Rio de Janeiro – The Welge Report

 

 

Hello Fellow Travelers:

 

Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines.  This newsletter provides you with The Welge Report for Rio de Janeiro .

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Recognition:  We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides.  In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.

 

Rio de Janeiro

 

Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)

Transportation:  (http://rio2016.com/en/rio-de-janeiro/transport) – Transportation in Rio includes: the Metro, Buses, Vans, Executive Buses, a Ferry Service, and Taxis.

Public transportation during the day is safe and inexpensive.  Taxis are plentiful.  Keep in mind that taxis have 2 rates – one for daytime (9 AM to 8 PM) and one for nighttime (8 PM to 9 AM).

Shopping: Surprise!  Beachware tops the list for shopping in Rio,  2nd is gemstones.  Here is some local information from our Cousin George.

“The Zona Sur (Southern Zone) is the home to Rio’s upper middle class and generally has the best shopping opportunities, especially in IpanemaIpanema also has a Sunday morning “hippie market” where you can buy amateur art (some of the naïfs are not bad) and the typical range of local crafts, especially in leather and carved wood.

There you can also buy the wide range of percussion instruments and whistles used in Bahian and traditional Brazilian music, also in samba.

For example, the cuica is a fricton drum which makes sounds akin to that of a squealing pig, or a hooting monkey.

 

Ipanema has a wide variety of boutique stores featuring local designers of bikinis, beachwear, and attractive tropical dress.

As for gemstones, the 2 major vendors are H.Stern and Amsterdam Saur, both headquartered in Ipanema, but with stores throughout the city.  H.Stern will pick you up at your hotel, or will reimburse you for taxi fare to their main store in Ipanema where you can take a short interesting tour of their gem cutting and gem museum.

As you finish the tour, you will exit onto an elegant and subtlely lit room with many cubicles, each manned by a beautiful or handsome Carioca (inhabitant of Rio).

You will be guided to a cubicle and offered refreshments (coffee, tea, soft drinks, caipirinhas) and given the hard sell.  You do not have to buy, and it’s fun to see and price the jewelry and stones.

It is advantageous to let your host know you are not buying upfront to avoid disappointments.  Ipanema also has many smaller jewelers, all thoroughly legitimate with smaller inventories, but perhaps better price/quality than the 2 big jewelry elephants.

There are several interesting stores, one near the Copacabana Palace hotel, that sell paraphernalia related to the local Brazilian religions – Condomble’ and Macumba, which are an amalgam of Christianity and African religions brought to Brazil by African slaves.

These include worship of saints, and other gods, such as Imanja’, the goddess of the sea.  The store items include statues of saints, and orishas, bead necklesses, the white dresses used by women in Condomble’ rituals and dances, spells, candles, and so on.

If you’re out at night in Brazil in the countryside or the city and you encounter lit candles accompanied by a bottle of cachaca, a box of matches, cigars, maybe a few banknotes or fruit, do not disturb this grouping.

It is an offering to one of the religious orishas.  Disturbing the offering may result in an unfortunate consequence - for you.”

A special word of caution from our Cousin George:  “You must never wear jewelry, either real or which can be mistaken for real or attractive watches if you plan to walk the streets either day or night. Carrying purses is not a good idea.

The slums, or favelas, often start no more than 4 or 5 streets inland from Avenida Atlantica which is the beach road in Copacabana.  The beach is entirely democratic and is frequented by favela dwellers, as well as affluent Brazilians.

Watch out especially for favela children, who snatch whatever they can and are gone in an instant.

 

Day One:  Our cousin suggests a visit to the beach in Ipanema. “It’s about 2 km long and is reputedly cleaner and whiter than Copacabana beach,although the latter is the most popular in terms of number of people.

The beaches are divided by postos, or posts, and certain people congregate at certain postos.

For example, posto 9 in Ipanema draws the young and beautiful crowd – that’s where to see the best looking girls.  Please note that while Brazilian women think nothing of wearing a bikini bottom that leaves the butt completely uncovered and looks like a postage stamp in front, there are no topless displays on the beach like in France and Europe – too much Catholicism and conservative modesty for that.

Posto 8 attracts the gay population in Ipanema – rainbow flags.  Posto 11 and 12 are young mothers with children, posto 10 is soccer and beach volleyball.  The beach at Ipanema became widely known by the song “The Girl from Ipanema” written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes.”

 

Lunch today is at a Rio favorite Siri Mole & Cia Praia – L: Tu-Su, D: Daily,  Avenida Atlântica, s/nº quiosque 55 21 2267-0894

Here you have Bahian cuisine.  We suggest the  Moqueca ( a fish stew with coconut milk and dende’ (palm) oil, or vatapa’, shrimp with coconut milk and breadcrumbs in a stew, go with the locals and wash down this wonderful local repast with a Anartica beer or two.

 

After lunch and our first beach visit the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes -  Tu-F: 10-6, Sa,Su: 12-5, 199 Av. Rio Branco, – Centro, 2219-8474

The MNBA is a great place to learn about Brazil and Rio de Janeiro’s past and how a part of their cultural heritage has played out from the Portuguese Court in the early 19th century up to present day.

The collection includes more than 20,000 pieces, among which are paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints by Brazilian and international artists, ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary art.  Other popular areas include Brazilian folk art and African art.

 

If you still have some energy we suggest a tour of Teatro Municapal - Five tours daily: Tu-F, Praca Marechal Floriano S/N – Centro  21 – 2332-9220

The Teatro is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Rio de Janeiro, the Municipal Theater is the main concert hall of Brazil and one of the most important in South America.

 

Dinner is at Porcao Ipanema – L & D: Daily, R. Barão da Torre, 218, 55 21 3202-9150

Often called the best churrascaria in Rio, waiters bring around skewers of meat cuts.  It has a salad bar with 25-30 different offerings included.

The hearts of palm are unbelievable – about the diameter of a 50 cent piece.

For this occasion we suggest having the caiparinha (cachaca, lime juice, sugar cane juice).  After all it’s the national driknk, but should you prefer a nice wine pairing we suggest the ‘04 Salton “Desejo” Red Blend.

 

Day Two:  Breakfast is at the Copacabana Palace Hotel – B,L,D: Daily, Av. Atlântica, 1702, 55 21 2548-7070

You can breakfast looking out on Avenida Atlantica and the beach beyond, or the Copacabana Palace pool.

One of its most interesting components is the variety of local Brazilian fruits offered, which may include jaca ( jack fruit), caju (the cashew apple), cajarana (sour-sweet and aromatic yellow mango look-alike), and the acerola (Brazilian cherry).

You’re here for the scene, but they have omelets and some wonderful Brazilian dishes to comfort your hunger.

 

After this indulgence head off to the Pao de Acucar– Daily: Cable cars run every half hour from 8 AM – 10 PM, Urca, Rio de Janeiro, 021/2546-8400

You’ll catch your cable car at a ground station located at the base of the Babilônia hill, to the Urca hill and then to the Pão de Açúcar.

The name “Sugarloaf” was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil.

 

It’s obligatory to visit the Trem do Corcovado – Daily: 8 AM to 7 PM; trains departing every thirty minutes, Rua Cosme Velho, 513, 55 21 2558- 1329

Christ the Redeemer is located on top of Corcovado’s Mount. The monument is the best-known Brazilian image, famous all over the world.

While you are in this area, take a little time to explore the Tijuca National Park.  The Tijuca Forest is home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened by extinction, found only in the Atlantic Rain forest.

The Forest contains a number of attractions, most notably the colossal sculpture of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain. Other attractions include the Cascatinha Waterfall.

The Mayrink Chapel with murals painted by Candido Portinari.

The light pagoda-style gazebo at Vista Chinesa outlook and the giant granite picnic table called the Mesa do Imperador. Among its impressive peaks is the Pedra da Gavea.

 

Lunch is at The Satyricon - L & D: Daily, Rue Barao da Torre 92, Ipanema, 2521 0627

 

You might enjoy the melon with prosciutto, the tuna salad or the calamari.

For your main they have a tagliolini pasta with lobster and mushrooms.  Their lamb chop comes with grilled papaya and the grilled filet mignon is a house specialty.

If the caipirinhas are too strong try the ‘06 Casa Valduga Premium Chardonnay.  Dessert is their chocolate mousse.

 

After lunch our cousin suggests a visit to Santa Teresa and Lapa.

To get there you must take a taxi because the famous little train called “bodinho” which ran from Rio downtown via Arcos da Lapa has been closed due to an accident

You’ll enjoy walking along the narrow streets and old houses, watching the artists at their work and enjoy the wonderful view on Rio.  In Lapa you can hear typical Brazilian music such as samba, forró, and choro.

 

Dinner is at Restaurante Aprazível  – L & D: Tu-Sa, 62 Rua Aprazível, Santa Teresa, 55 21 2508 9174

Choose among traditional dishes from northeastern Brazil: prawns grilled with saffron rice, fresh crab salads, and tropical fish sautéed in orange sauce, served with cashew-and-coconut rice and a roasted banana.

For a libation with lunch we recommend the Carambela, which combines sparkling wine, rum, star fruit, and mint.

Save room for one of the exotic ice creams whipped up from the cacaolike cupuaçu.  A good wine pairing is the ‘04 Casa Valduga Brut Premium Sparkling Wine or the ‘06 Salton Volpi Chardonnay.

 

Day Three:  Breakfast today at Confeitaria Colombo  - B & L: M-Sa, Rua Gonçalves Dias 32, Centro, 55-21-2505-1500

The waffles here are a legend. Pastries are stuffed with shrimp and chicken, and vegetarian dishes include spinach and ricotta quiche and heart-of-palm pie.

Their coffee is worthy, but the reason you’re here is the décor and the history.

 

Our cousin suggests visiting Copacabana beach, or “Cope” in the expatriate community jargon, the beach directly in front of the Copacabana Palace is frequented by tourists.

The Cope Palace has run underground water pipes onto the beach, where a shower is set up daily for the use of Cope Palace guests.

Chairs are set up and guests are guarded from the touts, sellers of pineapples, kites, photo takers, Kibon sellers (Kibon is the locally made ice cream bar manufacturer) by a couple of handsome Brasileiros working for the hotel.

They periodically offer the guests cold bottles of water from ice chests and icy watermelon.  They are also happy to apply sun lotion, especially to the women.

There is a rocky peninsula which seperates Copacabana beach from Ipanema beach, named Arpoador.  Fishermen sell fish at this point early in the morning, and it is popular with surfers.  After Ipanema beach is Leblon beach, which is the quietest of the beaches.

 

After some beach time our cousin suggests a visit to the Jardim Botanico 1008, 021-294-6012

Here you can see the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora. There are around 6,500 species (some endangered) distributed throughout an area of 54 hectares, and there are numerous greenhouses.

The Garden also houses monuments of historical, artistic and archaeological significance.

 

For your final meal in Rio on this journey we suggest the fun and eclectic  Zaza Bistro Tropical - Rua Joana Angelica 40, Ipanema

Start with the grilled octopus and squid with rice, broccoli, tomatoes and a lemon confit or the pork ribs with carrots and grits.

Next come the chicken curry with coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger, banana and vegetables or the grilled tuna with wabsabi, crispy kale and sesame mashed potatoes.

They have lots of interesting libations including pisco sours, margaritas and mojitos.

 

Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,

Dick & Dee  Welge 

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