And so, after four months of travelling around six other countries, we arrived at long last in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Flying into Rio from the comparatively small city of Montevideo, Uruguay was a bit overwhelming. From our seats in the sky it seemed like Rio went on, and on, and on… sprawling down mountains and around beaches as far as the eye could see.
In fact, Rio is SO big that it took us more than an hour to get from the airport to the little studio apartment that we’d rented for the week… only two blocks away from Copacabana Beach! The apartment was small, but it had a little kitchen (thank God! food is very expensive in Rio!) and a huge roof top terrace with an amazing view of the world famous statue of Cristo Redentor. We spent many a happy hour sitting on the terrace, sipping wine, listening to music and laughing.
We visited the statue way up there on a very steamy and humid day. The view from the base of the statue was breath-taking, all golden beaches and deep green patches of jungle interspersed throughout this colourful and gritty city.
We spent another day walking from Copacabana Beach down to Ipanema Beach. We’d been warned that the beaches could be dangerous and that pick-pockets and other robbers often targeted tourists on the beach. In fact, one evening we were standing at a crosswalk waiting to cross the street to Copacabana Beach when we watched helplessly from across six lanes of traffic as a tourist had his camera literally yanked out of his hands by a robber on a bicycle. So, we didn’t really plan to lie about on the beach listening to our iPod or reading on the Kindle. Instead we did a lovely walk along the edge of Copacabana, through the surrounding neighbourhoods and out onto Ipanema. Two of the most famous beaches in the world in one sunny walk? Yes, please!
And, since we’d done a fair bit of walking, the next day we treated ourselves to the traditional Brazilian dish of feijoada. Served only on Saturdays and Sundays, feijoada is really several dishes served together… typically a large pot of black bean and pork stew served with sides like rice, fried collard greens with crackling, roasted cassava flour, slices of oranges and hot sauce. I’ll be honest, I like pretty much anything that’s made with black beans, but this was amazing… especially since it’s served with a classic caipirinha to drink!
We spent a lot of time talking in Rio. Reviewing our trip, discussing the many many high points, the few low points, where we’d return, what new things we might like to see if we were to return to South America. Many months ago, this trip felt like it might be our one shot at seeing South America. Now, not so much. I could easily see us returning to several of the amazing places that we’ve visited in the past four months. And, we both agree, Rio would be at the top of the list of places we’d love to see again.