Fabulous and Famous – Rio de Janeiro

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rio-de-janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere and is known for its carnival celebrations, beaches and natural settings. The most fabulous and famous landmark is the statue of the Christ the Redeemer atop the Corcovado Mountain that watches over the city. The statue is the second largest of Christ in the world. (The largest is in Swiebodzin, Poland, built in 2010). The Sugarloaf Mountain has a cable car and offers an amazing view of the city and the ocean. The shiny red cable car floats incongruously above the cluttered rooftops of Complexo do Alemão favela in northern Rio de Janeiro. Rio is also home to the world’s largest football stadium, the Maracaná Stadium, and will host the final match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and lies between the mountains and the ocean. The city is located on the shores of Guanabara Bay and the “Centro” of Rio lies on the plains of the western shore of the bay. The beaches (south zone) are cut off from the core of Rio (center) by the offshoots of the ancient Serra do Mar Mountains. The south zone includes well-known beaches such as Copacabana, Leme, Conrado, Ipanema and Arpoador. Copacabana is well-known for the four kilometres (2.5 miles) long pavement with its geometric wave design, sprawling beaches, parties and beautiful women.

Copacobana Beach

The citizens of Rio call themselves Cariocas and they love the beach, sea, sun and parties. The women are known for their tanned skin and body shapes. The city is an absolute perfect blend of beach and city. It is pretty common to find business suits in beach restaurants. The exceptional integration of beach, city, style, food, dancing and music are the foundations of the Carioca lifestyle. Every December 31st, millions of people gather at Copacabana Beach to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The majority of the crowd usually dress in white and chilled champagne adds to the spirit of the festivities.

Tourists pour into the city to celebrate with the Brazilians during the month of February. The Carnival is the most popular event in Rio and typically occurs immediately before Lent in late February and ends on Ash Wednesday. Band parades, floats, colorful costumes, Samba dancers, live music and the irresistible beats of the drums make the crowd explode in a colorful fantasy festival. 

rio-carnival-girl

Interesting facts about the Carnival:

  • The Carnival marks the beginning of Lent, the forty day sacrifice period before Easter;
  • The Carnival dates back to 1723;
  • During the Carnival, more than two million people are on the streets every day;
  • The location for the main parades take place in the Sambódromo (the Sambódromo, meaning the “stadium of samba” is all about the pulsating beat of the bateria, or percussionists of the samba schools);
  • The Carnival is declared a national holiday in Brazil;
  • The Carnival is the largest party in the world for four continues days;
  • Party-goers are entertained with street bands, orchestras and singers;
  • The samba schools are judged on their costumes, dancing, music and floats and some schools spend around $3 million on preparations and outfits;
  • The mayor hands over the giant gold and silver key to the Fat King just before the Carnival begins;
  • The Carnival creates almost a ¼ of a million jobs;
  • The festivities attract celebrities such as Gangman Style star Psy and Jennifer Lopez.

What can you eat at the Carnival?

Hamburgers, French fries and hot dogs are available at the pushcart vendors who always find a spot along the curbs. Typical pastries are coxinha (chicken nugget shaped like a chicken leg) and unique Rio’s joelho (rolled dough filled with ham and cheese). Grilled meat-on-a-skewer (espetinhos) is a traditional carnival favorite, rolled in manioc flour and topped with ketchup or hot sauce. After a day or two of eating meat, you may want to try milho verde (corn served with butter). Quiejo coalho is a salty Brazilian cheese that is grilled on a stick and can easily become an addiction. Tapioca is a delicious sweet treat, made of sweet cheese, coconut and condensed milk and is appreciated by most of the people.

Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

The cuisine in Rio is influenced by the Native Americans, Portuguese, Africans, French and Italians. The capital of nightlife is a paradise for dining. Being close to the sea also means an unsurpassed selection of fine sea food, including fresh lobster, shrimp, shellfish and numerous fishes. The feijoada (a hearty black bean and mixed meat stew that is often called the national dish of Brazil), served on Wednesdays and Saturdays, is the only genuine dish created by the people from Rio.

Churrasco is a popular dish in Rio. Waiters slice off huge pieces of barbecued beef, pork, and other meats, and serve it with manioc and onions. A simple and usually inexpensive option (recommended for vegetarians) is comida à quilo or comida por quilo restaurants (food by kilo value), a buffet where food is paid for by weight.

food in Rio

  • Bacalhau do Rei: R. Marquês de São Vicente, 11 – Gávea, Rio de Janeiro, 22451-041, Brazil – Phone: +55 21 2239-8945 – If you like cod fish, this is definitely the place to be.
  • Porcão Ipanema: R. Barão da Torre, 218 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, 22411-000, Brazil – Phone: +55 21 3202-9150: Highlights also include the side dishes that are served upon customer request. Some of the accompaniments include: carpaccio, shrimp, various pastéis (stuffed breaded appetizers), potatoes, bananas, and many other options. This is an ‘all you can eat’ dining experience so come hungry! The quality of the food as well as the variety is outstanding.
  • Antiquarius Restaurante: R. Aristides Espínola, 19 – Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, 22440-050, Brazil – Phone: +55 21 2294-1049: They are very friendly, professional and knowledgeable. Very upscale restaurant. Dress up. The menu is Portuguese. Try any of the codfish variations.
  • Zazá Bistrô Tropical: R. Joana Angélica, 40 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, 22420-030, Brazil – Phone: +55 21 2247-9101 – Inside an art-filled and whimsically decorated converted house, Zazá serves satisfying dishes with Eastern accents, and uses organic ingredients when possible.
  • Bistro Ouvidor: Rua Ouvidor 52, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Phone: 2509-5883: Excellent wine list with fair prices. Pleasant environment. The food is of excellent quality and very tasty. Great dishes to try include steak with chimichurri and lamb lasagna Mediterranean.

Attractions in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is divided into the historic center, the South Zone, North Zone, West Zone and Barra da Tijuca district. The center of Rio is home to many historic churches and monasteries, such as the Candelária Church, Sao Jose, Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Santa Lucia and the monastery of Santo Antonio and Sao Bento. Rio Janeiro’s Theatro Municipal is one of the most stunning buildings in the downtown area of and is home to one of the largest stages in Latin America and one of Brazil’s most well known venues for opera, ballet, and classical music

Famous landmarks include the modern Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Fine Arts) and the National Historical Museum. The 18th-century public garden, Passeio Público, is one of the main attractions in the historic center.

The South Zone is the wealthiest part of Rio and Leblon is home to the most expensive real estate in South America. Copacabana is the most popular beach in this area. Contains some of the major tourist sites, such as the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and Sugar Loaf and Corcovado Mountains.The Tijuca National Park is an urban forest in the South Zone and Brazil’s top private university is located at the edge of the forest.

The North Zone is home to Quinta da Boa Vista Park with the National Museum, the city’s Zoo and the National Observatory. The North Zone is also home to the Maracaná Stadium and can hold around 200,000 people. The image below is a night view of the stadium.

Maracana Night View

The Quinta da Boa Vista, the park where the historic Imperial Palace is located, is also situated in the North Zone. The area is home to most of the samba schools and shanty towns (favelas). Below is an image of a shanty town in North Zone.

Favela da Rocinha, Morro Dois Irmãos;;Rio de Janeiro – RJ

The best-known favelas (shanty towns) are those that cling to steep hillsides in Rio de Janeiro. Favelas housing generally begins with makeshift structures fashioned from wood scraps and daub. Over time more-durable materials such as brick, cinder blocks, and sheet metal are incorporated. Cable cars over Alemao Shantytown operate daily, Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday and holidays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the main cable car station is located at Bonsucesso. You can get there by taxi; by metro to Central do Brasil, then by train to Vila Inhomirin; or by any number of buses to Praca das Nacoes, also Praca Paul Harris, in the Bonsucesso neighborhood.

Santa Cruz, located in the West Zone, is the largest and most populous neighborhood in Rio and includes the districts of Jacarepaguá and Barra da Tijuca (popular for its beaches). Most of the Olympics in 2016 will be hosted there. The area is separated from the Barra da Tijuca by the Serra da Grota Funda and Macico da Pedra Branca. The Campo Grande neighborhood exhibits economic growth as industrial enterprises are being built and a new steel mill with its own docks at Sepetiba Bay is South America’s largest steel works.

If you plan on staying in Rio for more than a couple of days it would be good to invest in a copy of “How to be a Carioca“ by Priscilla Ann Goslin, Livros TwoCan Ltda. The book reveals in-depth knowledge of the people of Rio and will help you enjoy the city.

Galeao1

International and most domestic flights land at Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International AirportTel: +55 21 3398-5050 (fax 3393-2288). This airport is approximately 20 km away from the city centre and main hotels. While you can sometimes zoom through Immigration and Customs, be prepared for a long wait. Brazilians travel with lots of baggage and long queues can form at Customs.

011Now – International calls for less

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One Response to “Fabulous and Famous – Rio de Janeiro”

  1. Riekie Karstens Says:

    A very good article. I wish I could visit this amazing city!

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