Rio de Janeiro – Cidade Maravilhosa
Welcome to Rio de Janeiro, Cidade Maravilhosa…Wonderful City! And wonderful it is although the contrasts can slap you hard if you are coming from a place where the gap between rich and poor are not that visible. Rio de Janeiro is a UNESCO world heritage site and the first in the category “cultural urban landscape”. If you have ever been there you understand why. This town is so big that you will need visit it several times to get to know it. And time will show something new. The town’s population is approaching 7’000’000 people; just about one million less than the population of my entire home country!!! Did you know that – If you take Brazil and put it on Europe that it would cover the entire territory from Scandinavia right down to Tchad, Africa? – Rio de Janeiro was Brazil’s capital (1763-1960) before Brasilia – The minimum wage is R$ (Reais) 633 since 2012, which corresponds to US$ 286 or € 211. Here are just a few impressions of Rio: Do not miss the juice bars that you find at every street corner. For breakfast have a freshly pressed juice and a coffee with “pão na chapa” (bread with butter). And should you go to a restaurant remember that the portions are in general big. So if you can not finished your plate, ask for a doggy bag. There are unfortunately more than enough people sleeping in the street who can only dream of going to a restaurant and will be happy with your leftovers.
There are also all the world-famous sites everybody talks about and you are not the only one who wants to see them. But don’t get desperate if the queues are too long. Just think well about the timing or find other solutions. For example you can see the Cristo Rei beautifully from “Mirante Dona Marta” and you can get up there by cab and avoid hours waiting to board a packed train. Under no circumstances miss the Selarón Steps (Escadaria Selarón), no queuing required, just some muscly legs to get up the steps. We crossed the Chilean Artist Jorge Selarón himself on the steps…unfortunately a few days later we heard about his death.
Beach life is crazy, Ipanema, Leblon and of course Copacabana. I have never seen so much action on a beach, so much beach sellers’ traffic. They propose food, drinks, clothes and much more. And of course we have to mention the lovely looking Carioca girls…and boys. But there is this great thing about the Cariocas: Because of the heat they are used to be barely dressed and they feel comfortable to show their bodies, even if not perfect, and so they hold their heads up high. This makes them look beautiful no matter the imperfections. So be ready to watch, to be watched and to enjoy. If you dare, buy one of the colored bikini which are called “fio-dental”, because they are so tiny they can be compared with what you use for your teeth…dental floss. Rent your baraca (sunshade) and the chairs at one of the many baraca stalls and let these guys look after you also if you get thirsty.
Once you have been there, it sticks to you and you feel irresistibly drawn back to this Cidade Maravilhosa and the Cariocas. Here are a few words in Brazilian (Portuguese) you should learn to be well prepared for your journey:
I hope you also enjoy my pictures below: