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The girl from Ipanema is a Great-Grandmother now!

10-03-2018

It is time to refresh your view of Rio de Janeiro. A city where time seems to stop, friends are made on a whim and no two days are the same. Let the day take its course, a cold beer, a game of beach volleyball, some BBQ, açai juice and a nap. Explor Rio and all its beauty.

Forget whatever marketing ploys you may have seen of Rio de Janeiro from the World Cup or news bites on crime and Carnival. Time to refresh that view! This is the city of paradise, where time seems to stop, friends are made on a whim and no two days are the same.

Rio is the embodiment of a beautiful struggle, which needs to be sampled with an appetite, open mind and no preconceptions. “A fome é o melhor tempero” – Hunger is the best seasoning!

Why lie, it’s perfection!

This year marks the 450th birthday of Rio de Janeiro, the “Marvelous City” for good reason. A city that you need to experience and get lost in! Initial thoughts that come to mind when Rio is mentioned are carnival, beaches of Ipanema, caipirinhas and samba. With scenic views, amazing beaches, unique amazon- sourced food, beautiful people, and a temperate climate year round. So why are you not here? BUT things are changing in Rio, it is undergoing a transformation to appear as a modern city on the world stage, a form of plastic surgery for showboating purposes. And not the good kind of plastic surgery! However, the character and personality of the city and people is still strong, putting up a worthy fight.

The Sun rises for everybody

Unpacked, I slip into the ways of a carioca and head to the beach, the public living room. The beach doesn’t discriminate, people from all walks of life find their way to the beach. Although, having a well maintained body makes it easier, no sense of going into battle unequipped. The beach in Copacabana has peaked and is slowly fading, head for Ipanema beach between post number 9 and the big coconut tree (ask any local, they’ll know). Let the day take its course, a cold beer, a game of beach volleyball, some BBQ, açai juice, a few more cold beers and a nap. Travel between the different beach posts by bus aiming to finish close to the bay.

Sundowners are a tradition you will pick up quickly, so pace yourself. The Urca neighbourhood at the end of the bay is where to meet up for sundowners to have a drink and sample fried snacks. This is where Rio’s hospitality is showcased, invites for dinner and drinks are casually thrown around with little to no intension of fulfilment. A carioca, knows everyone and no one! As we share drinks and laughter with locals and tourists, we clap for the Sunset! It is a gift that needs to be appreciated however bad of a day you may have had.

“Apressado come cru… e quente”

(The one in a hurry, will have a raw and hot meal)

Mornings start bright and early in Rio, spurred by excitement to take it all in, with early morning workouts on the beach, a run on the boulevard and a quiet moment of reflection. The truth is that the heat makes it incredibly difficult to be productive after lunch, so the mornings are busy and condensed. Sitting at a churrascaria for lunch, not the dreadful all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouses they export but the real deal, you will notice that lunch is the meal of the day. I have been known to stretch it by hours, a far cry from the European 30 minute work lunches. Don’t rush, take it as is!

Rule #1: Ice Cold Beer

A short break from beach life, I head to Santa Theresa the most magical part of Rio. Situated up the mountain with cobblestone streets, artfully shabby houses and the fascinating ‘cool’ part of town. 100 years ago it was Rio’s Beverly Hills, now it’s decidedly bohemian on par with Williamsberg (NYC), Dalston (London) and Canal St. Martin (Paris) with less hipsters. This is my favourite part of the city, perhaps the only place to find genuine locals having after-work drinks. The bocacina or botecas are old fashioned pubs, a cross between a public house and a corner convenience store, are where to congregate. Sitting on the crowded small terrace tables sharing abnormally ice cold beer, Portuguese and Brazilian snacks you will find your level of Portuguese improving quickly. It is that easy to slip into life here. Really, why have you not moved here already?

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