Rio De Janeiro
Rio! Pictures struggle to do this spectacular place justice. It is heaven like, with amazing views and never too far from the beach. It has everything to offer, nightlife, nature and a modern city.
Rio often gets a bad name for gang violence, but like any big city, crime exists. When I visited, I remember walking along Copacabana, and a friendly local trying to tell me not to use my camera, because it could be taken by street kids. Nothing happened, but it reminded me to be more cautious not to flash expensive items!
Stay in tourist areas would be my advice.
So, do not be put off, just keep your wits about you.
There are plenty of planned trips you can take, and most hotels will have excursions that they arrange. You can pay extra, and have lunch in between the trip as part of the package. You will pay around £40 / 200Real.
Boarding the coach, it will drive around picking other passengers up on the way to Christ the Redeemer, one of Brazil's most famous landmarks at the top of the 2,300 ft Corcovado mountain.
On the way up the mountain, we stopped briefly for pictures. There was an amazing view over a Favela where the communites have built their homes onto the hilly landscape.
Back in the coach, there was a steep climb further up the mountain taking a total of 1 hour.
We stopped and take a short walk to a lift that took us to the top of the mountain.
We are then left to wander around the statue for about 30 minutes, looking up at the statue, not realising how enormous it really is! a 360 degree view of Rio it is truely breathtaking.
When we had finished taking photos we began to make our way back to the coach which took us down the mountain, I caught sight of a group of cute little monkeys swinging from the trees.
Once we got to the bottom of the mountain, the coach stopped at a restaurant, and we had a 'Rodizo', which is a help yourself BBQ of cooked meat. Also, you can help your self to many different delicious vegetarian dishes.
Once we finished stuffing our faces, we headed back to the coach. We were shown the stadiums where carnivals and other events are held. Also stopping at the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, I have to add that it's not the most attractive looking building from the outside - its shaped like a huge cone!
But from the inside, it is magical, with huge stained glass windows, transforming and reflecting the Rio sunshine and it's world renowned azure skies.
Following our quick visit to the cathedral, we returned to the coach. Before we left, there was a guy selling fresh coconut water straight from the coconuts, which were very refreshing and so tasty.
Back in the coach, we headed towards Sugarloaf Mountain, about 30 minutes from the Cathedral. Our guide told us about various other landmarks on the way.
Once we arrived at Sugarloaf, we waited in a queue for the cable cart, which I was slightly anxious about, imagining it would be a couple of seats attached to some old wire, but I was so wrong! It was modern, and really well built. When the cart was ready we boarded.
The exhilarating ride up the mountain was very smooth and I felt safe, the views were amazing! once the cart reached the top we walked a bit further I remember walking along a path under trees where there was a family of monkeys jumping from tree to tree. This was the first time I had seen monkeys this close. So beautiful.
At the top of the mountain, I remember the views being even more breathtaking than Christ the Redeemer, scattered mist over the mountains, golden sandy beaches and the deep blue sea.
There are a couple of cafes, but instead of a Coffee, I had a caipirinha - a Brazilian cocktail - to relax and admire the views!
Rio has some of the world's most iconic beaches Ipanema & Copacabana.
Copacabana stretches over two miles long, making it one of the longest beaches in the world. I loved this beach, for that reason. it is great walk, day or night, with plenty of bars and restaurants. There are also small markets selling paintings and memorabilia.
Although it's great to be by the sea, I noticed the prices are higher there, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants on the side streets. They also seemed to feel more authentically Brazilian. I noticed one bar seemed to be trying to accommodate foreign travellers by playing English music. Some people may like that, but I would rather go to a traditional bar or restaurant.