On my last day in Buenos Aires, I was trying to put into words on Instagram what these 3 weeks of travel meant to me, but I struggled to find the right words. When one of my readers left a comment on the post saying ‘to travel is to live’, it just clicked. I couldn’t possibly describe it more accurately in so few words! Rio de Janeiro was inspiring, refreshing and the kind of place you just have to visit at least once in your life. In a previous post I already showed you my favourite Iphone snaps from Rio, but now get ready for the real deal shot with my chunky 600D that I to my own surprised dragged along with me every day…
When visiting a new country, the one thing that always fascinates me most is the people. This might be evident for some of you but as a huge lover of both food and nature, it isn’t an easy choice to make. Most Brazilians I’ve met along the way didn’t speak a word of English, but they always try to make an effort for you and want to make conversation and jokes nevertheless. The thing I loved most though, is that Brazilian women are so incredibly comfortable and confident in their own bodies! My friend and I were discussing this and we both agreed that in Western society there’s just so much pressure to look perfect, whatever that may mean anyway. However in Brazil I’ve found that people, all shapes, ages and sizes, just totally rock their bodies with confidence. It was such a refreshing thing for me to see and it’s a way of life that I admire.
I’ve said that before, but I’m quite an impulsive traveler. Sure, I make a bucket list beforehand and do some research on what I absolutely want to see, but I really like being spontaneous and seeing where the day takes me. Just wandering the streets, stopping at random street stalls trying out local food or just take a taxi and ask the driver to stop wherever I like the look of it. This is for example also how Tatiane and I ended up ‘stumbling’ across the amazing Lagoa where you can rent a paddling boat. We finally ended up spending our late afternoon there, after which we found an amazing lounge serving incredible cocktails and food and decided to stay until late. I think that’s finally what travel is all about: discovering, doing unexpected thing and getting to know as much of the country you possibly can.
We stayed in the heart of Copacabana, so naturally on our first day we went to explore the neighborhood. As soon as you step out of the air conditioned hotel, humidity and heat slap you in the face. Lving in Western Australia I’m used on the heat but the level of humidity is out of this world! Which of course always results in my hair multiplying its curls and frizz. Oh well, not much you’re going to do about that. We went to the Botanical Gardens, a park that takes away your breath from the second you enter and see the sky high palmtrees lined up in front of you. Seeing colorful birds and monkeys everywhere make you feel like you’ve just walked into an imaginary world, at least that’s how I felt. We had lunch somewhere in the park as well, but please do mentally prepare yourself for long waiting time. Not necessarily because it’s busy, but the service just about anywhere in Rio is terribly slow. With a lonely planet guide in our hand, we made up our mind and decided to go to Barra Da Tijucca next. Perhaps one of the stupidest decisions we’ve made, as you might have read in my previous post. Sure sure, it all turned out all right but we took some serious risks there. Right now all I can see is the breathtaking views over Rio we were able to experience, out of this world beautiful (last photo).
We booked a tour to visit what’s perhaps the biggest icon in Rio for the next day. What else could it be than Christ The Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain? A visit isn’t only a must because of this iconic statue, but even more so because of the breathtaking views you have from the top. Rio is seriously all about views, there are so many incredible sights! Looking back, we’d probably not have booked a tour, but just take a taxi ourselves if we knew how little time we would have up there. But hey, I guess that’s also what being a tourist means: you just don’t know. Besides, the staff at our hotel barely spoke a word English so they weren’t able to give us much more details about the tour we booked than that “it’s very nice”. Even though we felt a bit rushed, I did squeeze in just enough time to buy my very first Acai bowl. My my, so good. Especially topped off with coconut flakes and some fresh fruit it’s absolute heaven. What we planned on our own for later that day might be the best thing I’ve done in Rio. We took a taxi to Urca around 3pm and got ourselves a ticket for the cable car to go up to the top of Sugarloaf mountain. The hours that followed were simply some of the best I’ve ever lived. Watching the sunset, having drinks, eating Acai bowls all while chatting with some really cool fellow Dutch people and their Brazilian friends. Watching the sun setting and the sky change into a zillion of orangy-yellow shades over the mountains, there’s simply no words for the beauty of it. One of the Brazilians told us about the habit of people applauding at the moment the sun has gone down, which I of course had to put to the test. With a group of 6 people we set in the applauding and cheering to have the rest of the crowd following our example. Incredibly funny. But honestly, a sunset of that caliber is totally worth an applause. We went for dinner with the same people afterwards in Copacabana, followed by cocktails.
The next day we had a very early wake up call for a day trip to Buzios, a peninsula and cute town offering some of the most extraordinary beaches you’ve ever seen. While it takes a good 3 hours to get there, the boat trip and again…the scenic views are worth your time. I personally also loved the drive itself, being able to see beyond the big city life of Rio and see other sceneries. It made me feel I got to know a little bit more about Brazil. The boat stopped at several idyllic bays for time to swim, jump off the boat, or simply chill with a drink in one hand and one of the many barbecued snacks available. The town itself is beautiful as well, but so many cute restaurants lined up next to the ocean (14th photo from bottom). We weren’t back in our hotel until 10 at night and we went to bed exhausted straight away. Even without dinner, you can probably imagine how tired we were!
As a fashion blogger, I of course couldn’t let a setting as beautiful as Copacabana beach pass by without taking some photos. Not only did the photos turn out great (stay tuned!), it also involved a lot of goofing around with videos. You can get a glimpse of that here on Instagram. My, it was so hot that day! At some stage, we both couldn’t wait to return to our hotel to change our maxi dresses for denim shorts and an easy top. Later that day our new Dutch friend promised to show us around in Lapa. After having crossed the area several times at night and day by car, we were happy to have a guy with us because…well…it’s not safe at all. I’m not someone to say this easily, but you really have to be cautious and not go off the beaten path when in Lapa. Tatiane and I had a mission to fulfill on the famous Lapa steps (you remember this clip with Snoopdog and Pharrell?) and do a little dance. We got our new friend Jort involved, who patiently recorded our moves and gave some directions here and there too haha! With the song bursting out of the speakers of Tatiane’s phone and us dancing like idiots we sure attracted some attention. You can find that video here on Instagram, by the way. Team madness!
The tour in Lapa continued after a few near heart attacks of myself and Tatiane while walking through a part of the neighborhood where we felt like something bad was about to happen any moment. Jeez, I’m normally not that much of a chicken but I hold on really tight to her while walking. In all honesty, carrying an expensive camera and a brand new Iphone (despite tucked away in a tote) didn’t help much making me feel comfortable either. We took a break with Acai and sweets before continuing to a different part where we visit the Kathedral of lapa. A church that looks incredibly ugly from the outside if you ask me, but it is surprisingly beautiful inside. At the end of the afternoon we took a taxi to Ipanema to watch the sunset from “Arpoador”, a rock overlooking the ocean from which the sunset looks ever so spectacular. It’s become a popular spot for people to come apparently, because it was incredibly crowded. To our surprise, there were heavily armed police men everywhere and even drones circling around the rock. Uhhh? You can read more about that in my Iphone diary, where I by the way also shared a photo we took with the Brazilian military police! ha ha. Can’t believe we actually managed to convince them to take a photo with us. A few street snacks, a massive dinner and a few drinks later we headed back to our hotel to get ready for…..David Guetta! Jort helped us to get the tickets or actually I should say: if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t even have known David Guetta would DJ in Rio! The venue was an our or so out of Rio and it was simply one those nights you’ll never forget. Get a glimpse of the night here on my Instagram video.
Despite not being back in our hotel until the early morning, it must have been around 6.30 because it was already light, we managed to get up 4 hours later just in time for some breakfast and to kick start our last full day in Rio. Trust me, I’m still surprised myself that we actually managed to do that. A big breakfast and a strong cup of coffee later, we were in a taxi to Park Lage. A recommendation I got from a reader on Instagram which I’m still super grateful for since it was such a beautiful place to see! (photo 8 from bottom). There’s a lovely cafe as well that does great coffees and foods, it’s the perfect spot to rest and do some people watching. On the way to the park we came across the lake in Rio known as ‘Lagoa deRodrigo Freitas’ and our eye was caught by the tens of swan paddle boats in the water. Yep, we’re so doing that. So on the way back (not knowing what the name of the place exactly was), we tried to make clear to the taxi where we wanted to go. Not sure how, but we managed to make it clear and he dropped us off exactly where we wanted to be. Yes! A shopping spree of churros filled with cream and fresh coconuts later, we were on our paddle boat. I must say that we probably picked the perfect time of the day, when the light turns yellow and the weather is somewhat cooling down. We later discovered an uber cool cafe and lounge next to the water, where we ended up staying several hours because: 1) The cocktails were great 2) The people were fun 3) We got into one of those soul searching, life conversations that once you get into it, you can’t stop talking. Later that night we went back to our hotel after we headed to Lapa to “go out”.
Like you might remember if you’ve been reading this entire post, Lapa isn’t exactly a safe neighborhood, especially not at night. We asked the taxi driver to drop us off at the most crowded looking street, after we picked a decent looking cafe with open windows and entire overview over the street. Trust me, in a neighborhood like this you can be kept entertained for hours while you’re just sitting and observing. We decided though to go to a cafe on the other side of street that looked fun and crowded. We must have been one of the very few non-locals there and I guess because it was obvious I felt like….we were being jumped on. While we’re still deciding where to go next (or more appropriately: where to run to next), a big fight broke out right next to us. It quickly spreaded and before we even realized it came towards us and we had to run. Literally. We held the first cab, back to the hotel we went. It’s hard to explain what this constant danger really feels like, especially when most of the time nothing actually happens, but yet it’s there. Just waiting to break out. We actually planned on going to the famous samba club called Rio Scenarium, which was unfortunately closed that night. I can totally see the charm of Lapa, I really do, but the only way I’d actually feel somewhat comfortable is if I’d be accompanied by a few guys, with just 2 girls things get tricky easily.
One week in Rio has been a whirlwind of new experiences, a crazy amount of laughs, madness and fun and above all an absolutely unforgettable time. I’d really love to spend more time in Brazil one day, see more of the country and its people. It’s such a blessing to be able to get to know new countries, I live for it!
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