RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Rio De Janeiro was a very majestic and vibrant city with its own charm and energy. The greenery and large bouldering hills wrapped the city in a green blanket, that was comforting and inviting. We stayed in Botafogo in the Novotel hotel, one block away from the shopping center. Botafogo beach and area was less touristy and more of an area for locals. There was less hustle and bustle and more quietness. The beach was directly across the street from our hotel, but had a scarce amount of people and not much foot traffic other than the locals. When traveling to Copacabana Beach, the Beach seemed to come alive during the day. When we reached the beach, there were many vendors, small restaurants and music playing. The beach was inviting and jammed packed with people. The area was also easy to navigate and get around. We were able to walk across the street and find a variety of places to eat.
Soaking up some sun at Botafongo Beach
For this trip, we opted to use Uber to get around. On average, we paid about 12 Brazilian reals per ride, which at the time of travel was roughly $4 USD. Transporting from our hotel in Botafogo, to other main attractions was usually no more than a 25 minute drive, with high traffic around noon. The city population was very friendly and helpful.
Food was affordable and tasty. For two entrees two beverages and a cocktail drink, we paid on average 72 Brazilian reals, or roughly $25. Two locations that we really enjoyed, was Bar & Restaurant Os Ximenes, located across the street from the bottom steps of Escaderia Selaron. We were able to get in with no problem, around 11:30am. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant was completely packed and had a long line wrapping outside the building. The establishment was clean and the food tasted fresh. The second restaurant was El Galleto, which is located near Copacabana Beach. The staff was very friendly and attentive, and the food came out quickly.
Caleb casually taking his time and reading the menu
Our international ritual for souvenirs is to collect Starbucks collector Coffee mugs from each city we visit, a country wine or liquor (whichever one is more popular from that destination) and a city magnet. In the case of brazil, we opted to pick up a bottle of Cachaca.
Souvenirs for the house
Finding additional souvenirs that we liked was somewhat of a challenge. Across the street from Copacabana Beach was a street market that housed many souvenirs, with many hand made items as well, but we did not see anything that we specifically liked. Then we stumbled upon Lapa and Art gift shop. This shop was located right across the street from the bottom of Escaderia Selaron. The gift shop had the typical souvenirs, one should expect, such as magnets, coffee mugs, T-shirts and etc. The staff was pretty friendly and inviting. The gift shop also had family made Cachaca. We picked up a bottle of Cachaca, a few magnets, a few Caipirinha home making kits, and a nice looking oversize cooking spoon and fork set.
Sightseeing of the main attractions was exciting. We were able to see Copacabana beach, Christ the redeemer, Sugar loaf mountain and Escaderia Selaron. All of these locations were kid friendly and enjoyable for our 2 year old son. Important and crucial for us, were the conveniently placed bathrooms with changing stations, and café’s that allowed us to buy water and juice, when necessary.
Copacabana beach was playful, vibrant and relaxing. It was meditational, hearing the water crashing, while listening to the live bands play music. The beach was packed with excessive amounts of vendors, selling any and everything you can think of.
Christ the Redeemer Statue
Christ the Redeemer was congested and flooded with tourist around the statue itself, which made it difficult to find a nice spot to snap pictures. Once we were done taking pictures, we decided to head down a level and walk around. All in all, the monument was nice to see. Seeing it up close gave us a different perspective.
Sugar loaf mountain was cool and exciting to see. The view from the first boulder looking down into the city was breathtaking. The city seemed to have its own energy and sense of life. Traveling from the cable cars, from one boulder to the next, gave a perspective of the city, that cannot be explained, but needs to be seen.
Transport from boulder one to boulder two - Sugar Loaf Mountain
Escaderia Selaron had a quaint charm to itself and offered a timeless picturesque backdrop. The amount of time and effort that had to have been dedicated to these steps adds to its attraction. 215 steps covered in 2000+ tiles, ranging in all colors and including various themes. At the base of the steps stood a mob of people waiting to have their picture taken by a street photographer. We opted to walk up the steps slightly, away from the huge crowd.
The top section of Escaderia Selaron
Second section of steps from the bottom
We stayed in the Novotel RJ Botafogo. We've stayed in Novotel establishments during other leisure trips in the past, and were expecting better accommodations than we've received. We were disappointed. The hotel was simple and small, and had a limited breakfast selection. Although we were not fully satisfied with the hotel, its location was great.
Our hotel was situated a block away from the Botafogo Praia Mall, which sported 8 floors of local clothing, and restaurants. Fine dining and fast food restaurants. Some of the common resturants they had were Mcdonalds, pizza hut. They also had other cuisines such as sushi, Italian, Japanese and more.