Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rio de Janeiro | Brazil

Seven of us spent a week in magnificent Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city, where an urban meets beachfront hotspot is dominated by concrete skyscrapers that stand among the foothills of emerald green mountains. Along the legendary beaches of Guanabara Bay - the notorious and breathtaking Copacabana and Ipanema with their deep azure waters and illustrious white sand - we sipped coconuts, caipirinhas and local beers while we baked in the hot South American sun and swam in the warm Atlantic waters.  

We ate extremely well, often venturing out to the trendy neighborhood of Leblon for dinner. There was local cuisine at upscale and cozy bistros (Brigitte's, Zaza Bistro Tropical), Brazillian BBQ at fancy churrascarias (MaruisPorcao), and a most memorable sushi feast (Togu) - consider this my ringing endorsement for all the restaurants listed. I was consistently impressed with the cuisine as it varied from Argentinian steak, oxtail to octopus, tender hearts of palm salads and local grilled nomorado fish. Lunches on the beach were equally delicious - a pile of crispy fish fritters doused in lime, grilled sausage skewers, or shrimp empanadas always came hot and with a smile. And last but certainly not least, there was the street food. A real highlight of the eating experience, the small carts line the black and white tiled sidewalks selling treats like refreshing acai bowls with granola, steamed corn on the cob placed back in the husk and drenched in butter and cayenne, and churros - piping hot, coated in cinnamon-sugar and stuffed with doce de leite or chocolate. I was also a big fan of the Tapioca Recheada - Brazilian tapioca is similar to a crepe, but significantly thicker and more dense, stuffed with any combination of sweet (strawberries and chocolate, banana nutella) or savory (sun dried meats, curry chicken.)
We rang in the New Year at the infamous white party on Copacabana beach with two million others and the best fireworks I've seen to date. 
The nightlife scene in general is as vibrant as they come; a must-visit is Rio Scenaruim in Lapa (above) where in one room a local samba band jams late into the evening, in another a DJ spins the hits. The lively bars in Leblon and Ipanema see local crowds overflowing to dance and party outside. 
During the day, if we weren't on the beach, we were marveling in the presence of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) as he stands watching over the city from the top of Corcovado. Or we were Riding a gondola to the top of Pau de Acucar - Sugar Loaf Mountain, to take in the jaw dropping 360 degree views. 

One afternoon we went sailing with Cassio on his 40 foot boat "Kamehameha" around the striking green and rock landscapes of Guanabara bay, taking in the crowded shores of Copacabana from a different vantage point. We watched the sunset behind Corcovado and surrounding mountains from the marina.

It was an absolute dream. 

I have lots more pictures to share. I am hoping to be back here more than once a month in 2014! This year has many adventures in store. 

8 comments:

  1. Ummm, can I be there right now? Thanks.

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  2. As usual, your photography is breathtaking! My parents did the Rio Jazz Festival last year and loved the city too. You have me wanting to book a trip!

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  3. Aaaaah take me there right now! Gorgeous photos!

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  4. Great post! I love your exciting travel round-ups and your photos are beautiful, as usual.

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  5. We went there a few years ago and it was just incredible!!! So glad you got to experience that amazing city! Great photos!

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  6. Wow. I love all the photos. And the food descriptions. Glad you had a great time. We need to catch up soon!

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  7. Love your recap and your pictures are beautiful! What an exotic way to bring in 2014! You were experiencing fireworks in Brazil while I was in Killington, VT!

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