So let this be your sneak preview of what you can expect from this bustling, spotlighted city.
First thing I instantly noticed about Rio and from travelling around Brazil is that Rio is nothing like the rest of Brazil. It’s like I am instantly transported to another country. Granted, Brazil is huge, we learned this when planning our trip initially and thus opting for a flight pass to get around the various cities we intended on visiting. Getting back to Rio, Rio is like most modern western metropolises, with a tiny hint of beach culture. If anything I would compare it to Honolulu or Waikiki in Hawaii, but quite a bit less developed.
In regards to public transport, shopping, cleanliness, tourist attractions and eating it is all on par with any major city in North American or Europe. I would also put it in a whole other category than the rest of Brazil in things related to safety. I felt unsafe in various areas of Brazil, mainly more inland in Manaus and Salvador. But in Rio, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could finally relax and enjoy a bit more. Although I should mention I stayed far away from the Favelas.
And boy did I relax, somehow Rio turned into beach, party, beach, party, and a little Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor ) sightseeing in there as well. Hey, it was the end of our trip, we were allowed to go a bit crazy.
Our first beach we visited was Copacabana, mainly cause it is the most famous beach in Rio and our dad would be extremely disappointed at us if we didn’t visit it.
The second beach we checked out was Ipanema, the “new up-in-coming trendy” beach.
In comparison, they were both very similar. The sand was clean, Ipanema’s was slightly more white, and the water was cold. Ipanema also has a wonder boardwalk that’s open to rollerbladers, bikers and joggers, as well as a gay beach section which is very forward thinking. Can’t say I prefer either to the other.
In regards to the night life, we kinda had a bit of bad timing in our trip as we arrived on a Monday and departed on the Friday afternoon, so we never got a chance to experience Rio’s famous Lapa district street music and nightlife area. We did however manage to make our way onto a party boat that cruised till 4am, and eventually a Samba club.
Other things we did in Rio
Visit Christ the Redeemer: a crowded cluster of people, posing and trying to squish onto the tiny platform for just a few seconds, enough to snap your photos and be done. It’s hectic, you have to show up at least two hours in advance to book a spot on the tram to ride up. But, if I didn’t get a chance to see it I would have been very disappointed.
I was scared shitless, I had a previous bad experience paragliding in Austria (the second time) and thus the thought of voluntary running off a cliff again stressed me out like crazy. However, it only took a brief panic attack before I was convinced to run off and fly.
Boy was this the experience of flying or what! We were lucky enough to catch a thermal which lifted us up higher above the jump platform and thus gave us a longer flight time.
Hang gliding is really all about luck, since we tried all 4 days we were in Rio to do hang gliding and only on the last day the wind conditions were right. ( They take this stuff very seriously). Regardless, I loved every second of it, much more than paragliding, although that’s also pretty wicked. Considering that was the last thing we managed to do in Rio, I believe we time it quite well.
Now this is only a small glimpse of what there is to do in Rio, and from what I have seen so far, World you are in for a treat, Rio will not disappoint! I can’t wait to go again, maybe 2014? We’ll see.