Our first few days in Brasil were spent wandering around Copacabana, Ipanema, and the surrounding areas. We took the bus from the international airport to Copacabana. Our bus driver was very friendly and he let us know when we needed to get off the bus. After getting off the bus, we stopped at the first corner bar/fruit stand to get an acai and a fresh coconut. They were both delicious and I was amazed at the variety of fresh juices and fruits.
After checking into our hostel, we headed out to the beach. It was a little overcast and while we were checking out a local market it started raining pretty hard. We took refuge under a tarp by one of the vendors and we saw that everyone was eating some sort of white food product. It turned out to be tapioca with coconut and condensed milk and I naturally had to try some (it was delicious). After the rain subsided, we made a dinner out of various street foods like sweet corn, pizza, and cheese breads.
On day two we headed up to see Christ the Redeemer. We arrived around 10 and we had to wait until about 12:45 to take the train up. When we got to the top it was very crowded and windy. We took a few pictures of Christo and the city and then headed back down. It would have been better to go earlier to avoid the crowds and the waiting because they made the experience difficult to enjoy. After the visit to Christo, we headed down to Leblon for dinner at Sushi Leblon. Dinner was followed by desert at a little cafe down the street that had the most amazing chocolate mousse cake and hot chocolate that I have ever tasted.
Day three started off a little overcast so we took a bus to the New York City Center. It has a mini statue of liberty and a big shopping mall that is just like a U.S. mall except more expensive. I was seriously shocked at clothes prices and even the food court was way too expensive. The bus back from the mall dropped us off somewhat within walking distance of the Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) so we decided to check it out. It ended up being a much more pleasant experience than the visit to the Christ statue. It wasn’t as crowded, the view of the city was great, and there were really cool trails through bamboo and trees on top of the Sugar Loaf.
In the evening, we ate a dinner of pizza, various cheese breads, and chow mein noodles at one of the street cafes. It was delicious and cheap and we had a great time watching what other people were ordering. Almost everyone ordered a crispy, rectangular cheese pocket thing. We were too full to order one that night, but we did get one a few days later and it was incredibly tasty.
The next day we took the Costa Verde bus south to Ilha Grande. Stay tuned for the story of our travels on the island, and while you are waiting you can enjoy a few more pictures of Rio.