Rio, I Love You

Rio, cidade maravilhosa as locals call it, the wonderful place where I left my heart. 
The city is definitely marvelous, the place that forces your heart beat stronger, the mountains surrounding the city, blue waters of the ocean and golden beaches all over … how is possible to stay indifferently? No way! Especially when you see all the good and bad parts of it, the luxury neighborhoods, historical places, crazy downtown or favelas.
I was one of that happy ones, who had luck to be here, to walk on the streets of this city, to feel the breeze of the ocean, to admire with sunset over it, to live happy days…

 

I already shared with you my experience in this incredible country in one of my previous posts. Now I will try to give you some more information about the city of Rio de Janeiro, some general aspects and from personal experience.

The view from Corcovado mt.
In fact the city is separated into 4 parts: the North Zone (Zona Norte), the South Zone (Zona Sul), the West Zone (Zona Oeste) and Downtown area (centro).  
 
If you want to get in touch with historical part of the city, then you should go to the Downtown. This is the financial and commercial center of the city. But also all the historic and cultural buildings are located here, churches, museums, etc. One of the cultural centers here is Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, This is an art-deco building with huge hall and beautiful dome. Each floor has several galleries with permanent and temporary exhibitions. The cultural center is always full of people and is considers as one of the 100 most visited museums in the world. Definitely worth to visit.

 

Cultural Center of Brazil in Rio
The less touristic zone is the North Zone, as here are mostly usual neighborhoods. The only exceptions are the Tijuca forest, Maracana stadium and the Salgueiro Samba school. But here is also a small hidden gem for gourmands. If you want to have a nice dinner with tasty food and if you are a fan of crepes, then this place is just for you, the Creperia Lieto. The best crepes that I’ve ever tried were here. But in this small cozy place you will have not only crepes, but some other dishes as well as unique desserts.
There is also nothing much to see for tourists in West Zone, which covers Barra da Tijuca area (or as locals call – just Barra), unless you don’t want to see the American suburbs with large avenues, amazing beaches. This is totally different part of the Rio, not similar to other Zones, but still a paradise with lots of private districts, high rise buildings and shopping malls. There are 2 big lagoons in Barra, where sometimes you even can see crocodiles. Because of this one of the lagoons is called Lagoa de Jacarepaguá (jacare means crocodile). But this area is also well known for its big wave beaches, so all the surfers come here to catch the waves.

And here we are in the South Zone, the most touristic area of the famous city. Dozens of mountains and hills, the lagoon (Lagoa) and incredible beaches, these are all located here. The area includes all the beautiful places of the city, famous beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, the Sugar Loaf mountain and probably the most visited Corcovado mt, with statue of Christ the Redeemer, and still much more that you will see.

Botafogo beach, view to Sugar Loaf
The inseparable part of this beauty are also the favelas, poor neighborhoods that are almost everywhere. These are small houses, if you can call them “houses”, that are built one on each other. Usually it’s not safe to go inside these favelas, but there are some tour agencies, that organize group tours to one of the favelas, to show how they are built, how people live there and what kind of dangers you may meet if you go alone.. So be aware of where to go. 
But what I loved in Rio were the sunsets.. Actually I always loved them, and still love. But the sunsets I lived in state of RJ were incredible. The most unforgettable ones. The sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, in Cabo Frio, when the sun was going down, right inside the water, making them shine in burning red colors. But even if you will stay in the city, you will love the sunsets there, being near the beach or on the streets, the sunset will always admire you with its beauty, with flying clouds on the sky hugged with the last rays of the warm sun. Amazing..
 
The road from Niterói to Rio
What about the cuisine? Well, here you may find any kind of food for any taste. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants with continental food. In every shopping center you will have big food court areas, where you can have all that comes on your mind, would it be Italian pizza (very tasty by the way) or seafood or national food of Brazil. Most famous national dishes are Feijoada (stew of black beans with beef and pork), Bolo de Bacalhau (codfish balls), Farofa (mainly served with rice or feijoada), pão de queijo (cheese balls). And the most favorite desserts here are Brigadeiro, Açaí (which is also an energetic source) and of course all kinds of ice-creams… the most tasty ones! Considering the hot climate of this area you will enjoy the refreshing drinks and cold popsicles with exotic flavors.  
Oh.. how I miss this place, every corner of it, every second spent there, every person met, every feeling lived it this paradise. This place will always stay in my heart. I wish I could have another day in paradise. But even if I’ll never come back, part of my heart and my soul will always stay there, forever. 
Rio, I love you..

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