautiful place to stay while in Rio. The rooms are elegant, the service is prompt, and efficient, and the amenities are luxurious to say the least. We enjoyed the two days we stayed at this five star hotel.
Right away we spoke to our hotel concierge and were set up with an excellent tour guide Ricardo Maffia, 55-54391-46 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. (A name thats hard to forget!) He was excellent and knowledgeable and took us on a day of sight seeing that I will never forget.
Our first stop was about a thirty minute drive up winding streets to the Cristo Redentor, Statue of Christ the Redeemer. This magnificent statue was built between 1922-1931 and has been an iconic figure of Brazil for many years. It is now on the Seven Man-made Wonders of the World list. It takes buying tickets at the bottom of the mountain at a cost of approximately $15 each. Then its a long ticket line to get into the vans that will take you up near the statue. From there escalators are provided to get visitors the rest of the way up the mountain. It is quite accessible for most people and well worth the visit! It is crowded and hot during the summer months but fortunately there are shops everywhere selling refreshments.
From the Christus we headed over to Pao de Acucar, The Sugar Loaf Mountain. This boasts one of the oldest cable car lines that can take visitors right up to the top. The cost for visiting the top of Sugar Loaf was about $28 per person but it holds the most amazing views in all of Rio. From the bays, ocean, lagoons, beaches, islands, and city the views are amazing! Again there are places to buy refreshments at the top so lugging water around is not necessary. Also I highly recommend trying the cheese bread at the Sugar Loaf snack bar at the top. It was delicious and a welcome treat during our day of running, running, running!
These two activities could have easily taken all day to enjoy but we were trying to see as much as possible so we pushed Ricardo into taking us to more. I should also mention that Ricardo was also great at stopping at all the best places to take pictures and was a pretty good photographer himself. We used his skills all day long!
We drove downtown to see some of the sites of the old city. One cool place we stopped to grab a few pictures was the Escardaria Selaron, an old stairway that is covered in tiles and mosaics. From there we ran over to Cathedral Metropolitan of Sao Sebastia. It is a modern styled cathedral that is inspired by the Mayan pyramids of mexico. It also features stain glassed windows from floor to ceiling that form a cross at the top. Built between 1964-1971 it is a new structure but worth the visit. Next we walked over to the Santo Antonio Cathedral which featured two houses of worship. One for the commoners and very plain compared to the one for the wealthy that is covered in gold and bits of silver from wall to wall floor to ceiling. It was beautiful. There is a $1 donation expected at the door so come prepared.
We continued our walk over to the shopping area of Rio and ran in to buy some delicious bakery items at the Confeitaria Colombo, the oldest coffee shop in Rio. Colombo has a charm all its own and worth a visit just to enjoy the ambiance and again the cheese bread and maybe the lime tarts, both delicious!
Our last stop of the day was at a Trip Advisor #200 out of over 8,000 restaurants called Satyricon. It was an authentic Brazilian Seafood Italian restaurant. We enjoyed a very authentic meal of octopus, tuna, oysters, scallops, lobster, calamari, sardines and more. I enjoyed some of those items but stuck with my fillet steak with fettecini. It was a great place to end our day but in all honesty I enjoyed our visit to Bazzar restaurant from the day before. There we enjoyed perfectly presented soups, salads, steaks, and salmon again with excellent service and outstanding food. Both times we were the only people in the restaurants at 5:00pm because most Brazilians don’t eat dinner until 8:30 or 9:00pm! We enjoyed being spoiled with service and the delicious food of both restaurants. I’d recommend the bread chips with tomato raisin chutney that I had a Bazzar to everyone who visits this great city!
Safe and Happy Travels!