Brazil – Adventures in Rio – Part 1 of 3

Sophia and I have always wanted to go to Brazil. We had the opportunity when Sophia had an upcoming conference in Sao Paulo, and I decided to meet up with her afterwards in Rio de Janeiro for a holiday.

As neither of us had ever been to South America, Rio de Janeiro was a lot to take in. From the lush vegetation surrounding the city, monuments such as the towering Christ the Redeemer statue, to the colourful houses dotting the avenues of Rio, everything was new and exciting! The 9 days we had was enough to get a good taste of the city and it’s rich colourful character.

We opted to stay in the area of Santa Teresa, a “bohemian-style” district outside the more known areas of Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema.

The particular accommodation that we stayed at is a Bed and Breakfast called Casalegre Art Villa. An art themed Bed and Breakfast that featured a great breakfast and outdoor patio area…

cozy rooms (including a patio with a hammock)…

a little kitchenette…

and one of the most friendly and helpful staff we have ever had!

To top it all off, the daily breakfast was amazing! Of all the hotels, AirBnB, and Bed and Breakfasts we have stayed at, the Casalegre Art Villa is certainly in our top 5 for accommodations!

Our first day (asides from the mundane task of unpacking) was spent eating and drinking in the area. It’s also where we had our first taste of Açaí! While popular in North America, nothing can beat Açaí in Brazil. These fresh berries are pulverized into an ice-cream like paste, and served with granola and honey, and if you’re in Brazil, you owe it to yourself to try it, it tastes infinitely better than any Açaí I’ve tried in North America.

Day two had more excitement. We planned a hike to Morro Dois Irmãos.

The idea originally was to take the metro to the base of the Prasa da Vidigal (which is the favela entrance to Morro Dois Irmãos, as it inaccessible by taxi), and take the moto taxi (motorcyle taxi) up towards the top.

Instead, we ended up walking up the favela (which wasn’t dangerous (I hope!), but sometimes a bit scary and intimidating). It’s quite a hike, and we met someone who helped us reach the entrance, but he took us to Morro Menor (the smaller of the two mountains), which we hiked accidentally…twice!

It was a tough and long hike (we could of gone farther and higher if we had rock climbing gear), and the view wasn’t nearly as good as Morro Major’s would have been. By the time we were done hiking the same smaller mountain, we were way too tired to do Morro Dois Irmãos.

So as a word of advice, just take the Moto Taxi up. If you get lost and go up the wrong mountain, you will be disappointed!

After our misguided hike, we headed to the Jardim Botânico via bus.

The garden is a large and beautiful park full of Brazilian and foreign flowers and fauna. We spent hours walking through the pathways looking at all the diverse and beautiful landscaping.

That same night, we met up with some of Sophia’s coworkers that headed to Rio as well for dinner and drinks! We were so glad to come to Rio for a holiday!

Our third day in Rio however, was much more chill. After an extra long hike and tons of walking, we decided to head to Copacabana beach and relax. It was a bit overcast, so the sun wasn’t shining, and it was fairly empty….with the exception of people trying to sell you stuff. With the lack of people, but a surplus of beach sellers, we had people coming up to us every 5 minutes. It was not fun at all. Eventually they left us alone for the most part, but in all, way too many sellers on the beach.

That night, we ended up dining in. One thing we get tired of when we travel is constantly eating out, and we decided to change that a little. On the first day, we went to the grocery store and bought food for lunch (i.e. bread, spreads, etc..), as well as pasta and meats for dinner. We figured we would eat out half of our lunches, and a couple of dinners, and make food for ourselves the other times. Not only would it save us money, but it also helped our guts from getting too big!

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