It’s amazing how the vibe changes in Rio – just because the week-end is here. The locals are relaxed and ready to spend time enjoying their city, not just us, the visitors to this amazing place that is so vibrant and pulsating with life.
A Sports Day, an annual event, which is held on the beach starts early on Friday morning. With the swimmers preparing to compete over various heats and distances across the beaches, the atmosphere is electric and the locals are out in force, enjoying the beach with friends and family.
The sights on the beach have been interesting – I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as many tiny triangles in my life time – their bikinis are almost invisible from certain angles! People on the beach are care free and just having fun – tanning is huge here and the shades go from golden dark brown to a shiny shade of black leather… ‘The darker the better’.
The colourful beaches lined with Palm trees along a pavement pattern – a signature pattern made of black and white swirls symbolic of the waves – is a sight you’ll always remember.
Friday is also the day of the week when a local dish called feijoada is prepared and we’re told it’s the best day of the week to enjoy this. The cuisine in the local brasileiras – cafés – is fabulous and truly authentically Brazilian.
We were glad to join our Trafalgar guided holiday today – with many visitors from South Africa, and others from America and Australia – most of whom are well travelled and prepared for an exciting holiday across South America.
After a drive around the city as an orientation of our surrounds, we headed up sugar loaf – another beautiful evening with the most spectacular view, only this time with a guide who was able to tell us so much more about Rio and the views from the summit.
Imagine our surprise when we arrived at a prime spot under the shade of the trees on Morro da Urca for our Welcome Reception to enjoy a finger dinner of delicious local speciality eats and drinks and to meet our companions for the next two weeks. Everyone was in good spirits and excited about exploring South America together.
We couldn’t resist a quick visit to the night market directly in front of our hotel and on the beach front. The wander around gave us time to settle our dinner before heading home (it feels like home already).
Sunday seems quieter, and the weather is being kind to us. After a visit through some of the poorer areas of Rio we headed up to Corcovado mountain – or hunchback mountain. The iconic Christ Redentor statue towers over Rio, it is Brazil’s most recognizable landmark and is situated in the centre of the gorgeous tropical jungle of Parquet National da Tijuca.
The cog train ride through the dense forest is a bonus – and on the way back, the sound of the local musicians put a smile on our faces and it was great to see the smiles of appreciation on the faces of the local musicians – everyone just have a good time.
Last night we headed off to Ipanema and the Hippy evening market – followed by a visit to the original “girl from Ipanema” bar for a caperinga… or two. The atmosphere is amazing between rich, poor, locals and tourists… a beautiful melting pot of all sorts.
Rio de Janeiro “River of January” has quite simply been one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I’ve travelled to so far! It’s not only the unique setting of the dramatic mountains and the beaches at the very centre of Rio that sets it apart, but also the lovely laid back way of the locals, the warm and friendly people and the beautiful mix of samba and bossa nova that makes it unlike any other great city I have visited or know of.