Wednesday, June 28, 2017

South America Destinations: Rio de Janeiro

My wife and I spent 10 day in South America in early June, visiting Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, and Buenos Aires.

Copacabana Beach
Our first stop was lively and colorful Rio, a city with nearly 7 million inhabitants. We stayed at a hotel located at the world-famous Copacabana Beach. It's fall there so the beach wasn't too crowded.

Christ the Redeemer

We made the usual tourist stops—riding cable cars to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for a breathtaking view of the city, taking a train to the summit of Corcovado Mountain to see the majestic Christ the Redeemer statue, and walking up the 215 tiled steps of the Selaron staircase in the Lapa district. I thought I saw the "Girl from Ipanema" walking on the sidewalk near the cafĂ© where the song was composed, but I'm sure it was my imagination.  It was still a nice thought.

So much to see and so little time.

Cables leading to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
Our guided tour also took us past the multi-colored favelas (where many of the poor reside in shacks) and areas where the rich live in high-rise apartments overlooking the beaches. The tour even included an optional trip to a favela. We didn't go but several of our fellow travelers who did said they were amazed how clean and tidy the residents kept their homes.

Our local guide, Eduardo, told us that children only attend public schools four hours a day because of the economy. The rich send their children to private schools. There's not much of a middle class. Not surprising, crime is also a problem in the city. 

Municipal Theatre

We did try to venture out from the hotel during our free time but found it difficult to navigate the city. We're urban hikers and like to make our own discoveries. We didn't see as much as we wanted to, such as churches, government buildings, and parks.

Carlos Braguinha statue
We stopped in several downtown shops and found the merchants to be friendly and helpful despite the language barrier (Portuguese). We walked to the Riosul  mall, which compares to upscale shopping places you'd find in the U.S.

Rio, founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, has a rich history and shows promise for a bright future. Many may remember that it hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics.

But it's a shame that there is so much graffiti marring public buildings, walls, and other places (we've also seen that in Roma and Budapest).

A selfie on the Selaron Staircase
Regardless, it was an unforgettable two days in Rio. We'd like to return and really get to know and understand this dynamic and diverse city. We left knowing that it has much more to offer visitors. 

Until the next time. . . . 


  1. I always wanted to go to Rio… your blog makes me even more interested. Wish I was able to travel like that. Hope you’ll keep traveling a long time so I can vicariously enjoy the places you visit. :D

    1. Thanks, Denise...I'll keep on traveling as long as I can pack bags and hit the road. I hope things work out so you can do the same.