BRAZIL PART TWO: RIO DE JAINERO
So now it’s time for me to tell you about the second part of our Brazilian adventure! After a week of relaxation in paradise, we headed back to Rio de Jainero. While most people visit Rio for its beaches, we had a different agenda! We stayed in Santa Teresa which is a cute bohemian city not too far from downtown Rio.
SANTA TERESA This city is known as the artistic heart of Rio. The streets are lined with old mansions that were once home to the city’s wealthy elite which now functions as art studios, restaurants, and hotels. I loved this area. We spent a full day just walking throughout the hilltop town, checking out the local shops and restaurants, as well as all of the awesome street art.
My boyfriend had booked another incredible Airbnb in the heart of Santa Teresa which is the cutest bohemian city in Rio. It’s known for its cobbled streets, funky street art, cozy cafes and relaxed feel. And our Airbnb, WOW! The owners are both architects and the apartment was incredible; it was exactly as it’s pictured. It was the most stylish studio with the most breathtaking panoramic view of Rio; including Sugarloaf and Christ The Redeemer. We caught sunrises and sunsets on our balcony every day; with a glass of wine for the sunset of course!
THINGS TO DO
PARQUE DAS RUINAS Located in Santa Teresa Hill, this park has one of the most beautiful views of the city. The park contains the ruins of a mansion that once belonged to Brazilian heiress Laurinda Santos Lobos. Her house was a meeting point for Rio’s artists for many years. There just so happened to be a food festival going on within the park on the day we visited which was awesome, but either way, this is a must see!
JARDIM BOTANICO Home to some of Brazil’s rarest and exotic plants, Jardim Botanico is a tropical jungle you can get lost in and still easily find your way back out. It is a large open garden composed of beautiful greenhouses, gazebos, and much more. Our favorite part was the Orchidarium; it was an entire greenhouse filled with hundreds of different Orchid varieties. It was beautiful! We were also greeted by a bunch of monkeys swinging throughout the trees!
LAGOA RODRIGO DE FREITAS Known as “the heart of Rio de Janeiro”, Lagoa is a natural lake in the south area of the city. It’s not too far from Jardim Botanico, so if you want to make a day of the two of these, you won’t be disappointed. The lake is encircled by a 7.2km walking and cycling path where you can rent bikes as well as paddle boats. There is a lakefront complex called Lagoon that has restaurants, a movie theater, and a bar. On the day we went to Lagoon, there was another food festival; they must have known we were coming! It was awesome. They had live music, local vendors and breweries and delicious food. And you get the best views from the 2nd floor!
COPACABANA & IPANEMA BEACH Obviously it wouldn’t be a trip to Rio without visiting the two most iconic beaches; Copacabana and Ipanema! The beach is divided into 12 different postos that are used as markers to divide each section of the beach. Check out The Culture Trip’s guide to the postos here We spent one night in Copacabana and I swear that city never sleeps! When we arrived Saturday night, everyone was partying on the beach and at the bars that lined the sidewalk; when we woke up Sunday morning (at 9 AM mind you) everyone was still going! But hey, they’re just having a good time. Everyone was so friendly too!
ESCADARIA SELARÓN These vibrant steps can be found at the entrance of Lapa and extend up to the hillside of Santa Teresa. The steps were made by hand by Chilean-born Jorge Selarón. He pieced together bits of different colored tiles to create a 410-foot long mosaic; which is now one of the most famous staircases in the world.
WHERE TO EAT
BAR DO MINEIRO This lively hole-in-the-wall bar sits in the heart of Santa Teresa and attracts loyal customers from all over the city. The bar is the perfect casual destination that serves up a some of the most delicious Brazilian staples. This is where you eat the traditional dish; Feijoada. It’s bean stew with collard greens and lots of different meats.
CULTIVAR The BEST acai I’ve ever had. Cultivar is in the heart of Santa Teresa and hard to even find considering there’s no sign whatsoever. Just make a mental note that it’s across the street from Bar do Minero. Every time we passed by there was a line out the door. The acai bowl is super simple and SO delicious served with a mini side of homemade granola. The small is HUGE and definitely big enough for two people. Also, make sure to also get their pao de queijo; it’s basically cheese bread puffs and they’re BOM! This place is a must!
GAROTA DE IPANEMA Named after the famous song “Girl from Ipanema”, this is the most famous restaurant in Ipanema. I’m not usually one to hit up the touristy spots, but this one is worth it! Once we were seated, it didn’t feel as touristy as one would think. Brazil is known for their grilled meat so it was only fitting that we tried one of their grill platters (also- everyone around us was ordering the same!) You must order the picanha! It’s a cut of steak that comes served on a sizzling grill platter so it cooks on your table. It’s served with fries, farofa, salsa, and rice. YUM!
ALFAIA This was my favorite! It’s an incredible Portuguese restaurant in Copacabana known for their cod dishes, but they had plenty of other delicious options as well. The atmosphere was cozy and welcoming with a simple, rustic decor. The staff was beyond friendly and many of them spoke English which was nice. I highly recommend this place if you’re looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-track.
CAFÉ DO ALTO A trendy, rustic café in the heart of Santa Teresa. My boyfriend and I stumbled across this restaurant while we were exploring Santa Teresa one day and I’m so glad we did. It has the best weekend brunch in the area and their iced coffee was AMAZE! Everything was so fresh and delicious. They also have an awesome selection of Brazilian craft beers.
LA BICYCLETTE This is the cutest French bakery and café right near the entrance of Jardim Botanico. It’s a great place to stop for breakfast on your way to the gardens. It’s simple and delicious French cuisine. My boyfriend and I shared the salmon breakfast which came with a huge bread basket (with incredible croissants obvy!), homemade jelly, ricotta cheese and a parfait; perfect for two people. Definitely recommend this place for breakfast if you’re near the gardens.
FOGO DE CHAO You cannot go to Brazil without eating at a churrascaria which is a traditional barbecue restaurant. Rio has some of the best churrascarias in Brazil. Waiters walk around from table to table with larger skewers of lamb, chicken and various beef cuts for diners to choose from. At Fogo de Chao, guests receive a two-sided disk that they can flip back and forth from red to green whenever they feel like having more food; it’s hilarious! This restaurant was beautiful though; it sits next to the Sugar Loaf Mountain which made it even more memorable.
Our Brazilian adventure went out with a bang. The last two nights of our trip, we attended Rock in Rio; it was unbelievable. It was unlike any other music festival I’ve ever been to. And the coolest part? The festival was held in the stadiums where the Olympics were!
So originally, we were only attending Sunday night, which was the last night, to see Red Hot Chili Peppers because those were the tickets my boyfriend got me for Christmas. Which was fine by me because that’s all I cared about! Well, guess what?! We got to go Saturday night too; FOR FREE! How you ask!? My boyfriend’s brother grew up with Chris Kilmore, who is the DJ/keyboardist for Incubus, and they were playing Saturday night at Rock in Rio. Long story short, his brother called Chris and hooked us up with tickets to Saturdays show; UNREAL! Sunday night was RHCP and it was one of the best nights of my life. It was the perfect way to end what was the absolute best trip of our lives!
And if you’re heading to Brazil soon, here are a few essential phrases/words to memorize before you arrive!
- Bom dia/Boa tarde/Boa noite= Good morning/Good afternoon/ Goodnight
- Oi/Olá= Hello
- Por favor = please
- Sim= yes
- Banheiro= bathroom
- Caixa electronico= ATM
- Bom = good
- Obrigado = Thank you
- A conta, por favor = I want the bill please
- Onde esta = Where is…
- Onde fica o banheiro? = Where is the bathroom?
- Quanto custa isso? = how much is this?