I first went and fell in love with Rio de Janeiro some years ago, and was so impressed, I always promised I would go back. It took me 5 years – 5 years too many.
To say that Rio de Janeiro is stunning, it is an understatement – it is sexy, “heartbreakingly” beautiful and elegant. Everything a girl wants to be!
Something changed during the time between my visits – I can’t point out exactly what it is, but it left an incredible impression. So much so, Mr O and I started toying with the idea that “we could really live there”. We sometimes play that game, but not everyday. And we did. Oh yes!
We didn’t always see the sun, but it didn’t matter – there’s something about the light in this city that makes you want to start tiptoeing and dance to the bossa nova sounds (it isn’t all about Samba!).
I am a great believer that you should start the year the way you intend to continue, so guess where we landed on the 30th of December 2011? Oh yes, I felt like the Girl from Ipanema (or Leblon, to be more precise!!)
I have so many things to say about Rio, that I will have to write a few posts – one on the address book, so you can just print it and take with you, and others.. well, you will just have to wait! This is the teaser – to give you a feel for the place, its stunning people (I can’t forget the smiles) and the incredible food and drinks (not wine, actually).
Rio is divided into various neighbourhoods and in my opinion Ipanema and especially Leblon are the best. You can tell by the lack of English heard in the streets, namely in Leblon, the most upmarket neighbourhood in the city. This is where we stayed for 9 days, which could have easily turned into 90 – there’s a lot to see and we didn’t get a chance. So we have to go back!
We stayed at the Sheraton Rio, around 400m from Leblon beach. Why? Because it is the only hotel in Rio that offers you a semi-private beach and is easy to get to anywhere in the city. A small detail – the beach is shared by the hotel guests and the locals from one of the Favelas (Vidigueira). I could swear that we had armed guards on our first visit, but they were no where to be seen this time.
The “pacification” of the slums is a great win for the local police, and Rio feels safe – and it is safe, which is possibly why the whole place felt different. Rio will be one of the host cities of the upcoming Football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and this is certainly important.
We slept for 10 hours each day, bought way more clothes and shoes than anticipated, ate incredible delicacies – from the “salgadinhos” (savoury pastries) to incredible meat barbecues (“churrasco”), but most importantly, came back to England looking healthier and happy. For Mrs O’s Rio de Janeiro address book, click here.
And that’s not a bad way to start 2012, is it?
Me apaixonei (I fell in love)
PS. To continue and read Mrs O’s Rio de Janeiro address book, click here.