“If you have a problem that annoys you, then you have two problems. Knock one of them out.”
This local man’s statement lived with me during the week I spent in Brazil’s second-largest city (and not the country’s capital), Rio de Janeiro. Abundant samba music, the non-stop thumbs up gesture (people from Rio, known as Cariocas, must do it over 20 times a day) and sunny days combined for an elongated euphoria.
Among the city’s many attractions, visiting Christ the Redeemer (the quintessential Brazilian photo opportunity) on Corcovado Mountain is a must. After catching a view of the city and Sydney-like bay from this 2,000-foot-plus peak, stroll along famed Copacabana and Ipanema beaches for a bonanza of people-watching.
If the beach isn’t your thing, meandering through the small bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa will satiate most anyone’s visual – and culinary – senses. Hang out at a bar (shown in the video below) and listen to effusively positive sounds while sipping on a Caipirinha, the revered Brazilian cocktail.
Looking for a nighttime experience? Don’t miss the neighborhood of Lapa. If the samba music spilling out of its bars were jazz, you’d be in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Too touristy, you say? OK, head on over to Trapiche Gamboa, trapichegamboa.com.br, for a refuge of the self-proclaimed “most authentic” Brazilian music. The restaurant/bar has ceilings climbing 40 feet high, but the atmosphere’s intimate with dancing and laughing the night away.
While Rio does have its share of extremely poor neighborhoods known as favelas, matadorchange.com, the Cariocans shine with their infectious smiles and carefree attitudes. Don’t be surprised to see yourself flashing the national thumbs-up sign and a big smile after a few days. The city’s beauty and vibe are nothing short of impressive.