Rio de Janeiro! I never thought I’d get a weekend there, but life has its ways of throwing AWESOME things in our path, so I took full advantage of my serendipity and booked a spur of the moment flight. To be fair, I was already in Sao Paulo so it was less than an hour to go there. Irresistible.
First up, a note about Sao Paulo. When I landed, I ended up staying some way out of the city in a suburb (if you can call it that) called Tambore. It was difficult to get a real sense of the size of the city from there, but luckily I moved into town the day after. The city is huge – literally a sprawling mass of houses and offices – buildings all piled on top of each other. It’s one of those cities where there are always people around, no matter what time of day it is. And people don’t think twice about approaching you or staring at you.
The city from my VERY dirty hotel room.
To be honest, it was pretty intimidating. I had the choice of staying there for the weekend or heading off to Rio. Literally it was a no-brainer. Especially after someone told us that the road my hotel was on was dangerous for foreign travellers. Decision made!
I booked a hotel on the famous Copacabana Beach because it seemed like one of the safer parts of the city to stay in. Given I am a single, female, Western traveller – safety was one of the key considerations.
I arrived in the morning and spent the first day on the beach. It was at least 35 degrees. Needless to say I was slathered in factor 50 and insect repellent. No Zika virus for me please!
RIO DE JANEIRO – CITY TOUR
On my second day I booked a full day city tour, as it seemed like the easiest (and safest!) way to get around in the short amount of time I had there. I plumped for Grayline after some very brief internet searching (this was all very last minute!). It wasn’t that cheap – £123 for the day, which included the tour, lunch and entry into Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer – but Grayline seemed like a reputable company and the itinerary was what I was after.
To be honest, the tour wasn’t the greatest – we spent a lot of time picking people up from hotels and driving around. The only place we got out of the coach in the city was this weird Church that looked a bit like an alien spaceship. We didn’t get to walk around anywhere and get a feel for the place. Will have to do that when I come back!
By the time we went up Sugarloaf it was 39 degrees. Scorcher! The views were pretty cool and the cable car up and down was fun, if a little cramped!
View from Sugarloaf.
View of Copacabana Beach – in the background.
CORCOVADO – CHRIST THE REDEEMER
After lunch, and a bit too much driving around, later, we headed up Corcovado Mountain to see the famous Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue. It was absolutely roasting as we were herded onto a little train that hoisted us up the side of the mountain. Sticky bum sticking to the seat.
It’s only when you get to the top that you realise just how big the statue is. It is 30 metres tall and sits on an 8 metre pedestal, looking down with open arms on the city below. I love the symbology of the position and pose of the Christ figure and it was amazing to see it up close.
An absolute must if you ever find yourself in Rio de Janeiro.
View of the city.
On my last morning, I got up early, doused myself in the factor 50 and the insect repellent AGAIN and headed out for a walk to Ipanema Beach. It’s not far from Copacabana, but when the temperature is 30 degrees at 10am, it’s not a walk to be taken at pace.
I enjoyed a stroll past Copacabana Fort and right around the beachfront. Because it was a Monday, it was a lot quieter on the beach than Saturday, although there were still some crazy guys playing volleyball in the heat.
I stopped for one last rehydrating coconut (seriously, new favourite thing) before heading back to the hotel, to the airport and home.
Even though I wasn’t there very long, I loved my weekend in Rio de Janeiro. I am SO glad I decided to go there instead of staying in Sao Paulo. It was hot and it was lovely to just relax on the beach after a busy week and lots of flights. I will of course have to go back to do it ‘properly’ but as a taster weekend it was perfect.
Have you ever been to Rio? I hope my post has inspired you!
All photos by Jennifer Helen