Avenida AtlΓ’ntica - Copacabana, RJ, 22041-360, Brazil

10:00am Breakfast: Erika made “tortillas” in a pan out of dry tapioca. On it, we had scrambled eggs and guacamole. The texture was interesting! The tapioca didn’t have a distinct flavor.

Cocos on Copacabana beach on day 1

We went out on our own for a stroll on Copacabana beach.

We stopped for a late lunch and cappuccinos. Nate had another tapioca thing, this time with ham and cheese.

It started pouring down rain, so we had to stop again and order some tropical juice until the rain stopped. The left is mostly papaya. The right is beet and carrot.

Sand castle

You’re not supposed to flush toilet paper here because the plumbing isn’t good enough to handle it. It goes in a trash can next to the toilet. Now we hate pooping.

Eating our way through Rio. The food here is so cheap!

Eating an obscene amount of high quality sushi at ridiculously low prices.

Traditional açaí with tropical fruits mixed in. Delicious tangy sugar bombs.

Another rainy day so we went to the mall.

The ceilings are very low!

A foggy view of Sugar Loaf Mountain from the car on our way to pick up David at the consulate office

Today we went to central Rio to meet David for lunch near the U.S. Consulate. We had an amazing prix-fixe three-course lunch at a place called Lilia.

We browsed some antique shops in the Lapa neighborhood. It was an older, kinda dirty but interesting part of town. Picture of me and Erika in Lapa. You can see the steeple of Catedral Metropolitana in the background.

Nate and I in downtown “centro” Rio. It’s a rainy foggy day but there’s mountains in the background behind the buildings. Pretty view.

Cathedral San Sebastián. Very interesting architecture for a cathedral! It’s been visited and blessed by 2 popes. \240The “steeple” part is separate from the conical building! (Also, Erika’s sister lives and works in the Vatican. Her wedding was officiated by the current pope a few months ago!!)

View from the inside of Cathedral Metropolitana de San Sebastián. The stained glass is even more spectacular on sunny days.

Me in the gift shop, catching Nate trying to do an action shot. I thought Granma would like a postcard from a weird looking cathedral.

We ate at a Churrascaria called Assador. It was SO GOOD. And probably cost 70% less than Fogo De Chao in the states.

At this point, we’re already struggling to put back the food they keep bringing to our table.

Nate’s plate is only clean because they kept switching them out for fresh ones. He probably ate half a cow. It was overwhelming how attentive the servers were!

When we got home, miraculously, we still had a little room for some açaí. Delivery is cheap, so we ordered in. Austin LOVES açaí and sits nicely in hopes to clean out the cups. (It worked.)

It was rainy and foggy again, so we had a slow easygoing day. We went to the grocery store, sampled Starbucks (first café we came across) by people watching on the patio, and then did some laundry back at the apartment. We’re saving the big sights for a non foggy day when we can actually enjoy the views from the top of the mountain.

This is the sitting area in the apartment overlooking Copacabana beach where we have our coffee.

We ventured out for some more juice and lunch. I had the curry chicken and pineapple crepe. Nate had ham and cheese.

Last night we experienced the nightlife in the famous Lapa neighborhood. We started out at a pizza joint with oven fired artisanal pizzas.

Drinks at the boteco next door while we wait for a table to open up at the pizza place.

Busy street cafés. Tiny tables!

Friday night: Lapa has a famous nightlife scene, similar to Austin’s 6th Street or NOLA’s Bourbon Street.

It looks completely different at night.

The arches in the background are a famous landmark.

Waiting in line for some fresh caipirinhas.

They guys mix everything up in a Tupperware container and shake it vigorously by hand..

They were characters. It’s the most popular stall. People wait in long lines for this one \240even though some of the other stalls had no wait.

The famous tile staircase was a busy place and beautiful at night.

There’s stuff about the presidential election everywhere. It’s an interesting time to be here.

Gisele Bundchen is everywhere!

This was interesting! People here eat Halls cough drops like candy. They love them. Every street vendor had a wide selection of flavors.

A random drum line keeps the party going.

I think this bar’s name translated to “corner of democracy.”

Some pretty powerful art about favela life. “Living in a favela is an art. Nobody robs. Nobody hears. Nothing is lost. Those who are wise obey those who give orders.”

Once it started raining, the stairs cleared out and it was easier to get a good picture.

While we were in the area, David and Erika wanted to check out a possible wedding venue so we tagged along. It was beautiful!

Views from the venue

Still in Santa Teresa, after we finished visiting the venue, we went to see Parque das Ruinas.

Sugar Loaf Mountain out in the distance

I got those yellow earrings in a craft market that supports the economy of Amazonian tribes by selling their creations.

There’s Christ the Redeemer off in the distance.

On Saturday, we drove to the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood for some traditional feijoada, which is usually a weekend meal. Like brunch, but nothing at all like brunch.

On the drive, we noticed some police, who apparently are so crowded in their car that that have to point their weapons out the windows. So I had a loaded Brazilian police gun pointed at me today (look at the rear passenger window).. No big deal.

Santa Teresa neighborhood and the famous little cable car

Santa Teresa neighborhood. Finally some good weather!

Bar do Mineiro for some of the best feijoada in town.

Brunch is served, family style

All dished up. Looks like a gumbo, but doesn’t taste like it. Beef and pork stew is really the only way to describe it. You’d think it would be a cold weather dish, but nope!

Sunday morning: We visited the street market to buy some fruits and eat pasteis at the food truck. Lots of interesting stuff. We didn’t know what a lot of it was.

This is what a cashew fruit looks like! That grey blob at the top is a cashew nut.

Amazonian medicine

I dared Nate to try some peppers but no luck. Spicy food isn’t really part of the Brazilian food culture in general.

My cheese pastel and some sugar cane juice. They make everything fresh in front of you.

Sunday afternoon: we visited Sugar Loaf Mountain, one of the main tourist attractions in Rio. It’s been in the background of many of our previous photos. You take cable cars to the top for panoramic views of the city.

There’s a stop halfway up, the first of the two peaks. It was windy!

Ignore the helipad right behind us

More views of Christ the Redeemer statue. We’re glad it was clear enough to see it.

Headed to the highest peak

From the top

You can see where our first stop was. That’s Copacabana Beach on the left.

SO windy. Luckily I was wearing anti-chafing shorts under that dress. (TMI?)

Once we were back on the ground, we did some exploring in the area.

Praia Vermelha (hope i spelled that right. Too tired to check right now.)

Our guidebook says the Urca neighborhood is a nice under appreciated walk, so we explored since we were nearby. We stopped at a restaurant called Bar Urca. This was our view out the window.

I had two Caipirinhas, which as it turns out, is one too many. After this I needed a good nap. We took an Uber back to the apartment and watched the results of Brazil’s presidential election.

There was immediately lots of honking and fireworks in the streets. It was a divisive election. We stayed away from the mayhem, but ventured out for some açaí after things seemed to calm down.

I’m falling behind! Monday was a casual beach day in Ipanema. The weather didn’t cooperate, but it felt wrong to go to Rio and not spend a day on the beach.

On the way, we saw some monkeys! There’s babies on the mama’s back. Our friends said it’s not common to see monkeys in urban Rio so we felt very lucky!

Can you see them on the wire?

Nate and David tossed a football on the beach. You can see a cliffside favela in the background.

Instead of towels, the locals use “cangas.” It packs up smaller and lighter than a towel, but it’s bigger and does the job perfectly. I had to have one!

Monday: we finally got enough sun to visit the Christ the Redeemer monument. Since the views are a big part of the appeal, we wanted to make sure the sky was clear enough to see long distance.

Park de Tijuca is a large (the largest?) urban rainforest. It was absolutely gorgrous.

Corcovado is the name of the hill where Christ the Redeemer (i.e. Christo Redentor) sits.

We were not disappointed!

It was really crowded so getting a picture without other people in it was impossible!

We were literally in the clouds. It’s hard to tell in the pics but you can see the fogginess over the statue’s face keeps changing.

We had smoothies at the mountaintop restaurant (seriously, there are $4 tropical fruit smoothies “suco” everywhere).

As we were getting ready to go back down, we noticed everyone staring at the trees. There was a sloth!!!

It was fun to watch it for awhile. Then we headed back down the mountain in a tour van.

Final day in Rio and AT LAST we got the weather we had signed up for! Our flight leaves at 8:45pm, so we had time to hang out on Copacabana beach this morning.

There are so many people selling their wares on the beach. They’ll bring anything right to you. It was like being at an all-inclusive resort, but better and muuuuch cheaper! We happily contributed to the local beach economy.

We had grilled cheese on a stick (kinda like string cheese, but bigger), sausages, corn, lots of coconut water, fresh whole shrimp on skewers, and an amazing watermelon caipirinha.

The little portable grill where our cheese is cooking. Then they dunk it in a bag of dried oregano and hand it over.

Good thing I didn’t find out how delicious watermelon caipirinhas are until the last day.

Shrimp skewerers.

On our way to the airport in an Uber now. It takes awhile.

Brighter view.

There’s also a ton of snack purveyors if you get hungry in traffic. It boggles the mind that they can coexist with the motorcycles.