Rio de Janeiro – The final South American stop

The final post of an amazing trip is always the most difficult to post because at this point, I have settled back into real life and am attempting to do my second-to-least favorite thing, unpack. (Note: my least favorite is actually doing the packing). On Wednesday, we left beautiful Salvador for another amazing city, Rio de Janeiro.

We arrived around 3pm to Rio after an easy hour and 45 minute flight. We took a taxi to the incredible hotel, The Fasano. Someone told us before we left that we would have a hard time leaving the hotel and boy were they right! The infinity pool at the hotel that sits right on Ipanema beach is magnificent.  

    
   

When we arrived and settled into our room, we had caprinhias at the pool and then got ready for the event of the evening – a Brazil Cup football (soccer) match. This match was played at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio and was a match between two local teams Flamengo and Vasco. It was such a cool experience to be there cheering on the teams. The stadium was louder than most American sporting events we have been to! 

  
On our second day, we woke up early and went straight up to the roof to enjoy the pool. We wanted to be sure to take in some rays today since the next day was a bit cooler and we figured would be a better day to sightsee. The clouds were supposed to roll in a bit later in the day so we booked a tour for the afternoon. For breakfast, we got acai bowls – one of my favorite things to eat in New York. Acai is a reddish-purple fruit that comes from acai palm trees that are in South America. I got mine with banana and granola in it and it was delicious!  

 
After we ate breakfast, we walked around Ipanema beach, ate a delicious lunch of too many appetizers at this cute cafe called Felice Cafe that was recommended by the hotel. Around 2:15pm we were picked up by a van from our hotel to go on our favela tour. The word “favela” means slum in Portuguese. These favelas are so interesting because they mostly sit on two or three mains roads then houses are built up around them and they contain these mazes of alleys and stairs to get up. Many of the residents do not pay for electricity or water and just steal it from the electrical poles. Some families have owned their homes for so long that they do not even pay rent. The drug dealing and other crime in favelas used to be much worse but since their recent pacification in 2008, the crime has decreased. Since then, people have begun touring favelas, staying at hostels and even attending parties in favelas. It has become an interesting part of the culture in Brazil and is very interesting to see. We visited Rochina, the largest favela in Rio, and Vila Canoas.  

    
   
My favorite part of the tour was visiting this after school program in Vila Canoas. We learned that children in public schools are only in school until around noon and sometimes show up with no teachers because they are often on strike. The public schools in Rio do not provide enough support for their students. As a future educator, this broke my heart. It was very special being able to walk around the school, see the classrooms and some of the children. Visit Para Ti Website Here  

   
After our tour was over, we went out to this dinner at a restaurant that was recommended by the hotel in an area called Leblon. They informed us that Giuseppe Grill was the best meat and fish in the city. We enjoyed the decor and had a good meal but did not find it to be any better than some restaurants in New York. Thus far, Salvador was taking the cake for best food!

Our third day was our day of Rio tourism! We began with acai bowls and then took a taxi to the base of Corcovado, a mountain in Rio. We took a train to the top of Corcovado to see the most famous monument in Rio – Christ the Redeemer. The statue sits on the tallest mountain in Rio and is 13 stories high and overlook and blesses the entire city. It is really massive when you are up close but we didn’t admire its beauty for too long being the good jews that we are!  

    
   
After our train ride down Corcovado, we headed to our next tourist spot – Escadaria Selaron, the stairs of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron. These beautiful steps are located in the Lapa area and are covered in tiles from over 60 different countries. We walked up and down admiring all the different tiles and searched for a tile of Boston but were only able to find New York City (and Chicago, Alaska, Georgia, Maine… very odd our hometown wasn’t included!)  

    
 
Next, we walked through the city to the business center of town and ate at this 120 year old restaurant called Confeitaria Colombo. The restaurant had massive ceilings and the walls were adorned with mirrors. We had a very decadent lunch!  

 
The last stop on our day of Rio tourism was Pao do Acucar or Sugarloaf mountain. Everyone told us how incredible the views from Sugarloaf were but it wasn’t until we took the two cable cars up the mountain that we could really understand what they meant. You can really see the entire city with its beaches, favelas and mountains and it was spectacular!  

    
 
We were exhausted form our busy day so we took a nap then went out to dinner at Restaurant MEE, an Asian fusion Michelin star restaurant at Copacabana Palace. We had a delicious late dinner with a bottle of sake to celebrate our final night in Rio. Our trip went by so quickly! That night, we decided to go out on the town. Per some recommendations from friends, we headed to Rio Scenarium, a huge samba club. We had a fun night dancing on the different floors to Brazilian music. After, we headed to the hotel and discovered that the bar at our hotel turns into a small nightclub at night so we had a glass of wine there then headed to bed. We had such a blast on our night out in Rio!

The next morning was our final day in Rio. We checked out of our hotel then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the rooftop pool at the Fasano until our 9pm flight back to New York. Our trip was so incredible and I cannot believe it has been a week since we left! Until the next trip…

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