February is almost here and we’re headed to Rio de Janero! Arriving one week ahead of one of the world’s craziest parties – Carnaval – this will be a honeymoon to remember!
Brazil Currency is called the Real and roughly $1 US == 1.75 Brazillian Reals. Conversely, 1 BR == 60 cents.
Rio de Janero Itinerary
I surveyed a bunch of on-line itineraries and this rough sketch of plans is influenced by the Rio Carnival, Frommers, and Hostel World. These were helpful as they provided a good outline of events. For example, I learned that we will miss most of the racous and reknown Carnaval parades as they start the night we fly out to return home. However, we may be able to see practices.
While those sites were great for a rough itinary outline, I will get better and more complete data by reading my Lonely Planet guide on my 8 hour flight to Rio. And since nothing ever replaces ground inteligence, we’ll see what the hotel can arrange for us in the forms of helicopter rides, hang gliding, samba lessons, parade practice, etc.
Day 0 – Travel (Monday 2/8/2010)
This will be the busiest travel day I have ever had. Married less than 48 hours earlier, we will leave from our Mayan wedding adventure early in the morning to catch a 90 minue bus ride to our flight out of Cancun airport. A 3 hour flight from Cancun takes us back to Charlotte where we will have to clear US customs. From there we will re-check in for our 8 hour + flight from Charlotte to Rio de Janero just a few short hours later!
3 airports, 5 timezones, 3 countries, 2 flights, countless opportunities for fun!
My expectations for this day are merely to survive! Make our connections, find a cab, get to our hotel, don’t get abducted. Reasonable enough, right?
Day 1 – Copacabana Beach (Tuesday 2/9/2010)
Rio is reknown for its beaches. Time to get up and go relax – recovering from the wedding and our insane travel itinerary. This should let our bodies get acclimatized to the South American summer and Rio’s timezone. Nightlife up and down Altantico avenue sounds inviting but I’m not making any promises. I just want to soak in the ambiance.
Day 2 – Christ the Redeemer Statue (Wednesday 2/10/2010)
This is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and Rio’s most famous landmark.
Situated on top of Corcovado – ‘The Hunchback’ mountain – this statue overlooks the city. I’ve been seeing panoramic shots of this statue lording
over Rio for years. Now it’s time to scale the mountain and see it for ourselves.
A cogwheel train will take you up the 710 metres to the statue of Christ. The 20-minute ride gives you just enough time to prepare yourself mentally for what is waiting at the top. In the meantime, enjoy the lush scenery and take in some of that fresh mountain air of the Tijuca Forest. But keep your eyes open: every so often you can catch glimpses of Rio way below. Finally at the top of several flights of steps you are beneath the almost 40-metre
tall statue of Christ with the whole of Rio at your feet. The spectacle is truly incredible. The return journey can be combined with a visit to the
beaches at Barra da Tijuca. Mirante Dona Martha Cocktail / Helicopter flight This is another place that offers a fantastic view of Rio, located
alongside the Corcovado. Beach and beachy nightlife the rest of the day!
Day 3 – Sugar Loaf Mountain (Thursday 2/11/2010)
We’ll hit the beach again early morning. Later that day, we’ll hike another iconic image of Rio mid-morning. Lunch on top.
Sugar Loaf, in the Urca district, is ten minutes from Copacabana. The cable car trip is in two stages: The first goes to Urca Hill, 220 meters high, and then a short walk to the other side leads you to the second station for the next part of the ride, up to the top of Sugar Loaf itself. The top of
Sugar Loaf, 396 meters high, has been landscaped and includes several pathways and a bar. It can be visited in less than two hours. To extend
this into a half-day tour, combine visiting Sugar Loaf with a tour of the centre of Rio. In the centre you can see many beautiful historic buildings
amongst the bustle of an active business centre.
Beach and beachy nightlife the rest of the day!
Day 4 Favela Tour (Friday 2/12/2010)
Rio is indeed called the Marvelous City. But for many, it’s not all that great. We’re going to learn more about the flip side of the beautiful people and the bright lights of the city on Marcelo Armstrong’s Favela Tour.
“In June 2002, the former President of Riotur, Jose Eduardo Guinle tried to censure FAVELA TOUR information. As operators of a very special
tour, it´s our main responsability to inform correctly and be realistic.”
9:00 a.m. / 2:00 p.m. Hotel pick-up in air conditioned mini van. Introduction comments about the context of favelas in Rio city and Brazilian society.
9:30 a.m. / 2:30 p.m. Arriving in Rocinha, welcoming, explanation about the architecture, public services, carnival, etc. Going to a local terrace, pause for pictures of a breathtaking view over Rio, talks about the security, local infrastructure and other aspects of favelas. Driving down through the “Estrada da Gávea”, a former F1 race track. Stop at the Rocinha Handcraft Center. Visiting the commercial area.
10:30 a.m. / 3:30 p.m. Arriving in Vila Canoas, visiting the “Para Ti” community school. This social project is financed by the tour. Besides regular classes, the school teaches local kids initial computer skills and the art of making handcrafts that can also be purchased by the visitor. Walk through the community. Optional stop for a drink in a local “buteco”. Stop at the local square. Informations about the “Favela Bairro” urbanization project.
11:30 a.m./ 4:30 p.m. Return to the hotel through all the south zone beaches. Final talks.
I’m not quite certain if we’ll do the tour in the morning or in the afternoon. I’m not sure if we’ll be feeling very much like touring after the tour. It does feel important, even for a bit, to look under the covers of Rios and gain a little more understanding of what happens beyond the glitz and glamor.
Later that day we may go hike in Tijuca – the inside-the-city rain forrest. (How many cities do you know of that have a rain forrest?) Or we may go hang gliding! Or…
In the morning we may take the old streetcar across the Arcos da Lapa to the quirky hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa. See the Museu Chácara do Céu. Enjoy the view at the Ruin Park, or have lunch in an outdoor café. In the afternoon, go hang gliding. Soar above the beach, feeling the wind,
admiring the mountains and the waves below. Or if that’s a bit too much, take a hike in the rainforest in Tijuca National Park, or stroll amid the
stately palm trees in the Jardim Botânico. In the evening, stroll the walkway round the edge of the Lagoa. Have a snack, a beer, or dinner at one
of the many kiosks. Find a kiosk with a band and enjoy the music and the prime people-watching.
Day 5 Carnaval Starts Today!!! (Saturday 2/13/2010)
2PM – Banda de Ipanema Parade on Ipanema Beach.
Banda de Ipanema, a Rio de Janeiro cultural heritage, is one of the city’s most famous blocos (street carnivals). Attracting over 25,000 spectators
and starting around 5:00pm, the Banda de Ipanema is where you will see parades and street bands playing all over. People of all ages, outrageous
costumes and raucous behavior are all welcome.
Day 6 (Sunday 2/14/2010)
This day will be interesting. We have to check out of the hotel in the morning but our flight doesn’t leave until 10:55pm!!! Not sure if they’ll
let us extend our stay with it being Carnival….
Day 7 (Monday 2/15/2010)
Land in CLT @ 6am.
Any suggestions on where else we should go, what else we should do?