After a 16-hour flight from Doha via São Paulo, finally Rio!
The vibrant and captivating city of Rio de Janeiro has travelers from all over the world swarming into this Brazilian municipality all year round. Although peak season is at the start of the year during the Rio Carnival, there is rarely a quiet night in this place.
I spent my first day walking around the Centro or downtown Rio. Not many locals speak English, but it’s pretty easy to navigate. When I say easy, it means “thank you Google maps.” :))
The average temperature in Rio is around the mid 20’s, which makes it ideal for outdoor activities. I ended up walking about 10-15 kilometers per day, because the weather was so nice! They have a clean and efficient subway system (Uber is also an option), but I preferred to save my transportation money to spend on food instead. :)) Not that it’s expensive. Bus trips are a standard R$3.60 per ride, while train fares are about R$4-6, depending on the distance. Uber fares average at around R$15-25, almost similar to Manila rates.
Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)
Named so because of its shape, Sugarloaf Mountain will give you a spectacular 360-degree view of Rio.
From Urca, I took a cable car all the way up to the mountain for R$80. I thought I would only spend a few minutes there, just enough to see the view and take pictures. I ended up staying for almost three hours, because it’s so relaxing. In the second and third stations, you will find food stalls, shops, and benches scattered around the viewing deck.
Corcovado is another mountain where you will find one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World – Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). Again, I was expecting a mediocre experience, but seeing the statue is truly overwhelming! The way that Christ “watches” over Rio is certainly something to marvel at.
Trains going up the mountain run every 20 minutes (starting at 8 a.m.), and tickets are at R$75 each for adults. It’s always better to go at the earliest possible time if you want fewer people photobombing your selfie with the Cristo, but I honestly didn’t mind the crowd that much. The view in itself makes the trip worth it. 🙂
This park is probably my favorite because of it’s peaceful ambiance and there’s so much green all around it. Not only that, there’s also a romantic story about how it was built. After many owners, the property was finally bought by businessman Henrique Lage, who hired an Italian architect to design the mansion for his wife. And what a mansion it is! Made of Italian marbles and tiles, it really stands out among the greenery. Once you go inside though, you are not allowed to use cameras, except the one on your cellphone.
The grounds cover a total of 174,000 square meters, and is part of the Tijuca National Park.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also go hiking instead of taking trains or cable cars up the mountains. I also thought about hang gliding to see Rio from a bird’s eye view, but I didn’t have the budget for it. Hahah!
Rio is a mix of nature, culture, and urban lifestyle that has something for everyone. Oh, and if people warn you that it’s dangerous there, don’t fret. As long as you’re street-smart and aware of your surroundings, there’s nothing to worry about. Be mindful, just like in any other city. And as I always say, “I’m from Manila. I can handle it.” :))