Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Bom dia from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil! Rio de Janeiro is the sexiest city in the world. It’s where the “Girl from Ipanema” really exists. Located about a thousand miles south of
the equator, Rio offers steamy 80 degree temperatures for most of the year. The locals call themselves “Cariocas”. Cariocas love to exercise and show off their tans in the sveltest swimsuits allowed by law. When the sun starts to set, pick up futbol matches break out all over the beach. Brazilian Jujitsu dojos even train on the beach. Hang gliding from the cliffs to the beach is very popular. Swimming and surfing are a way of life for the Carioca. Like its residents, the city’s natural features are also stunning. Rio is comprised of large cliffs and hills that slope down into the harbour. The most prominent hill is Sugarloaf Mountain, named after a popular Brazilian bread. A cable car runs the length of the hill to take tourists to the summit. The most famous structure in Rio is the “Christ the Redeemer” statue known as the “Corcovada”. Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world and the Corcovada was a tribute to their faith. Finished in 1931, the Corcovada was recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Another Brazilian innovation was the Tijuca Falls urban rainforest. Most of the forest was decimated as the city grew. In the second half of the 19th century, Tijuca rainforest was planted by hand to improve the city’s water supply. The park has flourished over the years and offers all the trappings of an authentic rain forest just minutes from the bustling downtown shops – you have to see it to believe it.
Rio was colonized by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Its name means “River of January” and it was the capital of Brasil for nearly two centuries. The food is amazing and cheap. A typical meal would be a filet mignon in mushroom gravy and coconut rice for about 5 U.S. dollars. Ten percent was considered a generous gratuity. Brazilian beef is superb and the drinks were’t bad either. Caipirinha is the house specialty. It’s made with cachaca (distilled from fermented native Brazilian sugarcane), sugar and lime. We had a few of these tasty beverages on the rooftop sky bar our first night in Copacabana. When in Copa, one must dine in the Copacabana Hotel (yep – the same one from the song). The Copacabana is the poshest hotel in South America and arguably the most famous Hotel on earth (what other hotel has a song written about it – and no, the Hotel California is not a real venue). The rooms were too pricey for our budget (about $500 a night), but we had an amazing dinner for under $150 and lunch for less than $50.
Our favorite meals in Rio were Churrasco. Churrasco is an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of grilled meats and sides. You don’t leave your chair – servers promenade from table to table with huge skewers of meat and slice it for you until you say when. The food just keeps coming and coming. I put on nearly twenty pounds in one month in South America. I don’t know how the locals stay so thin!
Rio is a wild city. It is extremely dangerous at night if you are not careful. An American couple staying in our hotel were robbed at gunpoint while we were staying there. The gang violence dwarfs that of Washington DC. Police are armed with flak jackets and assault rifles. Apart from that, it’s a brilliant city and a smashing good time!
You can reach Rio with a 13-hour flight from B.W.I. Rio is three hours ahead of Ocean City. The people are generally friendly and in good spirits. The culture is very vibrant and bright colors give the city an artistic feel. We had a blast and would definitely recommend this spot – especially during Carnival (early February). Obrigado!
– Sean Rox