Here is a guide on How to do Rio de Janeiro in 1 day. Rio is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere and with good reason. Christ the redeemer, Sugar loaf Mountain, Copacabana beach where the string bikini and flip-flops were invented, Ipanema beach, the Carnival Street, Maracana stadium and Seleron stairs made it a magical 1 day in Rio de Janeiro. It was all the more fun doing all this as a vegetarian and someone who could not speak Portuguese!
Taxi is the best way to get around in Rio. Yellow taxis with blue strips are reliable, cheap and can be taken right from the Airport. If you want swankier cars, costlier private taxis are also available. It is a good idea to write the address of your destination and show to the driver as many of them speak only Portuguese but can read English.
Rio is notorious for traffic jams. So plan your trips keeping peak hour rush in mind. It is advisable to build in buffer of an extra hour if you have to catch a flight.
There are a slew of hotels facing the Copacabana beach and easily one of the best places to stay in Rio. But do remember that Rio is one of the most expensive cities for Hotels. I was lucky to get a hotel facing the Copacabana Beach which was under renovation and gave a discount! The hotel is called Atlantico Praia and is near the famed Copabana Palace Hotel. It was in shambles due to the renovation but then i had only to spend a night and the discount was good.
If you are the kind of person who wants to be where the action is then head to Rio for New Year's Eve or mid-February for the Carnival. As millions descend to Rio during this time, advance booking would be a must. If you hate crowds and noise then any time other than these two periods would be fine. Spring months of Sep and Oct are the most pleasant times to visit Rio de Janeiro.
There would not be many people in this world who have not seen Christ the Redeemer on TV or in a magazine. It is spell bounding when you see it in person. The largest Art Deco statue in the world simply stuns you. Christ the redeemer remains the icon of Rio and Brazil for good reasons. The statue is made up of soapstone and concrete. It was designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted by Frenchman Paul Landowski. Nearly a hundred feet tall, the first sight of Christ up close is magical. The open arms of Christ welcome one and all.
There is a view point from where you can see all of Rio.
One the way back from Christ the redeemer, I spotted this cute monkey. It was a star attraction with tourists ogling at it. But he seemed to be enjoying all the attention.
The incredibly beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain is located on the mouth of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. It got its name due to its resemblance to the shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar! The journey to Sugarloaf Mountain itself is exciting. There is a cable car that takes you all the way over 1400 metres form the ground through the peaks of Pão de Açúcar and Morro da Urca.
The ride offers a panoramic view of the valley beneath. The cable car scene in James Bond movie Moonraker was shot here. In the movie, Jaws the gargantuan villain destroys the cable car before being killed by Roger Moore!
Copacabana is deservedly the most popular beach in the world. Legend has it that the string bikini and flip-flops were invented here! The promenade along the Atlantic Ocean is very beautiful and dotted with Hotels, restaurants, bars and night clubs. Copacabana beach is always busy with people and their passion. There are soccer players in action screaming their anthems, favela kids displaying their skills with the ball, sun bathers, walkers and joggers with pets, hawkers marketing their wares and many more. Hang around Posto 9 if you want to catch some celebrities. There are plenty of delectable food options along the Copacabana beach. I loved the sandwiches at Cervates. The local people buy their fish from the fishing community who sell their wares near the Copacabana fortress. You can also buy oysters from here.
The sidewalks along the Copacabana beach can get seedy at night and so one need to exercise caution.
While Ipanema Beach is adjacent to Copacabana, it is very different in its character. Ipanema has always been a trend setter when it comes to beach chic. Ipanema beach was the birthplace of fads like the Tonga bikini, dental floss bikini and the crocheted G-string for men! I enjoyed my walk down Rua Vincius de Morais. The famous Garota de Ipanema bar where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Morais penned the lyrics to "The Girl from Ipanema, is located here. I was told the Hippie fair on Sundays is another must see for bargains on local art work. The best way to explore Ipanema is to hire a chair and an umbrella and camp with a cool drink and soak in the experience.
The Carnival in Rio is clearly the biggest carnival in the world with more than 2 million visitors. It is usually held just before Lent. I came to Rio in July and the Carnival Street was deserted with not even a crow to be seen! Nevertheless, it was memorable to see the street where the madness descends every year! I did hop into a consume shop on the street and posed for some snaps with the colourful costumes.
The Maracana stadium still evokes memories of the upset win of Uruguay over Brazil in the 1950 world cup. It is considered a national calamity in Brazil. The elliptical structure of the Maracana stadium catches your attention from far corners of the city. More than a stadium, Maracana is a temple of world soccer!
I could never imagine stairs could be so colourful until I visited Escadaria Selarón. The most popular steps of the world are between Joaquim Silva Street and Pinto Martins Street of Rio de Janeiro. The story behind these steps is very interesting. Jorge Selarón, a Chilean living in Rio, was bothered by the state of dilapitated steps leading to his house. He started by putting up colourful tiles on the broken steps. This became an obsession and soon he ran out of money. He sold his paintings and got more tiles. Over time he started getting tiles from donors from all over the world. Today there are more than 2000 steps.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the very first set of tiles were about Hindu Gods of Shiva, Balaji and Murugan!
It was a fitting end to a wonderful trip to Rio de Janeiro in 1 day and a reminder to get back home.
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