I LOVE RIO! Who wouldn’t? It surely is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Hemmed in between a huge bay, the Atlantic Ocean and a mountainous interior, Rio de Janeiro boasts some of the most famous attractions anywhere, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado mountain, the Sugar Loaf mountain and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. I visited Rio for the first time in 2000 and fell in love with the city in an instant. I promised myself that I would one day return, and last week, I did just that!
Me and Melvin (from Traveldudes) were booked to speak at the WTM Latin America trade fair in São Paulo so I suggested stopping in Rio for a few days before heading to the trade fair. Melvin said, “sure, why not?” and before we knew it, we were basking in the glorious Rio sun!
Chilling in Rio!
We stayed at Casa Cool Beans, a lovely guesthouse in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, high up in the hills above downtown Rio. Most visitors tend to stay in or near the beach communities of Copacabana or Ipanema – I did that myself on a previous visit – so I decided to stay at a different neighbourhood this time and I didn’t regret it for a second! To start, Santa Teresa is an absolutely charming neighbourhood. Known as the Bohemian Quarter of Rio, Santa Teresa is full of art galleries, atmospheric restaurants and cafés, and magnificent historic mansions. Steep cobblestone roads wind through the neighbourhood, and through gaps between houses or the lush forest, stunning panoramas of Rio await. Casa Cool Beans was absolutely perfect for our chill time in Rio. Set amidst leafy gardens, the guesthouse has ten spacious rooms, a small pool and terrace. Colourful works by local artists adorn the walls, creating a cheery ambiance. Lance and his team took great care of us by telling us all about the neighbourhood, giving us lots of sightseeing tips and suggesting/arranging tours and restaurants.
A stroll around Santa Teresa
We spent a day strolling around Santa Teresa to soak up the wonderful atmosphere and admire the beautiful mansions, some of which have been turned into hotels or restaurants and some are still in ruins. Our highlight was seeing the amazing tiled Escadaria Selarón or Selarón staircase. One could spend hours going through the thousands of colourful tiles from all over the world!
The following day, we visited the Christ Statue atop the Corcovado mountain. It was a bit of a wait to get up there – it’s a very popular attraction – but it was absolutely worth the wait. The views from the top were simply mind-blowing! No words can quite describe how awesome that view is.
Melvin decided to spend the afternoon on a favela tour while I headed for the beach, first Copacabana, then Ipanema. The sun was shining bright and the temperature, at 24-26 degrees Celsius, was perfect! I laid on the beach and watched the beautiful people of Rio pass by. Oh what a sight!
We didn’t leave Rio without having a few caiprinhas of course!
Our stay was way too short and we were sad to leave, but hey, I’m sure we’ll be back again one day soon!
Rio, I’ll miss you! But I’ll be back soon… and that’s a promise!
Read about exploring Rio with locals.