After scanning through options for our spring break trip, I chose to surprise my family with a trip to Rio de Janeiro. This was a placed we had never thought of and was a mystery for all of us, we didn’t know what to expect.
This trip started when we flew to Rio de Janeiro, landing at the airport and reaching the hotel without even knowing what time it was. Unsure about where to visit, we left our bags and turned a couple of corners, stumbling onto Copacabana beach. Just a short distance from the sea, there were small kiosks lined up, each offering different types of food and in most of them there were artists playing music live. You could feel the samba carrying you away and you just floated. I hadn’t felt this relaxed in a city I had just met in a long time.
That’s what Rio felt like to me, relaxation, music and just enjoying the moment. Every day we spent there was amazing, from walking along the coastline or in the maze of streets all the way from Copacabana to Ipanema; of course, stopping at the famous café to listen to the song and watch people walk by. Even though we were incredibly relaxed, there wasn’t a day we were still. We visited Sugarloaf Mountain, the Maracanã stadium, and the Metropolitan Cathedral; each completely different and incredible. From walking further into the city and visiting the Museum of Tomorrow with its amazing architecture and inspiring expositions, the Escadaria Selarón with all its colors, or going to Beco das Garrafas to buy some great CDs, vinyl’s or books, or buy tickets for one of the great bossa nova concerts that happen some nights; this city is definitely worth it. For me, the best will always be being by the beach, drinking something typical and listening to the samba or bossa nova surround you.
While staying in Rio we set up a couple of day trips to enjoy things around the city. The first day trip we took was to Petropolis, which is as cool as its name. This colonial city is just a bus ride away and is known as the former home of emperor Pedro II, Brazil’s last emperor. This is a gorgeous place to wind down from the constant movement of the city and visit something a little more historic. The Imperial Museum was amazing, the beautiful building is rivaled only by what’s inside; an extra for this visit is that in order to protect the ancient floors you must wear special slippers inside. To just walk by this town and enjoy the views, like the Serra dos Ògraos or the Palacio Rio Negro, it floated you away from everything else.
The second daytrip we took was to Tijuca Forest, just a short bus ride away from the hotel. We actually started by visiting the Christ Statue which represents Rio so well, going up to the top of Corcovado mountain and enjoying the view early in the morning as well as admiring the giant statue. The park has an entrance near Parque Lage where you can begin walking up, enjoying being surrounded by nature and all kinds of beautiful animals. All just a few minutes away from the city. Stopping by Cachoeiro do Horto and seeing all the water crash down was amazing and there was so much peace around, everything quieted down in a natural bliss. Returning to the city after this was a shock; it was an amazing change of setting.