Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Rio de Janeiro

Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:02am EDT
 
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By Stuart Grudgings

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters Life!) - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's capital of samba and Carnival, is a city forever defined in people's imagination by its miles of golden beach that on weekends draw millions of sun-worshippers.

But there is much more to Brazil's second city, which is gradually shaking off a reputation for crime and decadence as it surfs an economic boom and prepares to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games in the next six years.

Local correspondents help you get the most out of a stay in Brazil's former capital which was also once the capital of the Portuguese empire.

FRIDAY

5 p.m. - Walk the promenade along Ipanema beach and admire the sunset as Cariocas, as Rio residents are known, wind up another day of sunbathing, beach volleyball and beer-drinking on one of the world's most spectacular city beaches. Quench your thirst with a fresh coconut or a caipirinha from a stall on the walkway or from one of the vendors on the beach.

10 p.m. - Take a taxi or bus to nightlife district Lapa and get a table at Nova Capela, a Rio institution founded in 1923 whose white-jacketed waiters will serve you some of the best bolinhos de bacalhao (cod balls), javali (wild boar) and cabrito (goat) in the city.

12 a.m. - Soak up the buzz around Lapa's famous white arches as revelers gather to drink cheap beer at outside stalls and people-watch to the beat of samba.

1 a.m. - Head to one of Lapa's atmospheric samba clubs to try your hand at the dance that defines Rio's spirit or just watch Cariocas of all ages come together to dance and sing along with the lyrics of old favorites. Some great clubs in Lapa include the eclectically furnished Rio Scenarium (www.rioscenarium.com.br/), Democraticus, and Carioca da Gema (here)   Continued...

 
<p>A man jumps into the waters of Leme beach in Rio de Janeiro February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes</p>