Rio de Janeiro is getting a bad rap… It has been all over the news in a mostly negative way, but I have only positive things to say about Rio! Grant and I went in summer 2013 to check off a new continent and explore the famous city! We went over 4th of July weekend so it was a short trip but we had a wonderful experience and I am itching to get back to South America.
Reason #1: Acai
Acai bowls are the JAM. They are so delicious and a healthy power food combo that somehow tastes like candy. Acai bowls are huge in San Diego and I eat them at least 1x a week. When we visited Rio I wasn’t addicted yet, it was actually my first acai experience! We even ordered our first one at a convenience store (cringe) but they are literally on every corner since Brazil is the birthplace of acai! It was simple, no granola or fruit topping, but DELISH and started up the craving train for me! Not getting an acai bowl in Brazil is like not getting sweet tea in GA, a sin.
Reason #2: Cristo Redentor
If you google a picture of Rio this is what you see. This massive statue of Jesus is AMAZING! The view is equally impressive. It was super crowded so watch out for pickpockets and rogue monkeys but even amidst the crowds there is a serene feeling of being surrounded by beautiful nature while so close to this iconic statue. Insider Tip: Try to spot Cristo Redentor at night time when you’re in the city. He is always shining on the mountaintop.
Reason #3: Coxinha
Like acai, coxinha is an OG Brazilian food and delicious! It is fried potato dough filled with a spicy, cheesy, chicken mix. YUM. We ordered them at the same convenience store we got the acai and they completed this perfect Brazilian combo. Luckily, my acai man across the street in San Diego, Amazona Acai , sells them so I can keep getting my coxinha fix!
Reason #4: Samba Clubs
Samba is salsa’s Brazilian sister. We went to a samba club with a couple from our hostel and it was so much fun. It was pretty much a sweaty, dance filled night trying to keep up with locals! Side note: We went to another club with some people from our hostel and their drink system is very different than other countries. Instead of having a tab or paying per drink, you have a number and then cash out with a cashier at the end. (It’s weirder than it sounds) Look into it before you travel, so you’re good to go!
Reason #5: Caipirinhas
If a mojito and a margarita had a baby, it would be a caipirinha! These drinks are so tasty! Definitely a refreshing cocktail to cool down with on the beach or at the samba club. You must order one while in Rio.
Reason #6: The Beaches
Brazil’s beaches are stunning! Ipanema and Copacabana are the beaches we went to and they were divine! Wide, white sandy beaches sprinkled with local food and clothing vendors with the backdrop of mountains = BEAUTIFUL. Insider tip: Go in the low season (US summer months) because it is WAY less crowded and the weather is still perfect.
Reason #7: Churrascarias
These famous Brazilian steakhouses are what Fogo de Chao is modeled after. The servers come around with endless supplies of meat and you play the ol’ waiting game. They purposefully save the best stuff for last! Impatient Grant couldn’t wait and we ended up with chicken hearts… YUCK. We’re not huge beef eaters, but it was pretty good and definitely a must do in Brazil.
Reason #8: Waterfalls
On the way back from Cristo Redentor our cab driver took us to an awesome waterfall. It was in the jungle but right off the main paved road and very easy to get to. There are many more in Brazil’s dense rainforest but we stayed in the city for our short trip so it was nice to find an easily accessible one nearby!
Reason #9: Brazilian Bikinis
I love bikinis and have entirely too many. During my freshman year of college I literally quoted that as my icebreaker for the first day of school (not my smartest moment). Currently living by the beach and planning to forever, beautiful bathing suits are a necessity! On the beaches in Ipanema and Copacabana ladies come by selling gorgeous Brazilian swimsuits and they are a steal! Be sure to stock up on your next trip.
While the media focus is on the Olympics, Zika, and poor water conditions, I think some of the best parts of Rio are getting lost in the shuffle. Hopefully you’re as eager to visit as I am for a return trip.
For more information on Brazil, grab this Lonely Planet guide book.
Stay beautiful Brazil,
Inspired Recipe: Classic Acai Bowl from Bakerita
To be honest I have tried and failed at the acai making game! This recipe is for a classic, simple bowl and though mine was tasty I didn’t have it quite right. But every time I spend $7 on one I am motivated to give it the ol’ college try and get back in the kitchen! Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!
*Did you make one of our inspired recipes? We would love to see! Send us a photo of your yummy creation on twitter (@GypsySols) or instagram (@GypsySols)