Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rio de Janeiro - A City of Surprises

What do you picture when you hear mention of Rio de Janeiro?

For me, it used to be the enormous statue of Christ high above the city

seems no matter how far away you are, you can still see the statue

or the famous beach of Copacabana.

taken on a Monday!

Despite these iconic attractions Rio was never very high on my list of places I wanted to visit. Given its population of over six million, I imagined it as a bustling, crowded city which just happened to have nice beaches and, while I adore walking along the shore, I’ve never been one for sitting for hours on the beach. However, my daughter’s decision to spend six months in Rio provided a compelling reason to visit that I was not about to turn down. And what a surprise Rio turned out to be!

For instance, did you know:

·        Everywhere you look you can see hills and mountains, some of which cut across the city.

·        Rio boasts one of the world’s largest urban forests within a city, Parque Nacional da Tijuca.

scenery like this makes it hard to believe you are in the middle of a city!

·        In the southern part of the city is a huge lake, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.Encircled by a bike/walking path of over 4.5 miles long it provides a delightful place to stroll.

·       For the more energetic visitor, the hills and mountains provide numerous hiking trails, offering a chance to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature without leaving the city.

View from the top of the favela, Vigidal, where the trail up Os Dos Irmãos begins

Great views make the slightly scary scramble up worthwhile

Made it up, but can I get back down?

·        Copacabana and Ipanema may be the most well-known of the city’s beaches, but nearly every neighborhood in the southern part of the city, whether on the bay or the ocean, has its own beach.
The beach at Urca - the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain is located nearby.

All of the above combine to give Rio some of the most stunning views I have ever seen. It certainly is worthy of the title ‘a cidade maravilhosa’ (the wonderful city) which is how the locals, known as Cariocas, refer to it. Yes, the city has its problems,  it is crowded, noisy and sometimes dangerous. But I am glad I had this unexpected opportunity to visit a city which now ranks high in my list of favorite places.

Have you ever been to Rio? What do you think of the city?

This is the first of a planned series of blogs on Rio. For more of an insight into living in Rio check out 


  1. Okay, now I definitely want to visit! Great pics, Mel.

    1. Thanks DV, glad you liked the pictures. If you get a chance to visit, I'd definitely recommend it - well worth the long journey!