Rio. Rio. Rio. This city stole my heart, from the second I arrived. It's covered in beauty. No matter where you are in Rio, you're surrounded by dark green hills, golden infinite beaches, deep blue skies and intense vegetation... So much that when walking in the street you barely see the sky!
The first few days were really an adaptation to the culture choc I experienced. Not only for the different language (thank you uber driver, but odds are, if I didn't understand your sentence the first time I won't understand it the 5th or 6th other attempts either) and for the dramatic scenery, but also for the people. Truly beautiful people, inside and (mostly) out. They are so in shapes and taking care of themselves, that it can be a little overwhelming at first. But once you actually talk to these perfect creatures (no but seriously, they seem to be coming straight out of instagram) you realise that they are extremely friendly and open minded. Always smiling, and enjoying life. People seem genuinely happy, and it's almost contagious. Any day (or night, rain or shine, you find them running, meeting up, laughing, hanging outside in little bistro and terraces. If anything, Rio is a city that celebrates the living and that's why I loved it so much. But it's also for these 10 THINGS THAT I EXPERIENCED (and that you should too):
SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN (Pão de Açúcar) Undoubtly the best view over the city. Did that the first day and it was great to give me an understanding of the city's structure. See N°7 for map.
IPANEMA & LEBLON BEACH Obviously when you get into a routine of starting the day by walking along that gorgeous beach (or sitting, for the lazy days) it's hard not to put it in the very top 10. Barracas (beach stalls) wait for you with chairs, umbrellas and all sorts of beverages (costs almost nothing). So you don't need anything, you can just sit as soon as you arrive, sip on your coconut water and watch the surfers / volleyballers / muscle boys, you name it!
DISCOVER THE NIGHLIFE Innocent me had no idea that hanging out on a monday night could be one of the wildest party. I'm talking about the historical Pedra do Salthat's held in Centroevery Mondays and Fridays. People gather, drink, celebrate (yes, Mondays should be celebrated) while the live Samba is loudly playing!
So you might be wondering how i got into all these crazy parties? Well thanks to CouchsurfingI got to meet a lot of awesome people. (Btw, if you want tips on how to use CS it'shere). But really no matter the day of the week in Rio, there are always people hanging out at bars and party's going on, it's only a matter of enjoying your time!
TRY THE AÇAI JUICE They serve it everywhere and it's special (in a very good way).
THE BOTANICAL GARDEN I know, it doesn't seems like the most exciting place. But... it was. The whole tropical vegetations, the huge trees, big alleys, the fountains... and the peaceful atmosphere.
THE LAGOON (or Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) With a 7 km circumference, it's a fun/chill walk or bike ride at the end of the afternoon (when you dont feel like plunging in a swimming pool full of ice cubes anymore). Little fact: that's where a big part of the Olympics are going to be held this summer!
SANTA TERESA & THE OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS Santa Teresa is a little village-looking neighborhood on top of the hill with amazing views over the city. I got there while driving all around the city - which i highly suggest of doing. That way you get a feeling of all the different vibes. All the neighborhoods are different from one another, and the contrasts are so strong that you wouldn't believe you're driving through the same city.
THE SCHOOL OF VISUAL ART No, I didn't miss Art School so much during my break that I had to run to the closest one. The School Of Visual Art is simply something to see while in Rio. Not only is it a wonderful building in the middle of a beautiful parc, but you can can have lunch in the patio, which is very intimate and peaceful - loved seeing artist working on their projects.
THE MUSEUM OF TOMORROW A building that moves? Uh, is that real? It sure is in Rio! The Museum of Tomorrow opened just a few months ago and it's experiencing such a success that the waiting line is usually about 2 hours. To avoid that, we sneaked in on a late rainy wednesday afternoon, an hour before closure and just walked right in. If you know me, you know that I'm allergic to museums (unfortunately they still haven't found a remedy for that one yet), but the MOT was truly an amazing experience. It is not a museum in the classical term - meaning you don't walk from one room to the other pretending to understand whatever is hanging on the walls or displayed under glass like it's some magical treasure. Instead, everything is digital. Big screens, sounds, structures, interactive elements. It really is an experience of the senses that keeps your attention all the way through and makes you think about our future as a species. BONUS: All the museums are free in Brazil.
CRISTO REDENTOR You might be confused as to why I've put the most famous attraction - and emblem - of Rio last in the list? Simply because I'm allergic to very touristic places. Symptoms include: clostrophobia, high levels of irritation (often caused by tourist functioning in slow-mo), frustration in taking pictures and a sudden urge for super power. No but really, it makes me see people like Sims with $ on top of their head instead of the ◆ (I really miss making my sims continuously walk into the walls). Oops, guess we lost track there. The Cristo is touristic for many unquestionable reasons. First it's very impressive. The height is overwhelming. You realize how it feels to be an ant and probably will regret last time you stepped on one for fun. Secondly, the view is breathtaking. And so is the train ride to go up there. So if you don't mind being surrounded by other Gringos (that's how they call the tourists in Rio), then you should definitely check it out.
More to come soon,
A big thank you to Patricia and Akram for the warm welcome, Dominic, João, Paloma and Maíra for making it an unforgettable experience.