10 Reasons to Pack Your Bags for Rio de Janeiroby Jason Noronha on July 28th, 2011
Rio is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s not hard to see why…
A perfect beach would have white sand and blue water line with beautiful mountains and a rainforest for a backdrop. Now how about all of these for a city beach? Rio’s pride and joy – Copacabana and Ipanema figure in any list of the world’s most famous or beautiful beaches. Who would need to go on holiday if this was home!
2. Sports Central
If you’re a sports fan, then Rio is heaven. With the turn of the millennium, every important sporting event has made a beeline for Rio. The Olympics looks set to take the world by storm. Rio also plays host to one of the most beautiful marathons around – all along the coast with Christ the Redemeer spurring you on.
Did I mention the Soccer World Cup?? Enough said.
3. Jesus Dude
Cristo, Christ the Redeemer, Christo Redentor, Jesus dude – call him what you want, he’s impossible to ignore in Rio and stands guard over the city. The statue up close is monstrously big and is as tall as a 13 storey building; an engineering marvel and a work of art. If you manage to drag your eyes (and cameras) away from Jesus, the gallery from the top of Corcovado offers a panoramic view of Cidade Maravilhosa (the magnificent city).
4. Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain)
It would seem logical that if you’ve seen one viewpoint of the city, you’ve seen them all.
The sugar loaf mountain, perched at the edge of the city offers spectacular views of the city on one side and the coast on the other. A pleasant hike through the park is an alternative to paying an arm and a leg for the cable car. Sunset on the sugar loaf mountain is spectacular and being able to see Jesus watch over the city is priceless. And of course a beer at the top does help enhance the overall experience.
5. Hand Gliding
Think hand gliding. Think Rio.
Running off a ramp 600m above sea level, cruising over the world’s largest city-forest, descending over the Atlantic Ocean and finally landing on the beach is a wild ride for any adrenalin junkie (and that’s an understatement). With the wind in your hair and the sun on your shoulders this is probably the best way to literally get a bird’s eye view of the beaches, mountains, rainforest, favelas and the city. Priced at a steep 200 USD per flight (5-10 minutes), this is a once in a lifetime opportunity (at least for the financially challenged) to fly. And taste real freedom.
6. A Walk Through Time
Something that people might forget to mention about Rio is how old it is. Beautiful buildings, remnants of Portuguese architecture are splashed across the city. They stand in start contrast to the modern day skyscrapers that threaten to take over. A walk through the centre of the city drives home the fact that Rio wasn’t built in a day (couldn’t resist) and was actually founded in the 16th Century.
7. Santa Teresa
This Bohemian neighborhood in Rio is home to budding artists and can be reached by tram from the city. The 20-minute tram ride to Santa Teresa is a treat by itself. At half a dollar (US), it’s also the cheapest tourist attraction in the city. Santa Teresa sits on a hill and offers picturesque views of the sun setting over the city. Cobblestone streets, graffiti all over the walls and tiny hole in the wall shops selling artwork makes walking through the streets of Santa Teresa quite an experience. It feels like you’ve entered a new world far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city below.
In Brazil, music is always in the air and here Rio is no exception. The bar and club scene here is huge with the music played ranging from alternate rock to samba to the World famous Bossa Nova that incidentally originated in Rio. The Lapa Street parties draw thousands and the Sunday Night Favela Funk party is a different animal altogether. The World’s largest music festival – Rock in Rio returns for another edition in 2011, this time headlined by RHCP.
Video with Brazil street music coming your way in a couple of days. I’ve uploaded a tiny snippet for now.
9. Suco Bars
As with any big city, most people are always rushing to get somewhere, but in Brazil there’s always time to stop at a suco (juice) bar. You can choose from an endless list of fruits many of which the rest of the world are blissfully unaware of. Either that or I need to spend some time on my Portuguese. Suco bars are at every street corner and grow on you after a while. In my opinion every city could do with a healthy dose of suco bars.
Come February and it’s carnival season. Perhaps the most famous carnival in the world; samba schools begin rehearsals for the carnival in September. I visited in July but was fortunate enough to stumble upon the filming of a promotion for Carnival 2012.