The Selaron Steps (Escaderia Selaron) are colorful
tiled steps leading steeply up to Santa Teresa
Volleyball is popular, but even more popular is groups of three or four kicking
a mini soccer ball back and forth with incredible skill right next to the water
We've never seen water
lilies quite like this before
Where We Be
A beach day in Rio is an absolute must --
and iconic Ipanema is one of the best
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ipanema Beach is absolutely packed with locals on a typical
Sunday. It turns out there are many, many girls from Ipanema.
On Sundays the beach road closes so people
can walk, bike, and roller skate along it
We went swimming in the warm water, rode the waves,
and actually did think to ourselves, "This is the life!"
Arpoador is a small rocky peninsula between Ipanema and Copacabana
that's particularly famous for sunset watching. From atop Arpoador
we're looking down at a pocket beach, with Copacabana just beyond.
Christ the Redeemer is
visible from the gardens
If you have some extra time, Rio's Botanical
Garden makes for a worthwhile visit
The botanical garden makes
for a quiet escape from the city
As we walked from the Jardim Botanico to Lake Freitas, we came across this
wild building covered with climbing ivy -- and elaborate grafitti art at the bottom
Lake Freitas makes for another pleasant outing, especially
with its lakeside kiosks offering fine food and cold drinks
An artist named Selaron decided to add the colorful tiles to the stairs. Over
time the Selaron Steps have become famous and serve as a Rio landmark.
Many of the tiles are unique. We got a kick out of
these tiles honoring AC/DC and the Three Stooges.
Grafitti art seems to be accepted as a viable art form
in Rio and is particularly common in artsy Santa Teresa
Hilly Santa Teresa offers some lovely views down onto Rio. This overlook is
at Parque das Ruinas, a ruined Belle Epoque building from the early 1900s.
From Parque das Ruinas you can see this enormous
buillding poster honoring the 2016 Olympics in Rio
Parque das Ruinas has a somewhat haunted feeling now, augmented by ghostly pictures
of the former owner in the windows and wraith-like statues awaiting you here and there
We came across this life-size Nativity Scene in the Lapa District just below Santa Teresa. It features
a pregnant Mary still on the way to Bethlehem. The manger remains empty until Christmas Day.
We stayed at Casalegre B&B during our week in Rio and the owners couldn't have been more
welcoming or helpful when it came to planning our days. Our room was just off this breakfast area.
The Centro is Rio's busy commercial district as well as its historic center. It has some
fine historic buildings, like this Theatro Municipal, sprinkled in among the skyscrapers.
Confeitaria Colombo was our favorite stop on
our Centro tour. We loved its old-world feel.
Colombo's huge art nouveau interior with oval glass ceiling
makes for a memorable place to share a cup of coffee
We followed Lonely Planet’s walking
tour and hit a few of the major sights
The Imperial Palace (Paco Imperial) may not look like much but two Portuguese kings
lived here -- the only European kings to have been crowned in the New World
Jardim Botanico
Historic Center
Santa Teresa Neighborhood
Ipanema & Copacabana Beaches
Copacabana Beach is a bit more touristy, with an unbroken string of hotels
fronting a gorgeous curve of sand. This picture is taken from the edge of the
beach closest to Arpoador where local boats are pulled up onto the sand.
We were lucky enough to spend a week in Rio
and could easily have stayed longer. Yes, this
is a city even we can wrap our minds around.
Where else can you hang glide off the cliffs in
the morning and take a subway to the beach in
the afternoon? Just the names Ipanema and
Copacabana are enough to evoke sighs from
those who are snowbound or stuck in rush
hour traffic! Rio's natural setting is nothing
short of stunning: the big city surrounds but
never overwhelms the beaches and mountains.

We made the most of our week in Rio, strolling
its beaches, exploring local neighborhoods like
Santa Teresa and Urca, sipping coffee in the
Centro (historic center), and seeking out a few
of the city's quieter oases like the Botanic
Garden and Freitas Lake. Of course we also
visited Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf
Mountain -- what visit to Rio would be complete
without? But let's start with those sigh-inducing
beaches and stroll a few neighborhoods for
some hidden gems before we get to the rest.
We did something that's rare for us: spent a whole
afternoon just relaxing under an umbrella and swimming
Cristo Redentor the sand sculpture blesses the
beach umbrellas and the people beneath them
Sugarloaf Mountain is visible in the
distance behind Copacabana Beach
You can rent an umbrella and beach chairs
for the whole day for R$ 20 ($5 US) or less
The last tile at the
top of the stairs
This Crac is addictive and
goes quite well with Coke!
The highlight is the row of royal palms planted by
the Crown Prince of Portugal when he first arrived
The orchid room holds
some beauitful specimens