Brazil...Just the sound of that name alone conjures up all kinds of cool vibes!!! My wife and I were beyond excited when we set off for two weeks in Rio. We were there to soak up the much heralded atmosphere of carnival week and check out everything else that Rio had to offer. We stayed at the Miramar hotel which was located at the southern end of Copacabana and the views from our room afforded us the most awesome visuals of the entire length of the promenade and beach. The best start ever! The hotel also boasted a truly fabulous rooftop bar and infinity pool with Sugarloaf Mountain clearly in sight.
Carnival week begins with bloc parties everywhere, no matter which way you turned, the sounds of the most beautiful samba music caressing your ears was everything! It’s unbelievable to be in the midst of something you’d previously only imagined and dreamed about. We purchased our tickets in London for the main night (Tuesday) in the Sambadrome and had to collect them at a pre arranged location once we’d arrived. There were people there from every country you could think of also collecting their orders. For some, it was costumes as they were participating in what is arguably the greatest show on earth. For us though, just being a spectator in that auditorium was an achievement enough. This was bucket list stuff!!! Our tickets included hotel pick up and drop off along with covered seating in the Sambadrome in case of rain, but it was a dry spectacular night which saw us arrive at 6:30pm and leave at 7:00am the following morning, lent. We were smashed to dropping point but managed to hang in there by the sheer adrenaline of the entire spectacle. We arrived back at our hotel in time for a much anticipated breakfast, shower and bed. In that blissful order too.
So, re-energised, we were ready to spend week two sightseeing this world famous capital. By pure luck, we happened to make the acquaintance of an English speaking young Brazilian lady who would become our personal tour guide and friend. With her, we spent an amazing three hours on Sugarloaf Mountain just relaxing and enjoying the most exotic 360 degree views of the Copacabana skyline, and Quanabara Bay. The cable car experience to reach the summit was in itself divine. Two stages it would take to reach the top with the first taking you to the peak of Urca Mountain and then the final leg up to Sugarloaf itself. Check out my page @pinderworld for a complete visual documentation.
Also included in our trips was to Escadaria Selaron, the magical bespoke stairway of colour and vibrancy which is most definitely best appreciated ￼as dawn breaks. Reason being, you will be one of a very few people there for an ultra closeup look at the intricacies of Selaron’s work and that all important photo opportunity!
The Maracana Stadium and our world wonder visit to Christ the Redentor. This was our first ever wonder and an incredible experience for us. Would highly recommend that again, you get there as early as 8:00am to beat the enormous queues of tourists and unforgiving afternoon sun rays. Just about everyone has been given the arrive early advice so you can expect it to still be busy up there from early.
As my wife was celebrating her birthday while we were in Brazil, our new friend arranged with her family to give wifey an authentic Brazilian birthday party. They lived in the Favelas of Cantagalo, so we took motorcycle taxis to the top for a truly memorable tour of the steep streets, and neighbourhood. Trust me, you have to be somewhat fit to negotiate the non stop stairways and inclines. A good tour of the favelas works up a proper appetite, so we were well and truly ready for some local cuisine and some birthday celebrations afterwards. How safe are the favela’s? Well I would say a lot safer than people would think. This is hugely due to the mass passifications to much of them leading up to the 2014 football World Cup. Gone are the days of the drug gangs ruling the roost. Kids now run free without the worry of crossfire from warring gangs. My wife and I were actually robbed at knifepoint on Copacabana while out on a night beach walk. Yeah, we were very silly, but we were so accustomed to our night time walks on the beach around the world that we thought nothing of it. Luckily, we were at least smart enough not to walk with any valuables though we were relieved of a small crossover bag containing a small camera and our hotel door entry card. A massive warning to you if you’re reading this! Despite this little hiccup, I would definitely travel to Brazil again but my wife won’t. She wasn’t keen on the large numbers of undesirables adorning the streets.
In general, the people of Brazil are a beautiful people. While the music and the mood is magnetic, the local cuisine left a little to be desired unless of course, you’re a massive meat fan which in that case, Fogo De Chao is the ultimate place to be. I’m salivating at the mouth with the thought!! Why don’t you be the judge!!