Oh what a view! I finally ascended the Christ Redeemer. You can see all of Rio, the mountains, beautiful beaches, the surrounding lake with fifteen million dollar condominiums and Maracana stadium – home of the World Cup final.
I started doing some of the typical “tourist activities.” Rio has been so exciting with the football matches and the Fan Fest zone along Copacabana beach that I hardly needed to investigate other aspects of the city. One of my favourite things to do is rent a bike ($7CDN first hour $2.50 each additional hour) and ride through the neighbourhoods and the fantastic paths along dozens of kilometers of beachfront.
It reminds me of Vancouver with an extended shoreline and tons of sport opportunities along the way. You can play everything. There is an abundance of small-sided football fields, basketball courts, volleyball and exercise stations. Brazilians know how to have fun.
The best part is that you can indulge in a coconut cracked open for you along the way. And if that sounds like too much work, stop and drink the famous caipirinhas and relax on the beach. It is their national beverage and is available everywhere.
Between games, I also had the chance to visit one of the favelas close to Leblon beach. There are tours for $69 but I just hopped in a local van for $1.25 and rode through the town. At the top, I met a group and we hiked into the mountain and discovered another spectacular view of Rio. There were monkey’s that reminded me of squirrels along the trail. On the way down, we just sauntered, took photos and talked to locals. I loved seeing two sport facilities where children were emulating their favourite Brazilian stars.
We also hopped on a bus one day and went out of the city two and a half hours (175km) to a place called Buzios. It was originally a slave trading port in the 1600’s but apparently Bridget Bardot visited there in the 60’s. When news spread about her most beloved destination an entire town was developed around this stunning location.
You can take short ferries or water taxis to different islands and thirteen remote beaches. If you love shopping, there are so many nice boutiques, cafes and romantic restaurants. We only stayed one day, but we didn’t want to leave. Plan to take more time if you can. It is wonderful!
Back in Rio, there are many other attractions. Lapa has a fun nightlife with Brazilian music filling the air along a block of outdoor restaurants and bars. I’ve heard it’s the place to go see the sunrise, many fans have have returned home at the break of dawn.
There are so many things to do but my favourite has been strolling along Copacabana beach with all the football fans. This is where the action is.
There is drumming, dancing, artistans and a delirious buzz that has put a spell on all of us. The water is fantastic. Football games and groups of jugglers are everywhere. It is just the place to be. During matches, the Fan Fest has a giant screen to view the game and there is also a separate party going on over the fence where the match is still visible. You can drink and eat local foods, rent beach chairs and plunge into the ocean between halves.
I recommend hopping on a flight as soon as possible and being a part of this epic World Cup. Better yet, the Olympic games will also be in Rio in 2016. Brazil is an exceptional destination worth adding to your bucket list.
Thank you so much to Flight Centre for sponsoring my trip and giving me the opportunity to write for the Vancouver Sun and Canada.com. I will remember the 2014 World Cup for a lifetime.