Brazil Flag

Rio de Janeiro >  Google™ Map  Rio de Janeiro Coat of Arms

Brazil Flag Brazil > Rio de Janeiro

Apr 2016

Rio de Janeiro Coat of Arms

The first thing you'll notice on your first full day in Rio are the birds and no, not that sort saucy!

Magnificent frigatebirds[1] elegantly circling on the thermals as you dip your big toe in the South Atlantic. Unlike your Cornish seagull, these won't swoop down for your chips, which is just as well. Big as a heron, these things could have your arm off!

Black vultures will then peck out your dead eyes after you've bled out on the beach.

If you think that opening gambit's a bit grim, the tone of the Rough Guide™ to Brazil is just being emphasised where going just about anywhere in Rio will seemingly see you mugged or murdered to death.

[1] That's not this pair's opinion, it's just what they're called.

  Galeão International Airport

Can take anything between 20 minutes and an hour depending on traffic. You'll pay approx. £10 more for an 'official' taxi from one of the booths in Arrivals and according to the Rough Guide™, you'll be murdered to death if you don't.

Not mugged exactly, this dopey Englishman got himself conned in Copacabana[1], panhandled on the promenade. Some luminous, green fluid mysteriously appearing on the insole then... 'Senhor, I kleen shooz?'

Before you know it, your foot's on a box and those tatty old sandals are getting an unnecessary shampooing. This guy had more misdirection than  Derren Brown and within a minute you're on first name terms and a tenner lighter.

It wasn't seen who did the squirting but you got me good there Rodrigo although one head-shaking local clearly didn't approve.

The hawking's non-stop and no, nobody wants a Bob Marley flag or an umbrella with that statue on it[2]. A tip for before you fly out, pop down to your town centre and practice on some  chuggers by telling them where to get off.

[1] The only song with a cliffhanger in it? You have to sit through the disco-ey bit in the middle to find out 'just who shot who.'
[2] This isn't a fairground so no, nobody wants a coconut, neither.

  Promenade Princess (Rua Xavier da Silveira, Copacabana)

Good value accommodation for Copacabana. Self-catering with a balcony and access to a swimming pool although the noisy Air Con's a little too close to the pillow. The staff's English is way better than your Portuguese will ever be and say hello to Felipe. He's not a big lad but boy can he carry those bags.

Just the two full days here so what to do? Sugarloaf? That statue? Naturally not! Pretend it's a miserable bank holiday Monday and head for the nearest military fortification.

Fort Copacabana tells you pretty much what it is and pretty much where it is. Sat on a rocky bit of headland that separates Copacabana from Ipanema[1], most of it is out of bounds but the small military museum just about justifies the £1.25 entrance fee.

As does the conscripted youth at the gate who was doing very well in full uniform not to sway in what was knocking nearly 90.

The guns date to 1914 although they've since been replaced, probably. Nearly 20 miles these things will fling a shell although it was back in 1922 when they last saw the front pages.

Armed revolutionaries seized the guns and turned them back on Rio in an attempt to convince the government that some forms of social reform might be a good idea.

One call to the Navy, a couple of warships and five salvos later, the tenentistas were forced to surrender. All of this within half an hour but more on that in a minute.

A glimpse of the Pavaozinho favela there, sprawling up the hill. If gawping at the poor is your thing, organised trips can be arranged although some forms of social reform might be a good idea.

[1] The song theme continues with the next beach along - Leblon. Wasn't that the  Human League?

  Lanchonete My Flower (Rua Xavier da Silveira, Copacabana)

Local bar in the backstreets of Copacabana. Plastic seats and colourful clientele as you nurse that chilled 600ml bottle of Brahma and laugh at the, quite frankly, ridiculous traffic.

To get to Ipanema, head along Rua Francisco Otaviano where you'll find it more upmarket than Copacabana , which itself isn't that shabby. Ipanema's shops are swankier, the bars are bigger and there's nobody squirting green detergent on European looking sandals.

You can continue your walk to a walkable lagoon, which is where they did the rowing for the 2016 'lympics, before bringing yourself back by the beach.

  Fogo de Chão Botafogo (Avenida Reporter Nestor Moreira, Botafogo)

Brazilian Steakhouse or Churrasco who'll carve you as much meat as your greedy gullet can handle. Just don't ask the only taxi driver in Rio who's never heard of the place to take you there. This place seats 400 people man and there's even one in New York! Sugarloaf what?

Someone's made a bit of an effort in the small Parque Garota de Ipanema and yes, that'll be that girl from.

The park's just next to another rocky promontory and the favourite place of Rio resident  Millôr Fernandes. An accomplished author, journalist, satirist, cartoonist, poet and playwright, Millôr died in 2012 and this place now takes his name.

One of this pair's favourites too, now, and a couple of paths will lift you high enough for a view where you can tip a poor lady who's had to lug her bottled-water coolers halfway up here for a living.

This looks to be a late-night haunt for local youth who are responsible, probably, for the rubbish and the graffitied cactus. Cactus Graffiti?

Now, doesn't that sound like an  Eagles album that didn't get released?

  Restaurante Arab (Avenida Atlântica, Copacabana)

Middle Eastern dining looking across to Copacabana beach. Just don't eat for a week beforehand if ordering one of their Mezzes.

Meanwhile back at the fort, there's some impressive street art on a wall that celebrates Brazil's not entirely successful hosting of the 2014 World Cup of Soccer.

David Luiz there channelling  Falcao from 1982 after  Sideshow Bob scored a screamer in Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia but remember that earlier talk of surrendering within half an hour?

In the second example, Brazil were beaten 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semi-final and the artist hasn't exactly been kind to Mesut Özil (back right). That's probably because he tore the Brazilian defence a new one in that game although, to be fair Gary, he's no spray-can painting.

  That Statue

Despite four nights here, it's still not really known where it is.

All that is known is that you'll have to figure out how to buy tickets in advance and a funicular gets you up there.