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Brazil Travel:Rio de Jenairo

Updated: Oct 20, 2023




On January 6, 2022, my adventure took a detour from the dizzying heights of La Paz, Bolivia, when I caught a flight bound for Brazil. But fate had a special stopover in store for me: the captivating town of Cochabamba.


Tucked away in Bolivia, Cochabamba is a world away from the hustle of La Paz. Whereas La Paz astounds with its high altitude coolness, Cochabamba wraps you in a gentle, warmer embrace. The town is a blend of old-world charm and contemporary vibes. Its streets are lined with colonial buildings, reflecting a rich tapestry of history, interspersed with modern cafes where the aroma of fresh Bolivian coffee lingers.


Given my budget and proximity to the airport, I found a comfortable transient home through Airbnb. It was nothing extravagant, but it was cozy, convenient, and came with a promise of a good night's sleep. However, rest was the last thing on my mind! Even with just a day in hand, my wanderlust spirit led me on a DIY tour. I strolled through the bustling markets, where each stall told a story, tasted delectable local delicacies, and lounged in the city’s serene parks, soaking in the laid-back ambiance.


Just as I was getting acclimatized to Cochabamba's rhythm, it was time to jet off to Sao Paulo, where another whirlwind 24 hours awaited me. But the crown jewel of my journey was still ahead: the mesmerizing Rio de Janeiro.


As my plane soared away from Bolivia, I bid adieu to the country that had been my home for a while. But as one chapter ended, I eagerly flipped the page, knowing my solo South American odyssey was only beginning.





On January 7th, as my plane touched down in Sao Paulo, a palpable sense of excitement took over. I checked into the Hampton By Hilton Airport Hotel, a strategic choice given its stone's throw distance from Guarulhos International Airport. What truly sealed the deal for me was their complimentary shuttle service – a blessing for any traveler.



The logistics couldn’t have been simpler. Upon confirming your stay, the hotel hands out the shuttle schedule, making the transition seamless. For first-time visitors, locating the pick-up point might seem daunting, but not here. As I stepped out into the arrival promenade, the covered walkway led me straight to the shuttle area, located conveniently to the right, marked by a parking slot. Periodically, airport shuttles, emblazoned with their respective hotel names, hustle and bustle, ready to whisk away weary travelers.


Night had already draped Sao Paulo by the time I settled into my room. The fleeting nature of my stay only allowed me a single day, which began with a brisk breakfast the next morning. With a final glance at the city, I hopped onto my shuttle back to the airport, my heart set on my next destination: Rio de Janeiro.


The flight from Sao Paulo to Rio is a breezy one, clocking in at just around an hour. As the plane descended, I was already daydreaming of the iconic sights awaiting me. Soon, I would be setting foot on the golden sands of Copacabamba Beach, ready to immerse myself in its boundless beauty.



On January 8, around the mystical hour of 1 am, my plane's wheels met the tarmac of Rio de Janeiro. The city was cloaked in darkness, with dawn's embrace still hours away. Rather than venturing out into the unfamiliar nocturnal landscape, I opted for a brief slumber at the airport. Nestled into one of the more forgiving seats, the soft hum of the airport terminal serenaded me into sleep.


As the first hints of morning light painted the sky, the animated chatter of taxi drivers began to fill the airport lobby. Yielding to their beckoning calls, I booked a taxi and, with the city slowly coming to life, made my way to my hotel by 6 am.


Arrival at my accommodation presented a small hiccup; it was too early for check-in. The weight of my travels pressed heavily on me, and I gratefully collapsed into the plush embrace of the hotel lounge. Though I hoped for an early room availability, luck wasn't on my side that morning.





Nevertheless, as the morning matured, a gentle drizzle began to fall, ushering in cool breezes from the sea. I ventured out, and soon the iconic stretch of sand lay before me - not "Cochabamba," but the world-renowned Copacabana Beach of Rio de Janeiro. The rhythmic sounds of the waves and the soft patter of raindrops combined in a lullaby, making my arrival in this magnificent city all the more poetic.





Nestled prominently along the world-famous Copacabana Beach stood my refuge: Hotel Astoria Palace. Its towering structure offered more than just a comfortable stay; atop the hotel, the roof deck beckoned with its alluring pool. From this elevated vantage point, I basked in the panoramic view of Copacabana's sweeping coastline, with the city's majestic landmarks completing the picturesque backdrop. There, silhouetted against the horizon, the iconic Christ the Redeemer seemed to watch over Rio, with the Sugarloaf Mountains promising adventures for the following day.


But Rio's allure wasn't just in its famed landscapes; the streets pulsated with life. Just around the hotel's corners, a gastronomic paradise awaited, with restaurants offering a feast for the senses. Behind the hotel, a bustling road lured me into a labyrinth of commercial shops and even more eateries. The pull of Brazilian streets was irresistible. Armed with curiosity, I

plunged into this vibrant district, collecting souvenirs and soaking in the local atmosphere.


As if drawn by an unseen force, my journey looped me back to the expansive embrace of Copacabana Beach. By now, the beach was alive with activity. Volleyball courts dotted the sands, and beach bars echoed with laughter and music. Nightfall draped Rio in a new aura.


Surrendering to the evening's charm, I settled at a beachside restaurant bar. The live band's melodies accompanied my meal, their rhythms resonating with my own sense of achievement. As I sipped my drink, I took a moment to reflect, silently celebrating the solo journey that had brought me so far.


The dawn of a new day held promises of further exploration. Tomorrow, I would embark on a whirlwind day tour of Rio de Janeiro, eager to unravel more of this city's enchantments.



The 10th of January dawned with the thrill of exploration. Having booked my full-day tour through Expedia - aptly titled "Full Day in Rio - Christ the Redeemer by Van, Sugarloaf, City Tour & BBQ" - I was raring to go. As morning unfolded, I found myself hopping into a van with fellow travelers, with the comforting realization that travel unites people from diverse backgrounds. Notably, I was the only Asian in the group, adding an extra layer of uniqueness to my experience.



Our first and most anticipated stop was the iconic Christ the Redeemer, a marvel that holds a special place among the world's renowned landmarks.



History & Significance: Christ the Redeemer, or "Cristo Redentor" in Portuguese, was conceived as a symbol of Brazilian Christianity. Erected between 1922 and 1931, this statue stands as an emblem of peace and a testament to the art deco style of sculpture. The idea for its creation dates back to the 1850s, when a Catholic priest proposed placing a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado to honor Princess Isabel, though the project didn't take off until the 1920s.


Geography: Perched atop the 700-meter high Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, the statue overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro. Its lofty position provides a panoramic view of the city, the bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the vast Atlantic beyond.


Access: Visitors typically reach the statue either by a cogwheel train that travels up the mountain or via vans and cars that traverse the winding roads. Both routes offer breathtaking views and a sneak peek into the lush Tijuca Forest.


Why It's a Must-See: Apart from its religious significance, Christ the Redeemer stands as a symbol of Rio itself. It's not just about the imposing structure (which, at 30 meters tall with a 28-meter wingspan, is impressive on its own) but the feeling of standing beneath it, enveloped by panoramic views and the sense of serenity it exudes. It's a blend of human artistry and natural beauty, making it deserving of its title as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.


As we approached this iconic structure, a collective sense of awe gripped our group. The day had just begun, and the wonders of Rio awaited our eager exploration.




There's no denying that Christ the Redeemer's inclusion among the Seven Wonders of the World has sparked debates. Many argue its place was cemented largely due to Brazil's significant population and the sheer weight of numbers in a popularity poll. Detractors claim bias and subjectivity in its selection, but the truth is, wonders of the world, whether natural or man-made, often elicit mixed emotions and subjective viewpoints.


To me, this journey was more than just ticking off a popular tourist spot; it was a pilgrimage. Being a Christian, I resonate deeply with the spiritual symbolism of the statue. That it represents our Savior, Jesus, the Redeemer, instills it with profound significance. It's not just about grandeur or artistic mastery, but a connection to faith that millions around the world cherish.


Now, standing at the foot of my second of the Seven Wonders, a surge of accomplishment and reverence washed over me. Booking a guided tour proved to be an insightful choice, offering pit stops with mesmerizing views, delightful dining options, and quaint shops selling mementos and souvenirs.


The ascent to the statue itself presented two routes: a series of steps that wind their way up or the more leisurely elevator ride. Eager to absorb every facet of this journey, I opted for the hike. Each step upwards framed the statue in a new perspective, its colossal figure becoming increasingly prominent against the vast blue sky. The surrounding lush greenery and distant echoes of Rio added layers to the sensory experience.




Reaching the summit, I was met with a sea of fellow travelers, each absorbed in their own moments of reflection, wonder, or simple admiration. The bustling ambiance at the main hall was testament to the global allure of Christ the Redeemer, an icon that transcends borders and speaks to the soul.


More photos before reaching the statue





The Heartbeat of Brazilian Football: Maracanã Stadium

Our city tour started with a pilgrimage to Maracanã Stadium, a temple of football where legends were made and dreams realized. As we approached, the colossal structure stood as a testament to Brazil's undying passion for the sport. Just outside, the statue of the legendary Pelé served as a reminder of the magic moments that had unfolded within the stadium's walls. Each step inside echoed with the roars of fans from memorable matches past.







Sambadrome: The Carnival's Vibrant Stage

The tour then took us to the heart of Rio's famed Carnival: the Sambadrome. Here, samba schools parade annually, competing in vibrant displays of dance, music, and pageantry. Our guide painted a vivid picture of the explosion of colors, sounds, and emotions that fill the space during Carnival, making it easy to imagine the spectacle.




Metropolitan Cathedral: Modernity Meets Spirituality

In the midst of Rio's bustling streets, the Metropolitan Cathedral emerged as a sanctuary of modernist architecture. Its conical structure and stained glass windows gave a unique and contemporary spin on traditional religious architecture. As we stepped inside, the play of light through the windows created a serene and contemplative atmosphere.


Sugarloaf Mountain: Rio from Above

Our next destination was the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain. As we boarded the cable car, anticipation built. The ride itself was a visual treat, providing panoramic views of Rio's sprawling cityscape against the backdrop of the vast Atlantic. Reaching the peak, we were greeted by a 360-degree vista that encompassed everything from the distant Christ the Redeemer statue to the golden beaches below. Many of us took this moment to snap photos, while others simply soaked in the breathtaking scenery.


View from sugarloaf (1st level)



A Culinary Finale: Churrasco Delight

As the sun began its descent, our gastronomic adventure commenced. The churrascaria welcomed us with the rich aroma of grilled meats. Skewer after skewer arrived, each offering a new flavor profile, with the alpaca meat standing out as an exotic highlight. This culinary journey was not just about satiating hunger but celebrating Brazil's vibrant and diverse food culture.

As the tour concluded and we were dropped off at our hotel, there was a collective feeling of gratitude. In just one day, we had experienced the soul of Rio — its rhythms, its heights, and its flavors.


More photos from the tour



The penultimate day of my Brazilian adventure beckoned with a promise of relaxation and introspection. Copacabana Beach, with its iconic curved shoreline and golden sands, was the perfect spot to reflect and recharge.

As I stepped onto the beach, the chorus of waves crashing and distant laughter filled the air. The sun cast a radiant glow on the sea, turning it into a shimmering expanse of azure. Renting a chair and umbrella from a nearby hut, I claimed a little piece of this paradise for myself.


The beach was alive with activity — from sunbathers soaking up the sun to surfers chasing waves. And yet, amidst this bustle, there existed pockets of tranquility, like the one I found for myself. Strolling vendors with their array of snacks and refreshments ensured that no beachgoer went hungry. But beyond the physical sustenance, it was the nourishment of the soul that this place offered which drew me in.


Sitting there, with the sand between my toes and the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves as my soundtrack, I lost track of time. Memories of the past days flitted through my mind, each one a cherished moment from my solo journey. The joy of exploration, the thrill of discovery, and the peace of solitude — I had experienced them all.

As January 12 dawned, signaling my impending departure, a bittersweet feeling washed over me. Brazil had been a chapter of self-discovery and adventure. And as I prepared to turn the page, heading to Colombia, I couldn't help but feel grateful. While the journey was far from over, every step, every moment was a testament to the beauty of traveling alone, of truly finding oneself amidst unfamiliar terrains.







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I'm Archsael, i am an architect and a passionate traveler who finds joy in exploring the world's wonders. This site is a tapestry of my adventures, offering unique insights and inspirations from my journeys.

 

I'm excited to share these experiences with you, providing guidance and inspiration for your future travels.

 

Join me in exploring the globe's beauty, one journey at a time."

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