A March 2002 trip
to Rio de Janeiro by Kez
Quote: Rio there is nothing like it!
It is legendary for it's beaches and nightlife and has so many instantly recognisable landmarks all situated around the famous Guanabara Bay it was a dream come true to visit this beautiful place.
It is difficult to describe the vibrant pulse or energy of the city without feeling it for yourself as it is the "Cariocas" zest for life that makes the city truly "marvellous".
Nearly all the hotels include a fantastic breakfast so make the most of it. Eating out otherwise is reasonable and there are plenty of supermarkets throughout the main areas so you don't need to eat out for every meal to save on the budget. When ordering in restaurants make sure that the meal you order is not actually for 2 persons. We found this on more than one occasion as it is not stated on the menu and can come as a shock unless you have a huge appetite.
We really liked the area around Ipanema and Arpador; it's slower-paced, less busy roads and the tree-lined streets made walking much more enjoyable.
One word of advice; do not take a tour! We did and it was a shocker. You can get quickly and cheaply anywhere in the city on the buses and if you have have helpful porters they can point you in the direction of anywhere in the city.
To see the sights hop on one of the frequent local buses. A ride anywhere in the city will cost just 1 real, less than 50 cents each way. A real bargain. We had heard all the stories about not taking the buses because of theft etc but we never encountered a problem or saw any trouble. Common sense things like keeping your camera out of sight and your bag under your arm for security always helps.
We enjoyed travelling on the local buses far more than when we took our one and only tour.
Destinations located a little way from Rio are a great day trip or short stay. The main long distance bus station offers cheap, clean and efficient coaches to anywhere in the country at regular frequencies.
All the staff including the reception staff, waiters and porters were just so helpful and obliging.
We were only able to secure a twin bed room on our first night (Easter break and it was very busy) but Jiminez on the front desk went out of his way to move us the next morning. We were moved right up to the 11th floor with great views south towards the beach, the bay and mountains.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable with a semi-sitting room in the entry area with a hallway leading off from this into the main living area, this was complete with bed and dining table for more comfort. There is a TV although only local channels, but check out the show "live witness" in the afternoons, it's a hoot even of you don't speak the lingo you pick up on the melodrama.
The large bathroom led off this main area coming complete with bidet and a shower with good pressure and hot water.
The hotel does boast a rooftop pool and in their words "it is small but it still has water in it for splashing". Better than most as the majority of the hotels in Rio don't offer a pool. Around the pool there is also a great deck with lounges, chairs and tables to sun by and you can call up for bar service if required. It is also a good place to meet with other guests.
Breakfast is included and it is served each morning until late on the ground floor. It is a buffet and included eggs, sausages, various sweet and savoury breads, yoghurts(first time I had ever seen coconut flavoured) and a large selection of some of the fantastic local tropical fruits.
There is a TV room on the ground floor with cable so you can catch up on the world's news if you wish or if it is raining watch a movie.
The porters are always happy to help and are a wealth of information on the local buses and can get you anywhere in the city and more importantly home again.
It was the level of comfort and service along with the extras that so many hotels charge for that made it great. These included complimentary use of beach towels and in-room safes.
Its a great place.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2002
Atlantis Copacabana Hotel
RUA BULHOES DE CARVALHO 61
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
We prebooked this hotel before leaving home and chose it for its position and nicely presented rooms. Having a confirmed booking we arrived very late and found they had cancelled our booking but luckily were still able to accommodate us but in a twin room and not a double as we had booked. We asked to be moved to a double the next morning and it was done.
Both of the rooms we stayed in were nothing like the brochure or the rooms on the website, they were older and obviously not recently refurbished as we were led to believe. They were small and did not offer any extra comforts such as a lounge or dining setting plus there was an extra charge of 4 and half reals per day to utilise the in-room safe.
Then to add another insult we were then charged for numerous items from the mini bar that we had not consumed and then being told that it's not that much and did it really matter?
On a positive note the breakfast served on the top floor was fantastic as were the corresponding views right around the bay and it is in a very central location on Copacabana beach.
Personally I think there are better options in the same price category than this.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on June 30, 2002
Avenida Atlantica 3564
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "Hanging out at the beach!"
Males preen and flex, females twitter and flutter. Then there is the parading option of moving up and down certain sections of sand. Then there is the Adonis option where the young males stretch and pose and stand in the one position for what seems eternity looking just "perfect". Then there is also the boy meets girl scenario, a friendly meet all the while still showing the physique off to its best to any other potential catch. Then there is the sporty type who will start up a game of soccer or a game of volleyball. I have never seen anything like it.
Then throw in the vendors who spend hours trudging up and down with their wares, anything from sarongs, Guarana, beer, numberplates, hotdogs, icecreams, and camarones. It is a shoppers paradise and all not moving an inch from your staked out patch of sand, because it can get mighty crowded.
It really is great place to relax whilst having all the action you need in front of you.
Then when the sun goes down the action moves up to one of the local bars where they quite literally take over the pavements and the whole road.
I think that sometimes the locals don't have a choice but to wait until late to go home as parking Rio style means literally with the bumpers of each car touching. All are parked in there until someone decides to leave and then the attendant rolls the main car (sans handbrake obviously) blocking the rest of the line down a bit and so on until the lucky person who does want to leave is able to. Very innovative where parking is at a premium.
Make sure you do spend some time on the sand as it really is the best place to see the locals engaged in one of their national pastimes.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 30, 2002
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "Sugar Loaf and City Tour"
This is the reality:
Pick up all the remaining passengers we are 1 hour into the 4 hours of the tour.
Drive along the road past the main government house. Then to the Maracana football stadium, pay 4 reals if you wished to enter to see an empty stadium if not wait outside on the concourse. Then drive on to the Sambadrome, seeing an empty sambadrome is not very exciting I am sorry to say. Next stop Sugar Loaf Mountain, well worth going to but able to be done by yourself using public transport. Some time to yourself at the top approx 45 minutes then back down to the bus to do the reverse dropping off of passengers.
Throw in the guide who had to speak Portuguese, Spanish and very heavily accented English it was not a fun afternoon at all and we were very glad to get off the bus in the finish.
Sugarloaf and City Tour
Rua Zelferino de Oliveira, 5 Sao Cristovao
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "The cablecar up to Sugarloaf"
The cable car ride is actually two separate trips, the first up to Urca and the second up to the top of Sugarloaf. Personally, I was glad to be off the cable car as it dosen't feel all that secure. This may have something to do with the fact that when we were there they were due to close the whole operation down in a days time for a major overhaul. Each gondola is quite large and offers viewing around the whole car. Although the queue can look long it does not take that long a wait to board.
The views are are sublime and stretch forever along both sides of the coast and inland. It is also a great place to orientate yourself with an idea of the layout of the city.
At the top there are also some nice walking trails with some very cheeky little monkeys who seem to have a penchant for iceblocks. There is also the normal shops selling the toursity things such as T-shirts, caps etc.
Just a reminder the cable cars were due to be closed April, May and June this year(2002) so of all went to plan they should just about be ready to be reopened again and with no fear of a cable snapping.
The trip cost 20 reals return, about $10US and worth it even if it does seem a tourist trap. You can't come to Rio and not take the trip, plus you won't be dissapointed.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer"
My tips are:
1. Check out the weather before doing the trip to the top. It can be a beautiful day & just when you arrive at the top, the clouds can come over & completely obscure--& I mean completely cover--the whole statue.
2. Skip the tour bus scene. Take a local bus & allow an hour travelling each way. Just ask your hotel porters which number to take.
3. When you arrive you will be be approached by touts that offer to drive you up the scenic route for the same cost. For my money if you didn't take the original red railway through the forest it would not be the true experience.
4. Be warned. When you arrive at the top there are still lots of steps to climb up to the base of the statue.
Finally, standing at the top under that soaring statue whose arms spread out in an embrace with the whole vista of fantastic & hedonistic Rio laid out before you, is simply unforgettable. You will find that you will pick out points of reference easily and feel that you could almost just reach out and touch them. The apartment buildings just seem to be fighting with each other for space in between the numerous mountains jutting up in between; the glittering blue sea sprinkled with diamonds from the sun; each delicately laced with their individual white collars of sand and then the large expanse of the Lago Rodrigo de Freitas in the centre.
It is really one of the most memorable and photographic travel experiences that will ever have the pleasure to experience.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2003
Christ the Redeemer Statue (O Cristo Redentor)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "Day trip to Petropolis"
The journey begins by driving through the outskirts of Rio. After this, the road twists and winds its way up through the lush and tropical forest known as "Serra de Orgoas". The scenery is dramatic, with one side of the highway dropping away steeply. Try to sit on the left hand side of the bus on the way up, as this will offer the best view. Don't panic about the driver overtaking on all the blind corners, as the road is actually a separate highway for each direction.
When you arrive, you will really enjoy the change of climate. It is really crisp and a real change to the humidity in Rio.
There are many museums and residences of the Royal family, including the Cathedral and the Imperial Museum. It gives you a glimpse of what life was like in the 1800's, life for the wealthy anyway.
If you visit the Tourist Information Centre in the centre of town, they are super helpful and speak many languages. They can furnish you with walking maps that guide you to the main tourist sites, 11 in total.
There is no need to take an organized tour. It is easy and much cheaper to go there yourself. Take the local bus to the main bus station for about 1 real each way. Buses leave with either Facil or Unica buslines about every 15 minutes. The cost is about 6-7 reals each way.
This trip does give you another view of Brazil aside that of the beach if you are spending all your time in Rio itself.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2004
60 meters north of Rio
Petrópolis, Brazil 25770-320
Broadbeach Waters, Australia