I’ve been itching to share my photos from Rio this past week but we haven’t really had any free moments until today! For those of you who may not remember, I’m traveling around Brazil this month with my family, visiting my husband’s family. It’s been 10 years since we’ve been back and all the planning and preparations worked out for us to pull the kids out of school early and embark on this unforgettable journey.
Our first stop is what this post is all about… my husband’s birthplace and where he spent the first 15 years of his life: Rio de Janeiro. Rio is fascinating to me, not just because it is incredibly beautiful… but because I have studied it long before we came here. I was somewhat familiar with the different neighborhoods (aka bairros), beaches, good parts of town and some sketchy parts (favelas). Bruno’s father’s family has lived in Rio for generations so I was excited to see some of the places I had researched about his family’s genealogy. One of them was a cemetery that was the burial place of his great great great grandfather, who was the Baron Sampaio Vianna. On Sunday, we decided to head out to this cemetery, called Cemeterio Sao Francisco de Paula in the bairro Catumbi (close to the center of the city). It isn’t in the greatest area anymore so Bruno was anxious to get out of there quickly, but the people who worked at the cemetery were super nice and helpful. They helped us find where the gravestones were very quickly.
I thought the cemetery was absolutely beautiful. It is the second oldest cemetery in Rio.
This is on the same row of caskets where the Baron and Baroness are buried.
That afternoon, our favorite Brazilian professional team, Flamengo, played in the Campeonato Carioca (Champion’s cup for the state of Rio de Janeiro), so we went to watch the game at Bruno’s Aunt’s apartment. She lives in Lagoa bairro and from her veranda, you could see Cristo Redentor on one side and the lake on the other. Flamengo won so of course that meant everyone went outside and yelled and celebrated. 🙂
On Monday, we went to the mall in the morning/early afternoon in Recreio (where Bruno’s step-sister lives and where we stayed), then headed back downtown to Copacabana to experience that famous beach. It was in the 80s and the water was a little chilly, but that did not stop our kids from playing in the water.
They tried some coconut water for the first time (none of them liked it hahaha), and as we were sitting there, up came a little music group singing to us The Girl from Ipanema. It was so fun, they let Owen play the tambourine, and Alex and Kaila danced.
Here is my Insta-Story from day 1/2. To make it fill your screen, just click on the little square in the right hand corner.
That night we went to Casa do Alemao, which literally means German House (there are A LOT of germans in Brazil). We went with Bruno’s step-sister, Jessica and his cousin, Elis, and the food was delicious. We got sausage sandwiches, croquettes, and some AMAAAZING quindim. Quindim is a coconut dessert that is hard to describe but easy to love. Google it. 😉
On Tuesday we did allll the tourist things. We took the train up Corcovado mountain to Cristo Redentor, then went to lunch at Praia Vermelha (Red Beach), and finally took the bondinho (tram) up to Pao de Acucar. It was absolutely breathtaking and it was the first day I took my nice camera with me so I captured some beautiful shots.
The view when you walk to the front of the lookout:
To the left:
To the right:
Better view of Lagoa:
Lagoa is a very nice neighborhood and is absolutely beautiful. They have wide, paved walkways around the entire lake that you see joggers and walkers exercising along, at all times of the day.
This is our group left to right in the back: Bruno, Owen, Alice (Bruno’s cousin), Sylvia (Bruno’s aunt and Alice’s mom), Marcia (Bruno’s dad’s cousin), and then in front is Kaila and Alex.
After Cristo Redentor, we had lunch at a little spot on Praia Vermelha (next to Pao de Acucar) and it was so so pretty. The food was buffet style and you serve your plate, and pay for it based on weight. I actually love the way a lot of restaurants in Brazil do this. You only pay for what you serve yourself. It makes you very aware of what you put on your plate and you always want to finish everything. Anyhow, they opened the windows, and we could hear the waves lapping on the shore as we ate. They had THE BEST selection of desserts! I died. Quindim, Bolo de Brigadeiro, Pudim de Doce de Leite…
I took this from the window:
This is the entrance to the restaurant, and if you go here, it’s right next door to the Circulo do Militar.
If you turn around, this is what you see… Pao de Acucar!
We didn’t spend much time on the beach but I love how secluded it felt.
When you go up the bondinho (tram), there are actually 2 trams– one gets you to the first mount, then you go on another to get up to Pao de Acucar.
Views from the first mount (and I’m sort of obsessed with this picture– the haze, the birds, Cristo Redentor visible in the back), the cityscape… ALL THE HEART EYES! haha
You see that beach on the left? That is Praia do Flamengo, and the little peninsula thing that comes out from that is the runway for the Santos Dumont Airport. Just beyond that (hard to see in this pic) is the huge long bridge that goes from Rio to Niteroi (that city on the right off in the distance).
Here is where you see what the tram looks like coming up the first leg, and down on the ground, the military buildings, and that beach on the left is Praia Vermelha.
Here are my Insta-stories from day 2/3:
When you go up the second tram, the view is even better:
Without labels… aren’t the mountains just beautiful? I felt like I was dreaming the whole day. I kept saying to myself, I can’t believe this is real!!
A closer look at Copacabana Beach:
Kaila took this picture of Bruno and I using my camera… not bad for a 6 year old!
By the time we headed back down the sun was starting to set and it was incredible. I’m officially in LOVE with Rio.
A video going back down:
On Wednesday, we only had the morning the enjoy the last bit of Rio before we left that afternoon, so of course we went back to the beach. This time Praia do Recreio, just a few minutes walking from where we were staying. I even saw a caiman in the canal on our way to the beach! We were told they are EVERYWHERE in this canal! I didn’t see any capibara, which apparently are plentiful in the area, and despite waking up early and looking all around the trees from our apartment window, I didn’t see any marmosets (they are also everywhere).
A little cute brazilian boy in a sunga on Recreio beach:
It wasn’t super warm (about 80 degrees), since we went from 9am-11:30am, and it even was a little windy! But we all got a little sunburnt because let me tell you… Rio sun is strong! We forgot to buy little sungas (those speedo-like swim trunks) for my boys but we plan on it before we get to Caldas Novas (just about 2 hours from Brasilia) in a couple weeks.
Caught her mid-sentence haha!
Honestly, despite all dangerous things we hear that happen, we stayed in the well-known and considerably safe neighborhoods and didn’t see anything worrisome at all. Our entire experience in Rio was wonderful. The people were warm and friendly and the experience was unforgettable. I will say, as advised, we didn’t walk around with our cell phone in our hand all the time (I feel like that is a no-brainer). I did record a few things throughout each day that I shared in my Insta-stories but put it away as soon as I was done. I didn’t wear my watch during the day that much (not sure if it would have made a difference though), and it helped that I spoke the language despite looking extremely American. We told our children to not speak English loudly in public, just to not attract attention. They don’t know a lot of Portuguese but they have been learning very quickly.
One day, hopefully not too far from now, we will return to the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, Rio de Janeiro!