Rio de Janiero & Sao Paulo (again) 6.24.17

Bunk beds, roommates, earplugs, shared bathrooms, cold showers, shower flip-flops, meals at restaurants, no schedule, lockers, new people, new sights, new languages – these realities are some of the joys of travel. Every moment is an adventure! These same joys are also tiring.

From Belo Horizonte, I originally planned to visit cities further north in Brazil. Weather forecasts predicting heavy rain for these parts of the country, time limitations, flight costs and, most critical of all, my level of energy, led me to change my plans. I decided to return to Rio de Janeiro (Rio) and Sao Paulo (SP) instead of visiting new places. After more than 9 months of continuous travel, tiredness had set-in. I was ready to choose the easy option.

Checking in with myself, listening to my feelings, and practicing self-care are skills I have continued to develop to remain happy in a changing environment far from family, friends, and routine. Instead of feeling frustrated by choosing to reduce my travel schedule, I accepted my feelings of tiredness. I was happy to give myself a break by returning to Rio and SP, two cities where, serendipitously, friends from my pre-travel life live.

A family friend, Greg, lives in Rio. Marco, my friend living in SP, and I met when I studied abroad in Chile 10 years ago. Eating meals in the company of people I had known for more than a few days, returning to cities I was generally familiar with, spending more time reading at cafes rather than exploring sights, and laughing a lot became my routine during my last 8 days in Brazil. It was glorious!


The rainy weather forecasted for further north in Brazil was also in Rio. On this rainy day I visited the Museum of Tomorrow, an interactive science museum focused on climate change and humans’ relationship with earth. This state-of-the-art facility and its world class exhibits opened prior to the Olympics.
Exhibits in the Museum of Tomorrow relied on light, digital display boards and shapes to teach viewers. Although I visited on a week day, the museum was crowded. The wait was close to one hour to enter the main gallery.
Rain or shine it is possible to enjoy the boardwalks at Ipanema and Leblon beaches. Most days in Rio I walked at least once along the ocean front, making sure to stop, smile and appreciate life.
There is an art fair on Sundays in the General Osorio plaza, the last plaza in Ipanema before reaching the Copacabana neighborhood. TripAdvisor calls the art fair a Feria Hippie. One of my few souvenirs from this year of travel is a painting I bought at the fair and am carrying until I reach Minnesota.
From Plaza General Osorio I walked a few blocks to the Cantagalo comunidade, a pacified favela on the hillside. The local government built an elevator to transport residents at no charge up the hillside to their homes. It is also free for tourists to ride the elevator and see views of the city.
The Santa Theresa neighborhood is near the city center of Rio. It is a bohemian neighborhood I explored when I visited Rio 3 years ago. The Santa Theresa tram is used by neighborhood residents to travel from the city center to their homes. Originally built in the 1800s, this tram is now a popular tourist attraction that was closed for repairs when I visited Rio in 2014.
Sights along the tram ride include street art and views of the city. The Rio de Janeiro Cathedral was built in the 1960s and 1970s and the style is reminiscent of Mayan pyramids.
One last day at the beach and a boardwalk stroll before leaving Rio. The sidewalks throughout the city have modern designs created from small black and white stone. They are a work of art and, after seeing crews of workers in action, also labor intensive to install and maintain.
Busses depart every 10 minutes to make the 6 hour journey from Rio to SP. I arrived in early evening and relied on the metro system to reach the city’s central business district. There are a number of visually interesting buildings in this part of the city, including the Teatro Santander.
To be in Marco’s neighborhood and to take a break from hostel life, I stayed in an AirB&B with host Laura. I sat in her hammock enjoying city views, exercised in a nearby park, and laughed at her needlepointed artwork that says, “Women is the fragile sex, you ass.”
I walked around the upper-class Jardins neighborhood in SP and was delighted to see a street named after me – Sarita. According to an April 2017 NYT article, homes in this neighborhood sell for more than $1 million USD.


From Jardins I continued my walk to reach the city’s largest park, Ibirapuera. For perspective on the size of this city, reaching this park would have taken about 50 minutes via public transit from the hostel nearer to the city center where I stayed on my first visit to this city. From Laura’s home, it was a 3km walk to the park.
Within Ibirapuera Park there are structures, monuments and cultural sights including the Afro-Brazilian Museum. The main reason I wanted to visit cities further north in Brazil was to experience the influence of the African culture, which is strongest in those areas. Given my decision not to travel north, I was especially interested in exploring this museum, “dedicated to representing the African perspective in the formation of identity and culture on Brazilian history, art, and society” (Wikipedia).
Marco!! In SP I spent time with Marco, his partner Gloria, and Gloria’s parents who were visiting from Nicaragua. Marco and Gloria moved from Chile to SP for Gloria’s work and currently live in the business area of the city. Multinational companies have offices in the skyscrapers on Faria Lima Avenue.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Woessner says:

    Rio looks like an amazing city, even in the rain! And what a contrast, much of this blog is, from the sunny beach photos of late to many of the gray skies in this posting. Love the Hippie Art Fair and the piece you bought. Stop, smile and appreciate life – I remember you talking about it in previous posts; I like it – not a bad motto for all of us, every day, wherever we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rio is an amazing city! And, there was a decent amount to do with the rain. Yes, to see grey skies was a change. My skin was likely grateful 😉 Yes, it is an excellent motto to stop, smile, and appreciate. Thanks for the thoughts.


  2. Kat says:

    It is so okay to say you are weary and return to a familiar place! This reminds me of the end of our Italian vacation. When we got to Naples we literally did one thing each day, napped and ate pizza. No shame! You have earned some rest. When you get back to MN, I have decided we need to gather at Crisp and Green to workshop. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love to know you’ve had a similar experience. And, if I were to pick any activity in Italy, I think pizza (and wine too) would be very very high on the list.

      I used the google to learn about Crisp and Green. YES! That place is exactly what I have been eating, will continue to eat, crave, and enjoy. Good luck with the move first though!


  3. Ian says:

    Hello, your blog is amazing gave me a few pointers, I’ll be going in both Rio and Sao Paolo in March, but for Rio can you recommend the best but safest place to stay I’m edging for Sao Conrado but I don’t want it to be too quiet, how is Copacabana and Ipanema.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ian! I’m so excited for your trip. You’ll have a wonderful visit. Thanks too for reading the blog and I appreciate your compliments. By far, the safest neighborhood to stay in in Rio is Leblon. I’d put Ipanema at #2. There are a number of good hostels in the area. Both Lemon Spirit and Ipanema Beach Club I can recommend. On an earlier trip to Rio I stayed in Lapa, I didn’t have any problems although that area is not considered to be as safe. If you can, time your visit to Rio for a Thur – Tue. Then you can go to Gavea for street party on Thur, Lapa for street party on Friday, and Pedro de Sal for street party on Monday. It won’t be quiet if you seek out these places! Have fun.

      Liked by 1 person

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