Tanning, eating, and dancing In Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro is a giant party. With warm weather almost all year long, during the day the beaches are packed and at night you had better be ready to dance. Though the popular areas are incredibly fun and safe if you’re careful, Rio has a tremendous socioeconomic divide that is illustrated by the favelas resting on top of the hills. However, if you stick to the central locales, you’re bound to have a great time.
Just like the song, The Girl from Ipanema, most of the girls on the beach are “tall and tan and young and lovely.” To fit in, make sure you get a Brazilian swimsuit, which are much more revealing than typical American bikinis. Otherwise, try joining a beach volleyball or soccer game if your skills are up to par.
The three main beaches in Rio are Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. All three are exactly like what you imagine a beach paradise to be. People will come up to you on the beach selling coconuts, ice cream, jewelry, sarongs (kangas) and more. Make sure you get a coco with a straw in it for just a few reais (Brazil’s currency). Copacabana is the most popular and is full of young people and locals. It is the most beautiful to walk along and the walk will lead you to the old military base, Forte de Copacabana. If you walk in the opposite direction to Ipanema, you’ll find many different sports being played in the sand. Finally, Leblon is usually a bit less crowded but just as beautiful as the others. A perfect afternoon in Rio consists of sunscreen, a good book, a coconut, a sarong to lie on, and a view of the surfers. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head up to Corcovado (the mountain with the giant Christ statue) or Sugarloaf Mountain for breathtaking views of the entire city.
For dinner, you can’t miss out on the churrascarias. You usually pay a cover to get in and enjoy all you can eat. You’ll be given a card that says something like stop on one side and go on the other. When your card is flipped to go, you get as much meat as you want until you flip it back over. Servers will come around with slabs of almost every kind of meat to shave onto your plate if you so desire. Some restaurants like the well-known Porcão can be quite pricey, but the city is full of them so you’ll have no trouble finding one to fit your budget and appetite. Vegetarians stay away.
After dinner, head down to Lapa – the bohemian area – that is always full of locals, drinks, music and dancing. Though you’ll never be able to perfect your samba if you weren’t born dancing it like the Brazilians, many will be happy to help you try. Check out a list of the best places to dance the night away. With the World Cup coming to Brazil in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 the city is going to be livelier than ever… I didn’t think it was possible.