…that aren’t Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf
Last week I returned from what I am currently referring to as the trip of a lifetime. I’ve wanted to visit Brazil since the 3rd grade, so when a ticket popped up that was less than $600, I hopped on it! And I’m so glad I did. For 6 days, my travel buddy and I explored the city of Rio de Janeiro. We stayed in a cute Airbnb in the heart of Ipanema which turned out to be the perfect launchpad for all of our adventures.
There is SO much to do, but below are 5 things I’d say you can’t miss.
1. Sip caipirhas on Ipanema beach at sunset
Ipanema is everything you could ever want from a beach… beautiful. clean, plenty of sand to lay your towel on.
**last two photos were taken by Andre Perry, http://andrelperry.com/
The water is a tad bit choppy but honestly, I’m not here to talk about any of that. I’m here to talk sunsets and caipirinhas. The sunsets at Ipanema/Copacabana are so magical that people literally gather in the evenings to watch them and they clap. Actual clapping takes place. And rightfully so. The sunsets are beautiful. And I can’t think of anything better to accompany those sunsets than caipirinhas.
And not just any caipirinhas, because you can literally get them anywhere on the beach. You need to get them from Caesar at NiTeroi, right on the main road Avenida Vieira Souto.
2. Friday night samba in Lapa
Rio is rich in culture– the food, the art, the music… the samba. Samba is huge in Brazil and if you don’t go experience it live for yourself, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. Head to Lapa on Friday or Saturday night to get taken away by the samba beat. We went to Rio Scenarium– some call it touristy but from our experience it was filled with locals dancing away and singing along with the live band.
3. Hike through Tijuca Forest
When you look up adventurous, you know whose name won’t be there? Mine. I’m a city girl who would choose the mall over nature any day. But I was on vacation, time to try something new. And I’m so glad we did. Our personal tour guide, Dalvi, lead us on a 4 hour hike through the Tijuca tropical forest. We traversed rivers, sat inside a huge tree as bats flew over our heads and meditated by waterfalls all while learning the sociopolitical and geographical history of Rio. It was a welcome change from the bustling cosmopolitan streets of the city.
4. Walk all the way up the Escadaria Selaron to Santa Teresa
Aside from Christ the Redemeer and the beaches, images of the Escadaria Selaron are proabbly some of the most recognizable out of Rio. And while they are definitely a sight to see, the real magic lives alllll the way up the steps, to the left, up a steep hill and to the left again in Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa offers picturesque views of the city, incredible street art, cute shops with artisan goods, and one of my favorite meals of the whole vacation from Espirito Santo Emporium.
5. Shop the hippie fair in General Osório Square
Honestly, I was way too busy shopping to take a picture. If you’re looking for souvenirs that don’t scream “HEY LOOK, I WAS A TOURIST”, and are made by local artisans, venture to the hippie market held every Sunday in General Osório Square.
There are leather goods, gemstones, paintings, jewelry, shoes, food brought down from Bahia… literally anything and everything you could think of, can eb found at this market. And did I mention it’s all super affordable? Souvenirs for everybody!
**Honorable mention: stuff your face at a churrascaria
If you are a carnivore like I am, you cannot miss the opportunity to go to one of Rio’s churrascarias. I don’t care if you’ve been to your local Fogo de Chao– experience the real deal in Rio. Carretao has every meat you could every dream of… lamb, beef, pork, chicken, wild boar and at a very reasonable price(less than $30usd).
To sum Rio up, I’ve been describing it in one word… magical. Rio is far from perfect, but the people are friendly, the weather is lovely, the food is delicious and the sights will leave a lasting impression. I’d come back to Rio year after year, so I’d call that a vacation success.
Look who’s back
For the last few months I’d been hearing the buzz about Maketto on H St. but between the parking situation there and just how crowded it can get, I just never got around to making my way there. That was until last weekend.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Maketto is a mix-use space with a coffee/pastry cafe, apparel(when will you all bring getting some cool stuff for the ladies!?), a full bar and some damn good Cambodian and Taiwanese food. They also have free activities like yoga and coffee clipping… whatever that is. Quite a few articles have sung the praises of chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s take on Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisine, and I couldn’t wait to try a couple things.
I stopped in for lunch and had the pork steam boa and Cambodian pork noodle soup and a morning bun… which is not pictured below because… I forgot.I was feeling a tadbit under the weather so this soup was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. Slightly spicy with a lovely broth, it was jam packed with thin rice noodles, tender grilled pork, scallions, basil and crispy shallots. I love that the pork had that slight grilled touch it and would definitely recommend this soup to anyone looking for a filling yet cheap lunch.
I didn’t love the buns, but I don’t love steamed buns, so really why would I? The pork was a little sweeter than I like and the bun itself was kind of think and chewy. It wasn’t bad though, just not for me. And that morning bun that isn’t pictured? Delightful. Not too sweet, yet just sweet enough. It’s crunchy, buttery and has a nice pistachio surprise waiting in the folds. I can see why they’re a crowd favorite.
Long story short, Maketto, I will be back. Next time to try that fried chicken I keep hearing so much about