Bright colors, elaborate costumes, sultry samba sounds, and frivolous festivities: many people associate all these things with Rio de Janeiro because it is host to the biggest festival in the world: Carnaval. While it is the truth Rio is most famous for this world renown event, it is also the home to some of the most beautiful beaches and scenery in the world. Also, birthplace of Showtime’s Homeland star, Morena Baccarin, (see our interview with Morena Baccarin about her hometown on www.astarwasborn.com), Rio de Janeiro is a fabulous city to explore beyond the bright lights of Carnaval.
Rio de Janeiro is known as ciudade marvhilosa, or the “marvelous city” because it is the city to be in South America. The local Brazilians, known as Cariocas, have a zest for life that is unmatched by the rest of the world. At any given time during the day Cariocas may invite tourists to participate in a dance party, go surfing, or just enjoy the moment with them. It is hard not to enjoy life in the Zona Sul (southern zone in Rio de Janeiro) where the beach culture captivates all who enter. Rio de Janeiro is an underrated vacation spot that all who experience, are forever changed by.
Brazil is located in the southern half of South America with Rio on its Atlantic coast line. The location makes Rio a prime city for some of the most beautiful beaches with the best waves in the world. One beach that has become quite famous over the years is Copacabana Beach. Copacabana Beach is the longest beach in Rio, stretching about two and a half miles long. Along with being Rio’s most famous beach, Copacabana is famous for the Portuguese black and white pavement art that runs along the beach. This area has the most sought out hotels and restaurants in all of Rio. Beach activities include everything from surfing to shopping at the local vendors that set up shop on the beach.
Just around the corner is another popular beach in Rio called Ipanema. Ipanema is not as crowded as Copacabana, but has just as much to offer. Like Copacabana there are vendors and a ton of beach activities to participate in. As an added bonus to Ipanema, our featured celebrity, Morena Baccarin, is a native of Ipanema, and quotes, “It’s the most gorgeous beach you will ever see in your life.”
Even though there are tons of beaches in Rio, one more that is considered a hidden gem is Prainha. Prainha is more of a private and secluded beach for the tourist that is all about taking in the scenery. While there is no such thing as a “bad view” on the Rio beaches, Prainha holds all the best views. This beach was rated one of the best among tourists who were lucky enough to find it among Rio’s stunning beaches.
Fun at the beach is not the only thing Rio has to offer its guests. There are a few sites that are customary to visit while in town. The most famous site is the Christ the Redeemer Statue which stands on top of Corcovado Mountain. Not only is this statue a famous symbol for Christianity and world peace, it is a stunning overlook of the entire city. Tourists should make a point to take time out of their trip to see such a wonder.
Another beauty Rio has to offer is Sugar Loaf Mountain. Sugar Loaf Mountain is named after what it looks like, a large mound of sugar. It is located on a peninsula between Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Many travellers take a cable car up the mountain for breathtaking views and to explore the park surrounding it.
What many tourists may forget when in Rio is that it is in fact part of a Rainforest. Tijuca Forest is considered the largest urban forest in the world. For tourists interested in getting a taste of the rainforest, this is the place to be. Tijuca Forest allows travelers to be up close and personal with the natural aspects of Rio, while keeping them on the comfort of a tour. Some of these tours even include visits to all three of the aformentioned sites in one day. While exploring the natural part of Rio, tourists are invited to participate in activities like surfing, hang gliding, boating, hiking, paragliding, climbing, and diving.
For those not so keen on being one with nature, Rio still has exciting days for its tourists. It is important not to forget that Rio is an urban city. Downtown Rio is filled with old Cathedrals, Modern Art Museums, shopping, The Rio Zoo, Botanical Gardens, and plenty more to do while vacationing.
The nightlife in Rio de Janeiro is some of the most invigorating in the world. Rio has a typical bar and night club scene that every city has except for one factor, their nightlife is almost always takes place on the beach. Travelers can enjoy the sunset (maybe even the sunrise) and party into the night as they sip on their guaranteed fruity cocktails. The best way to immerse yourself in the real Rio nightlife culture though, is to go to a Samba club. Samba clubs are where the Cariocas go to dance at night. There is always a live band playing and plenty of great songs to tear up the dance floor to. Carioca da Gema is a widely reccomended Casa da Samba (house of Samba) in the neighborhood of Lapa. Lapa is a neighborhood full of of Casa da Samba’s so tourists are bound to stumble upon one sooner or later. Usually the natives of Rio attend a bar earlier in the night and then go out dancing at a club or a Casa da Samba later.
Carnaval is a celebration just before the start of the Christian holiday, Lent, that takes place all over the world. People eat and drink in preparation for the fasting period. Though many can say their city has a big party in honor of Carnaval, nobody can say their city does it as big as Rio de Janeiro. Every year millions flock to Rio to participate in the festivities produced by those involved in Carnaval. The large party is actually a parade filled with samba dancing, music, and entertainment while the millions of people revel in the streets. The most recognizable symbol of Carnaval are the samba dancers in ornate and colorful costumes. For the people of Rio, it is an honor to host and participate in Carnaval. This year, Carnaval will commence on Friday February 8th, and ends on Fat Tuesday February 12th. To learn more about Carnaval 2013, visit its website, http://www.rio-carnival.net/rio_carnival/rio_carnival_programs.php
In addition to the annual Carnaval, there are a few other big events Brazil is looking forward to. In June 2014, Brazil will be hosting the FIFA World Cup, which is an honor as many soccer fans would know. To follow that, in 2016 the Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil has a few exciting years in the making.
What is experiencing another culture without indulging in some local cuisines? Rio de Janeiro has perfected many dishes that travelers are more than happy to satisfy their appetite with. The most traditional dish, which is a Portuguese delicacy, is Churrasco. Churrasco is any type of meat: chicken, pork, steak, lamb, roasted on a stick. The meat is even served to diners as the cook cuts it fresh off the stick. The national dish of Brazil that is often served in Rio is the feijoada. This meal is served with pork, rice, black beans, and is garnished in black pepper and orange peels. Feijoadais most commonly served on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Another famous delicacy that correlates to Rio’s coast side location is leao veloso, which is essentially fish soup. It contains lobsters, shrimp, fish heads, onions, and tomatoes. For dessert, a coconut cake called, quindim, is a delicious reccomendation. Lastly, its proximity to the Rainforest gives Rio the advantage of having some of the freshest fruit in the world. It is very common to find people sipping on natural fruit juices, especially coconut juice, all day long under the sun.
Rio is a city so it has tons of great shopping, but some argue that Rio’s best shopping is on its beaches. Brazil is known for its exports of bathing suits and colorful gem stones, both of which are sold at vendors on the beaches. Tourists find vendors to be the most desirable shopping when traveling in Rio. Another great place is the Hippie Market in Ipanema. This market is open on Sundays and is a great little flea market for the tourist interested in buying art or rare finds while in Rio. It is located right at the end of the metro line in Ipanema.
To learn more about the stunning city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, visit: http://www.braziltour.com