Brazil: Rio de Janeiro & Petropolis

We started our first real day in Rio early in order to beat the crowds & heat at the Christ the Redeemer Statue. We had not seen “6:30” on our alarm clocks in a long time, and hope we can keep it a rare occurrence moving forward. But oh, did it pay dividends! We had reached the midway station by Uber by 8.15 and were on the 6th official bus batch up (before all tours arrive). No terrible heat, plowing through tourists or other horror scenarios for us- just an incredibly peaceful first encounter with city & landmark:

What a view, eh?
Mandatory move up here
1h later, sitting here would not have been possible
Crowds slowly creeping in

We then decided to go for the double, and chain on the Sugarloaf. Uber came to the rescue here again, making our traversal of the city more efficient, more pleasant & less expensive than the alternatives. After taking the cable cars up the Pão de Açucar we were treated with some amazing wildlife (lizards, vultures, songbirds & very cute micos). Not sure which views we ended up liking better, what do you think?

Pão de Açucar
View from atop the Sugarloaf
Micos providing entertainment in the heat
Getting our feet wet at Red Beach

As we were no longer used to 30+ degrees, we went for a siesta in the hotel. We apparently needed this more than we thought, as we only ended up reemerging around 5PM. Just enough time for a taste of Copacabana beach (not literally of course – this would likely kill you), and an incredible sunset:

People playing soccer
Perfect end of a perfect day

The next day we went for a day trip to Petropolis, the “imperial city”. It’s rich history left the city sprinkled with magnificent palaces & gardens:

“Christmas market”
The Imperial Museum. No Pictures allowed inside, but small spoiler: emperor Pedro II loved portraits of himself and his not so flattering wife.
In the garage, pictures were ok again
Random mansion turned Military Museum
The cathedral
Inside Quitandinha Palace
Quitandinha Palace

It was an interesting day, but a bit too hectic and hot to our liking. We had chosen to go by normal bus to remain flexible. This route is monopolized by a company called Unica-Facil, which we noticed: few departures, delays, and bad value for money. Additional frustrations: the Rio Novo station is hard to reach, the traffic very unforgiving, and the bus station in Petropolis still a 20m taxi from the city. Maybe we went too indie-traveler on this one, and the city is better explored with a slightly more expensive guided tour.

The day after was one we had been looking forward to for a long time: our hang-glide adventure. After meeting our pilot on Sao Conrado beach, we drove up the Pedra Bonita for take-off. It was the absolute highlight of our stay in Rio – a must-do if your physical condition allows it. Judge for yourselves:

We’re flying high…
We’re flying right up to the sky…

Both feet back on the ground, we realized how alluring the clean blue water of the Sao Conrado bay itself looked. We may have swum in our undies here, as we had not brought our swimming gear. This beach turned out to be the cleanest & quietest of our Rio stay, and we highly recommend it if you want to get away from the hustle & bustle for a bit. Once cooled off, we slowly made our way back to the hotel for siesta & pool.

Our last full day was one of culture: we started at the Kobra art near the cruise terminal – the largest mural in the word:

From there, we started making our way through the old city – ending in Lapa. Some impressions:

Museu do Amanhã
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Candelária
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Candelária
Assembleia Legislativa
Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião
Theatro Municipal 
Carioca Aqueduct
Escadaria Selarón
Jenk owling – remember when that was a thing?
Copacabana Fort
Jenk & his big guns

We concluded our day on Ipanema Beach, a pretty insane place on a Sunday afternoon we soon learned:

There is a beach in this picture somewhere, we swear!

The day after, our flight to Salvador was only at 5PM. This meant we still had plenty of time to enjoy Copacabana Beach & our hotel pool a bit more before having to leave Rio behind.

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