Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

We flew from Iguaçu and landed in Rio early afternoon. We were SO excited to have arrived in this iconic city.

We were picked up from the airport and driven across to our hotel in the Copacabana area of the city. The drive took about an hour and I think most of us had our noses pressed to the glass the entire time trying to take in any of the city sights we could. We caught our first glimpse out across Sugar Loaf Mountain which was pretty incredible to say the least.

Arriving in Rio for me was definitely one of those ‘pinch me’ moments.

We were staying at the CLH Suites Domingos Ferreira which was definitely one of the nicer places we had staying during the trip. I had a HUGE room to myself, again with multiple beds! The hotel was just one street away from the famous Copacabana beach and some of the rooms had views out over the ocean – I, sadly, only had the view of a dark alleyway. Oh the glamour.

We all took about half an hour or so to get settled, showered etc before heading out to explore. Hunger, as always, got the better of us so we decided to head out to a restaurant just across from the beach to have a late lunch. Before ordering, a couple of the girls and I couldn’t resist the urge to go dip our feet in the sand, and get our first proper views up at Sugar Loaf Mountain! Copacabana beach was exactly as I imagined it, cocktails bars selling Caipirinhas, jazz music playing in the background, beautiful people wandering around whilst football matches took place here there and everywhere. At one point I almost took a ball to the head, probably for being the most inappropriately dressed person for the beach. Don’t let those clouds fool you – it wasn’t half muggy in Rio.

Having dusted the sand off our toes, we headed back to the restaurant and set about ordering. I really wanted to try traditional Brazilian food and so the waiter suggested that I ordered chicken with feijoada. Feijoada is one of Brazil’s national dishes and consists of a lightly spiced stew made of black beans.

As a celebratory dish, feijoada is traditionally served on Saturday afternoons or Sunday lunch and intended to be a leisurely midday meal. It is meant to be enjoyed throughout the day and not eaten under rushed circumstances. Because of the dish’s heavy ingredients and rich flavours, feijoada is viewed as Brazilian soul food.

According to legend, the origins of Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, stem from the country’s history with slavery. Slaves would supposedly craft this hearty dish out of black beans and pork leftovers given to them from their households. These leftovers included pig feet, ears, tail, and other portions seen as unfit for the master and his family. However, this theory has recently been contested and considered more of a modern advertising technique for the dish rather than a basis for its origins. Instead, scholars argue that the history of feijoada traces back to Brazil’s cultivation of black beans. Because of the crop’s relatively low cost of production and the simplicity of its maintenance, the beans became a staple food among European settlers in Brazil. Although black beans were eaten by both the upper-classes and the poor, the upper-classes particularly enjoyed them with an assortment of meat and vegetables, while the poor and enslaved usually ate a mixture of black beans and manioc flour.

Feijoada is literally delicious and an absolute must if you visit Rio! Ours was served with rice and chips and was incredibly filling!

I loved feijoada so much that I made some for myself when I came back from Brazil; the recipe I used was as below, and it was incredibly similar to the flavours we tasted in Rio.

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
1 carrot, chopped into rounds
1 stick of celery, chopped
½ leek, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
350g black beans, cooked
300ml vegetable stock
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

1. In a large pan, cook the onion in the oil for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, leek and bay leaf. Stir well and cook gently for about 20 minutes, without browning the vegetables.

2. Add the tomato puree, spices and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring well to combine.

3. Add the beans, stock, garlic, tamari and vinegar. Turn up the heat and cook until the sauce has thickened to coat the beans and vegetables. Season well to and serve sprinkled with coriander.

All now completely full, we headed back down towards the beach for a bit of an explore.

We strolled down the promenade of Copacabana beach taking in the atmosphere. It was late afternoon now and the areas was certainly starting to get busier. Men started setting upside roadside beach bars whilst others laid out there souvenir stalls out on blankets on the ground. We literally just wandered around, taking in all the sights and sounds, tastes even, at one of the little churros stands – it was incredible!

If you continue walking south and away from Copacabana you’re treated to the most incredible views out over the beach and up across to Sugar Loaf. It literally was beautiful and of course we couldn’t resist taking all the photos!

When you come to the end of Copacabana beach you meet a little headland which houses the ‘Forte de Copacabana’; and active military base and Brazilian Army museum which is open to the public. Interestingly the fort hosted the cycling road race (start and finish), the marathon swimming and the triathlon events at the 2016 Olympics.

As you wander through the neighbourhood here you can still catch glimpses back to the impact which the Olympics and the World Cup had on the city which is pretty cool to see.

Having walked inland a bit, and up past the fort headland, you find yourself at another Rio land mark – Ipanema Beach.

The beach at the neighbourhood of Ipanema became known internationally with the popularity of the Bossa Nova jazz song, “The Girl from Ipanema” famously sang by Frank Sinatra.

The story behind this song is actually super interesting.

It was the summer 1962 in Rio de Janeiro. At the Veloso Bar, a block from the beach at Ipanema, two friends—the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and the poet Vinícius de Moraes—were drinking Brahma beer and musing about their latest song collaboration.

The duo favoured the place for the good brew and the even better  – the girl watching opportunities. Though they were both married men, they certainly were not  above a little ogling. Especially when it came to a particular neighbourhood girl nicknamed Helô ; an eighteen-year-old native of Rio. She was  tall and tanned, with emerald green eyes and long, dark wavy hair. The duo had seen her on numerous occasions as she was heading to the beach or coming home from school. Moraes described the way she walked as “sheer poetry.”

Legend has it that Jobim and de Moraes were so inspired by Helô that they wrote a song for her right there on the bar napkins!

We headed onto the sandy beach, and for the one moment in my life, I was the girl (from) on Ipanema. My walking however probably wasn’t quite such ‘sheer poetry’ – more clumsy if truth be told. As this video will highlight…

We did however have a great time dipping our toes in the warm ocean as the sun faded. It was super exiting to just be there!

From Ipanema we wandered back towards Copacabana, where the night market was now in full swing.

Now I love a market. I love a market even more when it’s full of gorgeous jewellery at beyond ridiculous prices. Apparently I kept walking around exclaiming ‘two pounds! This was only two pounds’…! Let’s just say I was very happy with all my purchases.

From the market we all headed back to the hotel, via the supermarket, and set about on having showers etc and getting ready for our first night out in Rio!

We all loved the atmosphere around Copacabana and so decided to head back to that area for the evening. In the end we set about choosing the Skol bar which was right on the beach and had a fantastic live band. It honestly was brilliant.

We ordered a few different dishes – my favourite being the black bean and ham croquettes, and enjoyed the music and the atmosphere whilst sipping on delicious caipirinhas.

The night escalated a bit for a few of us that evening and we ended up having an impromptu after party in Blake’s room until 6am. 6am.

Luckily the next morning wasn’t too (!) painful and we were all so excited to get out and start exploring Rio.

We had organised to take part in the Rio free walking tour so we headed to Carioca Square where the tour starts.

There was a pretty cool market in the area which we had a quick wander around. I headed to one of the little food stalls where I got my first taste of another typically Brazilian food; Coxinha.

I must admit, I had no idea what this was when I bought it, a nice local lady clearly saw the confusion in my face and came over to explain what they were!

Coxhina (which literally translates as ‘little thigh’) consists of shredded chicken covered in a type of potato dough, which molded into a shape resembling a chicken leg (hence the same!), which is then battered and fried.

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Interestingly, in the book Stories & Recipes, Nadir Cavazin says that the son of Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil (1846-1921) and Prince Gaston, Count of Eu, a child who lived in seclusion for having mental problems had a favorite dish, chicken, but only would only ever eat the thighs.

One day, not having enough thigh, the cook decided to turn a whole chicken into thighs, shredding it and making the filling for a flour dough shaped into a drumstick. The child endorsed the results. It is said that when she was visiting the child, Empress Teresa Cristina, could not resist the tasty delicacy; she liked it so much she requested that the master of the imperial kitchen learn how to prepare the snack.

Now controversially, I can’t say I was a huge fan of the Coxinha… it was definitely tasty, but very stodgy and heavy. I really could only eat a few bites at most. Super interesting to try though.

Having all wandered, and cured any lingering hangover from the night before, we headed to the meeting point in the square where we met our guide Clara who had lived in Rio all her life. Clara began by telling us a little about the actual history of the city, which, as all good lessons do, started with a little language lesson.

The name Rio de Janeiro, which translates in English to literally ‘January River’, was the result of a mistake by Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos. Lemos left Portugalin 1501 on an expedition and arrived at a huge bay in Brazil, known nowadays as Guanabara Bay, the following January. Mistakenly thinking the bay was the mouth of a river, he decided to call the area Rio de Janeiro after the month he arrived there.

Nowadays there’s a nickname for the people that come from Rio de Janeiro, Cariocas, which is an indigenous word. Before the Portuguese settled in Rio, the area was occupied by several tribes such as Puri, Botocudo, Maxakali and Tupi. The origin of Carioca comes from Kara’i oka, a word from the indigenous Tupi language. There are two contending theories behind this term. The first is that it means ‘House of Carijo’, which was the name of a native tribe in Rio. The second theory, which tends to be more widely accepted as fact, is it means ‘House of the White Man.’

Clara walked us up a stone façade of a beautiful white building which; the Convent of St Anthony; the first building erected in Rio back in 1608! In the entrance way to the Convent you can admire paintings of what the convent and the surrounding area would have looked like throughout different stages in history which was certainly very interesting to see!

Having stepped out of the beautiful convent, Clara pointed to a modern building up on the other side of the square. This building, the Petrobras Headquarters, Clara explained, has been voted as one of the ugliest buildings in Rio, and not only that – one of the top 10 ugliest buildings in the world! The building has been described as a cross between a penitentiary and an unfinished Lego creation. A dreary, block-like structure who’s exterior slats give the illusion that the building is actually falling apart. I must admit, it wasn’t the most beautiful of buildings, certainly, but I do think top ten ugly in the world is a bit severe!

We soon left the Carioca squar and wanfered through the city across to another landmark site; the famous Confeitaria Colombo.

Opened in 1894, Colombo is the oldest Rio restaurant in its original building. The establishment’s belle époque architecture is a reminder of a grander Rio. Wrought-iron-rimmed mirrors extend to the first floor’s molded gold-trim ceiling, and the dining room of the second floor has a large opening that allows the stained-glass ceiling of the building to be visible from the ground. Soft yellow lights illuminate the elegant glass cases on the walls and the round marble-topped tables where sweets and snacks are served on turquoise-accented china.

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Until 1970, men were required to come in suits and ties and women in hats. The charm of Colombo nowadays is that thanks to its relatively accessible prices (a pastry can be as low as $3), you’ll come across families and tourists from other parts of Brazil who step inside Colombo’s gilded walls for a taste of what was once Rio’s glamorous life. Distinguished guests have included Belgian King Albert I and Queen Elizabeth, not to mention Brazilian presidents Getúlio Vargas (one of Brazil’s most divisive historical figures) and Juscelino Kubitschek (who would take the capital away from Rio and build a new one, Brasília, from scratch).

With a largely Portuguese menu of sweets, sandwiches and crepes, Brazilian items, such as feijoada, have also crept onto the menu. But as a confeitaria, sweets are hands-down Colombo’s forte. In fact, it sells some 50,000 pastries a month! Highlights include the pastel de avelã (hazlenut pastry), a richly nutty treat, and the mil folhas de creme (flaky pastry with custard). Crepes are almost too rich to eat alone, like the crepe de quatro queijos e nozes, with rich white cheeses and whole pecans! Amazing! Not being a huge sweet person, I opted for a savoury Coxhina; this time made with chicken and cream cheese. I thought that I might prefer the ones made here a little more than earlier, but no, definitely not a huge fan!

Elle chose a sweet treat which she said was absolutely delicious!

I loved walking around this particular area of Rio, the lanes were cobbled and lined with palm trees. The old houses were brightly coloured with beautiful ornate windows and balconies. Just like Colombo, you could really get an impression of what life in Rio might have been like in days gone by.

Clara pointed out an interesting feature of the old houses in these neighbourhoods; many of them have super high doors. Why you might ask? Well for the horses of course! Apparently it was too dangerous to leave horses tied up ont eh streets in the evening in Rio for the fear that they would be stolen. Well just bring them inside then – problem solved!

The next stop off on our trip was the Paço Imperial – the Imperial Palace.

Previously known as the Royal Palace of Rio de Janeiro and Palace of the Viceroys; The Paço Imperial was built in the 18th century to serve as residence for the governors of colonial Brazil. From 1808, it was used as a royal residence by King John VI of Portugal as King of Portugal and later also as King of Brazil. In 1822 it became the city palace of the monarchs of the Empire of Brazil, Pedro I and Pedro II, who used it not as a residence, but as a workplace. It was one of the main political centers of Brazil for nearly 150 years, from 1743 to 1889.

Clara took this opportunity to tell us a little more  the colonisation of Brazil took place.

Although long inhabited by prehistoric tribes and settlements, Brazil underwent an entirely new kind of habitation during the 16th century. In April 1500, the Portuguese arrived on the Bahian shores of Rio Buranhém, under the direction of Pedro Alvares Cabral. These ones documented seeing indigenous inhabitants upon landing on the beach, who greeted them with peace offerings of headdresses made from parrot feathers.

Although the Portuguese sailors stayed for only nine days, the indigenous people soon became fascinated by the iron tools used, the Catholic mass service observance and the alcoholic beverages that they observed. Because of this perceived interest in the Roman Catholic religion, the Portuguese assumed that these ones would quickly convert to Christianity once educated.

Cabral sent a ship back to Portugal carrying various kinds of timber and a report on the area for the king. The rest of the 12 ships in the fleet left Brazil for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, leaving behind two convicts. These men, otherwise bound for execution, were then given the opportunity to learn the local language and live with the indigenous people, procreating with them and introducing the Portuguese culture to the gene pool.

Still, Portugal did not really appreciate the value of Brazil, since their imports came mainly from India and the Far East. It was only the New Christian (who were converted Jews) investors that were scouting and defending the coast. These ones traded in brazilwood and would share their monopoly contracts with the Portuguese king. The king would then allow private investors to conquer certain areas for their own benefit, but at their own costs. This led to a combination of royal and private ownership.

Towards the end of the 1500’s, the ‘Indians’ fled to the interior parts of Brazils to escape the colonial elements. So, the European settlers imported slaves from Africa. It is largely due to this mass introduction of African men and women that Brazil boasts a culture and heritage based very much on those found in Africa.

Later, The French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars deeply affected Brazil, although the main events of those conflicts unfolded across the Atlantic. In 1807 Napoleon I invaded Portugal, a British ally, largely to tighten the European blockade of Great Britain. The Portuguese prince regent Dom João (later King John VI [João VI]) decided to take refuge in Brazil, making it the only colony to serve as the seat of government for its mother country. The prince, the royal family, and a horde of nobles and functionaries left Portugal on November 29, 1807, under the protection of the British fleet. After several delays, they arrived at Rio de Janeiro on March 7, 1808.

Clara described an interesting story to us of the day that the Portuguese Royal Family arrived in Rio; seeing as the crossing was so long on the ship; many of the Portuguese women on the vessel shaved their heads due to the fleas on the boat. When the Brazilian people saw the women with their bald heads they assumed it must be a fashion in Europe and many tried to emulate the look themselves!

We popped inside the grounds of the palace briefly. There are still ruins inside where you can see where the royal mint used to make their coins. That was super interesting to see.

We left the palace forecourts and continued to wander; stopping outside the Department of Culture building which really was beautiful.

Opposite the regal building, Clara pointed out a strange looking tree; the ‘Cannon Ball Tree’ which is native to the Amazon Rainforest. Apparently the fruit of the cannon ball tree is actually edible although rarely ever is because of its pungent smell. It is therefore used to feed livestock such as pigs and domestic fowl.

Clara did explain however that there are many medicinal uses for the plant. Native Amazonians use extracts of several parts of the tree to treat hypertension, tumors, pain, and inflammation. It has been used to treat the common cold, stomach ache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache.

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We continued walking around the city until we came to one of the most incredible squares within the Rio; the Praça Alagoas.

This lovely square houses some of the cities most important buildings; the National Library (Fundação Biblioteca Nacional) The Municipal Theater (Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro), the Fine Arts Museum (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) and the City Consulate (Câmara Municipal do Rio de Janeiro). All of these buildings were so grande and ornate that even if you don’t step insude just admiring their facades is pretty amazing.

Clara explained that this area of the city was the ‘old Broadway’ of the city; this is apparent by the sheer number of old theatres that line the streets.

Whilst we visited Rio it was the week before the controversial policial elections and therefore there was a fair bit of unrest in the city. We had been advised not to visit certain areas as people’s sensitivities were, erm ‘heightened’. In all honesty I didn’t notice it much in the city at all. However we did come across a few protests in Praça Alagoas.

Having left this area we continued walking and decided it was well and truly time to treat ourselves to some more tranditional Brazilian sweets. This time it was all about the chocolaty, fudgey ‘brigadeiros’. These super sweet little desserts are made of three ingredients, condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter but boy do they pack a punch. Let’s just say there is a reason they are small!

These sprinkle covered little balls also have an interesting story as to how they came to be so popular.

In 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, Brazil was in campaign time for the election of a new president. The candidate Eduardo Gomes, whose military rank was Brigadier (brigadeiro), had enormous success among women, which was evidenced by his slogan of the campaign that was “Vote for the Brigadier who is handsome and single!”

Therefore, his most devoted voters decided to try to promote his campaign by organizing parties to raise funds and to give even more visibility to their candidate. Contrary to selling the usual electoral merchandising, they decided to make a candy to be sold in these meetings. There was, however, a problem. As it was in post-war times there was an immense lack of fresh milk and sugar, which complicated the task of making any candy. So they decided to resort to condensed milk, mixing it with butter and chocolate.

It was created what was then known as “the candy of the Brigadeiro” and was sold during the campaign, trying to achieve votes through the palate of the electorate. The candy was a success, but the candidate turned out not to be elected.

The lure of the sweetness being too much to resist, we set about trying another Brazilian national sweet; ‘Cocada’ a rustic treat made with coconut and sugar. Interestingly, historically, the cocada was introduced to  Brazil as a ritual dish – “comida dos orixás” (food of the gods) by an African ethic group known as the “Yorubas”. This was a little more up my street – even though it was still incredibly sweet!

Energised from our sugar buzz, we continued wandering until we reached the neighbourhood of Lapa. One of the most famous parts of Lapa (apart from it’s reputation as the place in Rio to go for good nightlife) is the Arcos da Lapa (”arches of Lapa”) Aqueduct.

The Acqueduct was built in 1723 in an effort to provide clean water to the city, given the fact that Rio was , at that time, surrounded by swamps filled with unhygienic water.

The aqueduct was deactivated at the end of the 19th century, as new alternatives to supply water to Rio were developed. The structure was adapted in 1896 to serve as a viaduct for a tram line – the Bonde de Santa Teresa (Santa Teresa Tramway) which transported passengers between the centre of   Rio and the hilly Santa Teresa neighbourhood.

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In August 2011, an accident occurred whereby the brakes apparently failed leaving five people dead when the tram came off the tracks. In response, all service on the line was indefinitely suspended, but plans to rebuild the line and replace the old tramcars (with faux-vintage replicas) were subsequently approved. The line is now party opened and we were lucky enough to see one pass over whilst we were there.

Looming above the aqueduct is a a really bizzare looking building; the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro (Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião).

If at first glance Rio’s Metropolitan Cathedral reminds you of some kind of ancient Mayan pyramid, that’s because it was specifically designed to look like one. As a matter of fact, the designers behind the modernist cathedral didn’t want it to look like any other cathedral in the city at all, (or even the world, for that matter), and decided to base its ground-breaking design off of an ancient Mayan pyramid from the island of Yucatan. Because of this, the cathedral’s unique conical shape actually has a flat top (which is identical to the Yucatan pyramid), and was designed to symbolize the people’s closeness with God.

The cathedral’s unique architecture is thanks to a group of architects, engineers and even priests who worked together in creating its unique design. Edgar Fonseca (who was once a student of Oscar Niemeyer, a famed Brazilian architect) was the architect, Newton Sotto Major and Joaquim Correa were the engineers, and the interior was designed by Father Paulo Lachen Maeir (who also designed the cathedral’s new sacristy and font).

And although the exterior of the cathedral is certainly something to behold, the exquisite design of its interior is another thing entirely.

With a whopping 8,000 square metres of space that can hold up to 20,000 standing attendees at any given time, one can’t help but look up in awe at the countless stained glass windows that seem to stretch on for miles. These windows reach up to the cathedral’s massive ceiling like vertical columns, providing a sort of kaleidoscope of colours when the light shines through them. And if you look up at the ceiling towards the massive cross, beams of colour shine down vertically towards you from both of the cross’ arms, making you feel as if you’re being “caressed by the rays of God.”

Not only that, you could also easily spend hours upon hours studying each and every intricate detail of its interior alone, thanks to the 48 stunning bronze reliefs, and even sculptures by Humberto Cozzi, and chandeliers which were designed by Nicola Zanotto.

The cathedral also contains a Sacred Art Museum in its basement which boasts a collection of massive sculptures, artwork, murals and even fonts which were once used to baptize members of the Portuguese royal family.

 

From the centre of Lapa, we continued walking until we arrived in a heavily graffitied alley way which led to one of Rio’s most recent additions to the city’s landmark list; the Escadaria Selarón (‘Selarón Steps’).

This brightly coloured stairway is made up of 250 steps and measures 125 meters long. They connect the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa, leading from Rua Joaquím Silva up to Rua Pinto Martins.

Their splendour is not only due to size, but to décor; the steps are adorned in over 2,000 brightly coloured tiles from more than sixty different countries. The stairway, with its impressive size and bold colours, attracts tourists from all over the globe who come to admire, take photos and donate tiles from their homelands. It’s quite fund wandering around the steps and finding towns near to home/ towns you have visited before.

The man behind the stairs is Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón who, born in 1947, left his hometown in Chile to travel the world at the tender age of seventeen. He journeyed to 57 countries, staying anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, before landing in Brazil in 1983. He  became captivated by the Cidade Maravilhosa and decided to stay put. “There is nothing like Rio,” said Selarón, “Name any other city…Rio is 1,000 times better.” In 1990 Selarón began work on the decrepit stairway outside of his house. He had little money or food, and no experience with sculpture. He began adding to the steps using whatever he could get his hands on. Tiles found in urban waste piles, mirrors and original paintings covered the steps, with Selarón modifying and replacing visually unappealing pieces whenever he had extra money.

When you’ll visit the site, you’ll realise that there are many hand-painted tiles that have an image of an African pregnant women. Selarón never really commented about her. He just answered that she represented a “personal problem from the past”. So we don’t really know what’s the story behind the pregnant women. There are several different theories of her being Selaron’s ex-wife that either died or left him, but for us, this is going to stay as a secret.

The steps were slowly transformed from a decaying brown mass to a whimsical mosaic cascade. After ten years of work came a spot in a Fanta commercial, and the resulting deserved recognition. The stairway’s popularity increased and it was soon a sightseeing staple for tourists.

The eccentric 63-year-old explained it as a constantly mutating piece of art, ever-changing as more tiles and inspiration pour in. “It’s like if the stairway was alive. It’s always changing and becoming more beautiful…You see and feel the difference.”

We literally ha so much fun clambering around the steps and talking lots of photos! Something that we did learn that was pretty eery was that the artist, Jorge, was found dead on the steps in 2013 having been burnt… The police claim it was suicide.

The steps been featured in everything from Fanta commercials to the pages of National Geographic, with their international recognition growing to include appearances in music videos, documentaries, newspapers, and travel shows. Most recently they appeared in Rio’s poignant 2016 Olympic video bid “The Passion Unites Us”. One of the most famous music video which the stairs have featured in is Snoop Dog and Pharrell’s track ‘Beautiful’ – of course, we couldn’t resist re-creating the magic. Uncanny right…?

At the bottom of the steps you can have caipirinha’s made freshly in front of you for pennies – they are absolutely delicious and definitely a must do when you visit.

Having spent some time at the steps, and feeling a little squiffy from our Caiprinhas, we said goodbye to everyone on a tour and hopped into an uber to take us across to our next stop for the day – El Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redeemer.

There’s a few different options to get up to Christ Redeemer, but as we were a little pushed for time we decided to go with the slightly pricier option, but the option that would get us up there a little quicker. We arrived at the Trem do Corcovado, the little tram station which takes you up the mountain. A little tip – make sure you sit on the left hand side as you are afforded much better views on your way up.  We soon arrived and made our way up to the few flights of stairs until we arrived at the base of the statue. WOW. Know there is no doubting it, this was definitely another ‘pinch me I’m here’ moment.

Built between 1922 and 1931, Christ the Redeemer looks down over Rio from a perch atop Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park. Chosen from several design submissions, the statue was a collaboration between French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski and Brazilian civil engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. In 2007, the statue was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World through international voting.

Christ the Redeemer was constructed from reinforced concrete and soapstone and stands at an amazing 98 feet tall without its pedestal. Before visiting I knew that the statue would be huge but I really didn’t have any concept of how big it actually is. To put it in perspective, I am shorter than the statue’s nose.

It was pretty cloudy the entire time we were in Rio, and although it would have been nice to see the statue with bright blue skies, the clouds did give a cool, almost eerie, vibe across the water. From way up here you can look on onto Sugarloaf Mountain, the cities and the beach below. Its stunning.

We spent a ridiculous amount of time up at the Statue just taking it all in, and of course, trying to perfect our very own redeemer pose!

One little tip there’s a really cute little chapel at the base of the statues feet which is a good little place to pop into whilst you’re up in the Gods.

We soon came back down to earth and headed back towards the hotel  – it’s safe to say that after a jam packed day exploring Rio, we were all pretty knackered. Especially those of us who had been up until 6am the night before.

We all spent maybe an hour or so back in our rooms showering and getting ready before heading out for our final evening in Rio.

Camillo took us to a restaurant, again out on Copacabana which, erm, wasn’t great, but filled a hole. It was a buffet style place, however nothing like the buffet we had been treated to in Iguacu. I, of course, made sure that I filled myself up with plenty more feijoada!

We then headed down to the beach to an evening of dancing and plenty of Caiperinhas which was hilarious. The videos themselves will show how the evening escalated!

This was our last trip all together having travelled for the last two and a half week. Some people were flying home, others to Peru, California – me back to Buenos Aires. We had such a brilliant time together and were definitely sad to say goodbye! What a trip!

 I will make one admission; I treated myself to a bit of pampering at the business lounge at Rio Airport prior to my flight back to Buenos Aires. It was fab. I even finally got to taste traditional Brazilian cheese balls, Pão de Queijo, which were totally delicious! 

Brazil you were fantastic and I cannot wait tor return and explore further someday! 

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