Monday 14 October 2013

From meat feasts to gay pride...the essence of Rio in a day!

Day 3: 2013 Autumn Travels [Rio, Brazil]

My second day in Rio de Janeiro started early...I decided to start at the top of the city I managed to get on one of the first Sunday omg metros (approx 6.30am!)  My lack of Portuguese did mean I ended up going one stop and then returning to my original location  TWICE before I twigged what the announcements were likely to be saying...!

I got chatting to a man on the metro (for some reason people always come up and speak to me, wherever I am...) who told me about a 10km race that was taking place around Centro which I ended up running (pun intended!) into on my morning exploring.

I got off at Uruguaina near Guranabara Bay (which is where the early Portuguese explorers entered the area and is likely to undergo a major pre-Olympics refurb) and walked to the bay front via Igreja da Candelana and the race.

 At the bay I had breakfast...I wasn’t sure what all the savoury snacks on display were, but assumed most things were the well-known cheese bread “pao de queijo” I picked purely on interesting shape...

  I ended up with a chicken croquette!  It turns out “coxinha” is a popular Brazilian snack and shaped to look like a chicken thigh.  I had it accompanied with a drink that tasted and looked like flat Coca-Cola.

I then wandered around Centro, a usually bustling commercial centre but strangely quiet first thing on a Sunday.  I headed towards Lapa and Cinelanda, seeing lots on the way including plazas, the theatre, library, Santo Antonio monastery and baroque churches. 

Everything felt very clear, clean and spacious.

Even the street paving stones were impressive.

A highlight was the Catedral de Sao Sebastian do Rio de Janeiro with amazing stained glass ceilings and unique design.

And the Arcos da Lapa...which felt very reminiscent of Rome.

More impressive graffiti was spotted throughout the city:

Then I headed into Lapa, a very atmospheric neighbourhood – poorer but artistic and colourful – featuring the famous staircase “Escadaria Selaron” by the eccentric Chilean artist which you suddenly come across on the climb up to Santa Theresa church.

The steps are decorated with masses of individual tiles.

Santa Theresa gives you views back across Centro.

Then walked to Parque do Flamengo which offered great views of Sugarloaf Mountain.

As it was a Sunday, some of the main roads along the front were closed and instead filled with skaters, cyclists and rollarbladers.

Made my way to the top of Copacabana beach, perhaps the most famous and loved beach on the planet!  There was so much white sand, blue sea, muscle men working out, people and clear skies. 

The gorgeous beach curves 4.5km from end to end and at the weekend all cariocas (Rio’s residents) set up on the sands in all their teeny bikini / speedo combinations.

For lunch I grabbed an acai and granola blended mix near the beach at one of the hundreds of juice bars that fill the pavements.

Acai is a tropical Amazon fruit found abundantly across Brazil, usually mixed with banana, granola, honey and guarana (another Amazon fruit with double the caffeine concentration of coffee).  It was tasty and refreshing.

Then I headed further down Copacabana beach where the 18th annual Gay Pride Parade was kicking off with thousands of locals in attendance, approx 300,000 people! 

 There were some incredible outfits, great music (including, of course Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”) and parade floats.

They unravel a massive rainbow flag which people dance on / under / by and follows one of the floats.

I felt like I’d had a little taste of Carnaval!

Afterwards I wandered to the end of the beach.

Then further on to yet another magnificent beach at Ipanema where I sunbathed, people-watching in the wealthier and younger area of Rio. 

Then watched my second Rio sunset...

Afterwards I went to an amazing dinner at Porcao Ipanema – one of Rio’s best all-you-can-eat BBQ meat restaurants “churrascarias”.   Seeing my excitement they let me into the kitchen to the BBQ where the meat is cooked on swords which they then bring around to your tables.

There is a huge range of salads to chose from:

You’re given a token to indicate if you still want meat brought to your table. 

The advice I’d been given was “not to waste stomach space on carbs”, advice I took to heart and instead indulged in masses of meat and sushi. 

There were a lot of different types and cut of meat – the choice was almost too much, but somehow I coped with the endless servings of ribs, sirloin and lamb.  I even tried chicken hearts!  Unfortunately they tasted like pate so not very nice in my opinion...

It was all so delicious that I ate way more than I should – major food baby situation – so I was glad of the walk back to my Copacabana hostel.

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