Rio de Janeiro – November 2019

Leaving Iguazu Falls, we flew to Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, November 12. We stayed in Copacabana, at the JW Marriott which I highly recommend. I was surprised that getting there was so convenient and cheap from the airport. The JW Marriott had a rooftop pool and nice rooftop bar, where we spent the first evening, with a view of the beach in front of us and the statue of Christ the Redeemer visible behind the hotel.

The view from the rooftop of the JW Marriott
Rooftop cabana at the JW Marriott

The next morning we met our tour guide to take us to Sugarloaf – a mountain rising 1300 feet above the harbor. We took two cable cars up for great views of Rio. It was a gorgeous morning. The first cable car took us to Morro da Urca before we took a second cable car to the peak of Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf and the Urca Hill Natural Monument became UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2012.

At Morro da Urca before the second cable car ride to the summit of Sugarloaf
View of downtown Rio from Morro da Urca
View from Sugarloaf Mountatin
Descending on the cable car

As if we had not had enough meat in the past week, we had an incredible lunch at another churrascaria, this time, Assador Rio’s. A churrascaria is basically an “all you can eat” Brazilian barbecue, where lots of meat of every cut and kind (including chicken hearts) is cooked and then served from a giant skewer at the table. They keep bringing it until you say “no more!” This was definitely one of the top two meals I had the entire time I was in Brazil.

As we were leaving lunch, our tour guide got a message that the train that takes you to the top of the 2300 foot tall mountain, Corcovado, to see Christ the Redeemer was down. Luckily, we had a heads up, so our our driver took us up to a point where we could take another van to the top. The iconic symbol for Rio, the statue is nearly 125 feet tall, including its pedestal. Even from Copacabana Beach, I had a hard time not looking at the statue of Christ, arms outstretched to embrace all below. Right at its base, I wanted to stare at every angle, take pictures from every angle. It was fascinating. That high up, we were periodically in the clouds. The view below could be absolutely nonexistent, but then the clouds would roll away and it would be phenomenal.

The view of Sugarloaf from Christ the Redeemer
Looking down at Copacabana on the left and Ipanema on the right

Coming back down from Corcovado, I got to see several monkeys.

The next day was rainy and cooler, but we made it a beach day anyway. There was a guy named Carlos who rented chairs and sold drinks, so we kept him company for much of the day.

That night, we sat at one of the many “bar kiosks” along the beach and watched two of Rios teams play football (soccer). Most of the crowd was pulling for Flamingo. (My friends Beth and Amanda actually got to go to the game with one of Beth’s friends who lives in Rio and his brother.) I was happy to sit by the beach, watch the game with the local folks, and drink a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. (I may have had a few while I was there.)

The beach chair I would later occupy, with Carlos’ chair/drink stand and the JW Marriott behind us
A misty Copacabana beach, looking towards Sugarloaf

That night we went to another bar kiosk on the beach for live music. It was such a fun crowd, and fun people watching! This one was called Praia Skol 360 and it has been called one of the ten best bars in Copacabana.

The next day, we decided to tour downtown Rio on our own. One of the main attractions was a mural that is the world’s largest street art mural spray painted by a single artist. Eduardo Kobra painted it for the Rio Olympics in 2016. He called it Todos Somos Um (We Are One). It’s colors have faded since its debut, and I wish that I had captured it all, but it is still inspiring.

A portion of Kobra’s Todos Somos Um (We Are One)

Nearby was this street art that I really liked by Marina Lattuca.

While exploring, we walked by The Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã), built on the waterfront. There was a market of arts, crafts, foods, and beverages that was opening up in the square.

Museu do Amanhã

Before leaving the downtown area, we wanted to check out the Escadaria Selarón or ‘Selaron Steps’ — 215 steps that are covered in thousands of tiles from around the world, designed by the artist Jorge Selarón. Unfortunately, it was WAY crowded, and I couldn’t get good great pictures of the steps.. (It was a national holiday in Brazil that day — Republic Day.)

Other pictures from my afternoon of exploring:

Heading back to Copacabana, we had one final meal at another beach kiosk – this time, Costello ( Avenida Atlantica, S/N – Quiosque 13 ). I had delicious shrimp that were sauteed in lots of garlic. We flew out that night at 10:00 pm. I hope the garlic wasn’t coming through my pores.

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