Living in Colombia has been great, especially because we have the chance to visit amazing places in this beautiful country and all around it. It also makes traveling to other countries close by so much more affordable than it would if we were still in the U.S. Determined to make the most of our stay, Daniel and I took some time of from work and university earlier this year and explored some other countries in South America.
As our first stop we chose Rio de Janeiro, a place both my husband and I have been wanting to visit for a while. The city, known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), attracts millions of tourists each year, making it Brazil's most visited city. This is no surprise, as Rio offers something for everyone - from spectacular beaches and beautiful sceneries, to plentiful museums and non-stop nightlife.
1. Sunbath At Copacabana Beach
We stopped at Copacabana on our first night for an early evening stroll on the promenade and watched the waves crashing on the shore. Even though this area is light up at night and police is present, it's not very safe after sunset. When we came back the next day, the 2.2 miles long beach was filled with people sunbathing, playing volleyball or soccer, or enjoying cold drinks at the many bars along the sand-hugging promenade. Even though the bars in this area are great to offer hearty snacks, chopp (draft beer) and delicious cocktails, they aren't a place to be safe from quite pushy Brazilians trying to sell you all kinds of overpriced souvenirs and sunglasses. Overall, Copacabana is a stunning and lively beach, surrounded by expensive hotels and restaurants. There are also many fun sport events that take place on the beach which are as fun to watch as to participate!
2. Enjoy The View At Christ the Redeemer (Christo Redentor)
The 98 ft tall Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ (not including a 26 ft pedestal) is located at the peak of the 2,300 ft Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park. This cultural icon has become the probably most important symbol of Rio and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul Landowskiit, the statue took five years to built and was finished on October 12, 1931. Make sure to check the weather forecast before visiting this spectacular monument, as you will be disappointed and unable to see much of it on cloudy days.
|View from Mount Urca of the Sugarloaf Mountain|
3. Spend A Morning At The Sugarloaf Mountain
Easily one of my favorite spots in Rio, the Sugarloaf Mountain is located at the Guanabara Bay, rising 1,299 ft above the harbor and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city. To go up this impressive mountain you take a cable car first to Mount Urca and then another all the way up to the hill. We ended up spending much more time on both mountains than intended, as they both offer incredibly beautiful views overlooking Rio. You can also find a good number of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops on the mountains, as well as a small museums and a forest walk all the way up on the hill that is definitely worth exploring.
4. Visit The Maracanã Stadium
If you are a big soccer fan like us, you should definitely check out Rio's famous soccer stadium. Built as the flagship venue for the 1950 World Cup, the Maracanã Stadium was meant to become the biggest soccer stadium in the world. It was completely renovated for the World Cup 2014 and the Olympic games 2016 and has a capacity of 74,738 seats.
|Selaron Steps at Lapa|
5. Party At Lapa
During our trip, we stayed in the neighborhood of Lapa rather than close to the beach, mainly because of it's amazing nightlife and street parties. Lapa, famous for its Bohemian culture, is the place to go to experience the rhythm of Brazil's Samba music and it's bright and colorful social scene. The neighborhood has many different restaurants and bars, but most people dance and drink on the street at the end of the night. Lapa is also famous for it's beautiful architecture, especially the Escadaria Selarón or Selaron Steps.
6. Take A Stroll In The Botanical Garden
I love nature and going to botanical gardens always is a treat for me. The 137-hectare Jardim Botânico in Rio holds more than 8000 different plant species. It shows the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora and includes different greenhouses (one of them completely designated to over 600 species of orchids), rows of planted palms, an Amazonas section, and different historical and artistic monuments.
|Some of the crazy decoration at Marius Degustare|
7. Eat At A Churrascaria
This is the place to eat for meat lovers! At Brazilian steakhouses, or churrascarias, you will get all kinds of different meats, traditionally roasted with charcoal. What makes a churrascaria different than a regular steakhouse? All-you-can-eat meat served directly at your table service! So called "passadores" (or meat waiters) come to your table with a skewer, on which is speared different cuts of meat or fish, which are then directly cut onto your plate. Our favorite place: Marius Degustare, which is such a cool place to go. The scene is very different, like stepping inside a pirate ship (which is definitely entertaining), the staff is extremely friendly and the food is super delicious.
|Leaving a message at the Sugarloaf Mountain|
|View from the Sugarloaf Mountain|
|View from Mount Urca|
|Spending the day at Copacabana|