Rio de Janeiro (EN)

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Updated | 17.feb.2014

2 beautiful days in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

The weekend started with a happy hour at Lapa, the bohemian neighborhood full of people from all over the world as well as locals. The old downtown area still displays some examples of the Portuguese arquitecture, lots of cool graffiti and popular street art like “Escadaria Selarón”. It’s packed with “botecos” (small bars) and live music venues, which makes the area one of the best to enjoy the essence of Rio’s popular culture.

Graffiti at Lapa
Arcos da Lapa

We hung out at Bar da Boa (Rua Mem de Sa, 69) which had a fantastic “Empadinha” (kind of a mini chicken pot pie, that can also be stuffed with shrimp or heart of palm) and stupidly cold beer. For local live music and good samba, we went to Carioca da Gema (which thankfully has air conditioning) and saw fabulous popular singer Teresa Cristina singing classic Brazilian music. 

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach
On Saturday morning we spent some time at Ipanema Beach, Posto 9. The temperature was 37C, felt like 50C, the sand was burning our feet and the water was warm ... I miss Rio!

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Amazonia Soul, located at Rua Teixeira de Melo com Rua Prudente de Morais, 37 (there’s a hippie market on weekends at this square), to try some Amazon exotic fruits ice cream: Acai Berry and Brazilian nuts. Both were absolutely incredible and refreshing.

Morro da Urca and Pao de Acucar

Morro da Urca and Pao de Acucar

Afterwards we cabbed to “Morro da Urca and Pao de Acucar”, one of the most famous symbols of Rio together with the Christ (Corcovado). As we wanted to have more contact with nature and experience a little adventure, we decided to hike Morro da Urca through a very well know trail, which ended up being very fun despite the steamy weather! It took us approximately 45’ to climb the mountain and 5L of water (yeah, it was really hot). The whole experience is free of charge: no fee to hike up the hill and you can take the cable car on the way back for free as well. However, if you want to proceed to Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf) you need to pay for the cable car and actually one needs to buy tickets at the box office before starting the hike. To find the start of the trail is very easy: on the bottom of the hill, on your left, take the paved path and walk approximately 5-10’. You’ll see on your left an open area in the middle of the forest and kind of a concentration of people going up or down, there are no signs but you can’t miss it.

Morro da Urca trail

Bike Tour – Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Gavea
On Sunday we decided to explore more the south part of the town (Zona Sul – Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Gavea, Aterro do Flamengo). The best way to make the most of your time is to enjoy the shared bikes sponsored by Itau, which work pretty much like Divvy bikes in Chicago. 
If possible, download the app and register in the service before you go so you don’t waste time there figuring out how it works:

Bar Garota de Ipaname at Rua Vinicius de Moraes, Ipanema beach

Sushi boat at Yume
Two cool restaurants that we tried and totally recommend:

- Braseiro da Gavea: not only for the relaxed atmosphere, the meat “picanha", but for the delicious rice with broccoli, which I totally need to learn how to cook!
- Yume Sushi at Rua Pacheco Leao, behind the Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico). Wonderful sushi and incredible environment!

For more info about food and restaurants check Rio's episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, which is very fun and provide good tips!

Where to stay:
Atlantis Copacabana Hotel at Arpoador. Excellent location, walking distance from Ipanema and Copacabana. Hotel is decent, like 2 or 3 star hotel.

Atlantis Hotel rooftop

Veja esse post em Portugues aqui // See this post in Portuguese here