Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.Neale Donald Walsch
Nov 30-Dec 5 2016
A city that needs no introduction, the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) of Rio de Janerio. Originally we weren’t planning to visit, but once we went through rather lengthy visa process we decided to add it as one of our stops. We are glad we did, spending just over a week in Rio with a visit to Ilha Grande in between.
Our first location was Arpoador, which is perfectly situated in the South Zone between the two main beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. During our return we stayed further north in the hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa, just outside the downtown and entertainment district known as Lapa. Overall the geography of the city was amazing and is probably the most beautiful urban area I have seen (Maggie said it was up there with Cape Town, South Africa). Between all of the hills and the lush landscape of being in a coastal tropical forest, plus the beautiful white sand beaches and colorful hillside favelas, there was always something to be snapping a photo of.
Only having a week compared to a month in Buenos Aires meant we stayed fairly busy seeing the sites. This included the Corcovado Mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located, the famous Sugarloaf Mountain which includes suspended cable car rides to get to the top, and of course the beaches. We also took a fantastic tour of Rocinha, the cities largest favela with over 200,000 residents. The tour was given by a residents who took great pride in showing their home. It was a very interesting and educational experience and really changed our opinion of what life in a favela is like.
Most importantly and a question we are sure to get asked is about safety, we had absolutely no problems and felt safe the entire time during our stay. Some of the other areas we checked out included Leblon, Botafago, Flamengo, and the area around Lagoa Rodrigo which included a wonderful visit to the botanical gardens. I also had the interesting experience of getting a tooth filling replaced, after having one fall out while I was in Iguazu Falls. Luckily, it ended up being less stressful (and less expensive) then the times I have had it done back in the States.
Next up is the island of Ilha Grande, just a couple of hours south, before we return again to Rio for a few days to stay in the Santa Teresa neighborhood.