Living in Rio.
This type of travel is so different from anything I’ve ever done before. We’re living here. Not rushing to see everything because we’re on a deadline.
“Only here for a week, hurry hurry!”
But truly living. Not feeling rushed. Cooking meals at home (or our AirBnB apartment which feels like home for now – And I cannot stress this enough… AirBnB is the way to go! Nicer than a hostel and so much easier on the budget than a hotel. Plus you still get your own space!). Taking tours when we want, relaxing when we need. Just being.
Typically we’re frantically trying to fit everything into a short amount of time, come home exhausted and need a vacation from our vacation. But in order to sustain this trip (and our mental capacity), we need to slow down and relax sometimes. Alternating between chill beach days, and exciting adventure tours. So far, so good! Traveling with no set agenda makes this possible.
Relaxing on the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, and LeBlon
Brazilians are extremely considerate and would do anything for their friends. Because of Marcio (our friend from Sao Paulo), we met Akira, who invited us to his house for dinner prepared by a private chef. Akira lives on Giogia Island, which is a private island outside of the city, only accessible by boat. The people we met at his dinner were some of the best and I’m proud to now call them my friends.
Another interesting aspect of the lifestyle here is the routine. The culture here seems to be: Stay up late, wake up late. Very different for us. Perhaps that’s because we haven’t figured out what our “normal” routine will be here. In Rio, we stay up until 12:30/1am and don’t wake up until 9/10am. LAZY!! We’ll figure out our schedule soon, I’m sure.
Adventure in Rio.
The real question is actually, “What isn’t there to do in Rio?” From renting bikes and exploring the coastline to hang gliding over the beaches, Rio will keep all adventurers entertained. We were able to see a fair amount on our own (beaches, biking around the lagoon, etc.), but I have to give a HUGE shoutout to Joao from Fun Times in Rio. We booked a two-day private tour with him and he showed us everything (and more)! If you’re ever in Rio, I highly recommend contacting him; let him know how much time you have in Rio, and you can choose from one of his tours or customize your own.
Absolutely breathtaking. My family has been hit with a couple health issues recently so I took some extra time to say prayers for my loved ones back home.
Hike to Pico da Pedra Bonita (only about a 30 minute hike, kinda gnarly, but totally worth the view!), with a lookout onto Pedra de Gavea which we’d love to hike this weekend with our new friends! Pedro de Gavea is 6 hours RT and includes rappelling and a great deal of experience. Hopefully we’ll be able to go, but all depends on friends’ schedules. I hear sunrise is the time to be there!
Sunset at Sugarloaf Mountain complete with monkeys! Being on the East Coast of Brazil, I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of a stellar sunset. I’m happy to say, I was proved wrong 🙂
Escadaria Selaron (aka Lapa Stairs)
We had the privilege of touring a favela, which is also known as a slum in Brazil. Some might wonder why we would want to see this, but it was an extremely humbling experience. The specific favela we saw was Rocinha, the largest favela, with approximately 150,000-200,000 undocumented residents. I had an internal struggle with why we would visit… What is the benefit of the residents to allow tourists to see their living conditions (or lack their of)? It felt invasive, rude, and frankly made me sad and uncomfortable. However, since the favelas have had a notorious reputation for being the center of drug trades in Rio for many years, the residents now want to show everyone that times have changed, it’s safer, and they actually live a more normal life than most would expect.
Unfortunately, our tour didn’t quite show that. Yes, we saw a beautiful favela that a man built from the ground up, and a few schools, along with shops and restaurants inside the alleys, but then there was the sound of fireworks. Our guide explained this is typically a warning that the locals use to signal the police are around (there is a great deal of corruption within the government and no one seems to like or trust the police. Read more here.). Then gun shots. We were overlooking the hillside with our guide when a local resident yelled down to us that we should “head out. It isn’t safe anymore”, he said. We calmly, but quickly started to exit; I have to admit, my heart was pounding. But everyone else didn’t move. Not the children, the pregnant women, grandparents, or anyone else. This is normal. This is their life. It was extremely eye-opening, humbling, and made me realize how blessed I am. My heart goes out to the residents of all the favelas in Rio.
Hang gliding at Praia do Pepino in São Conrado. This has literally been on my bucket list for 10 years. My mom actually got me a hang gliding gift certificate for high school graduation (some “shoot for the moon” analogy, of course 🙂 ) and I’m embarrassed to say I never cashed it in. So Mom, here’s to you! I promise we’ll hang glide together at Torrey Pines when I’m back home.
But Rio takes the cake — Rio is known for its hang gliding. And I must say, the view doesn’t disappoint. Honestly, I was a little nervous at first when we were so high above the ground and I had to trust the wind to guide us (and not drop us), but I’ve loved Peter Pan since I was a kid and this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to truly flying. So cheers to an amazing bucket list check point and fulfilling my inner child dream. — Also continuing my 2015 Moto: Do one thing every day that scares the sh*t out of you.
Thank you, Rio — It was truly memorable!
So for now, I’ll leave you with this time lapse (to one-up Michael)… Enjoy!