Some Notes from Brazil
Brazil is definitely a huge country with a wide range of things to see and do. I was in a few cities, and a few other cities I didn’t plan to go to. Some notes from traveling there.
Rio de Janeiro
I spent the most time in Rio. I did a day city tour and I think on that tour hit many of the most famous sites to see.
We went to the Christ the Redeemer statue which overlooks the city. It was a quite curvy road to get up there, and then another small hike, and when I went it was so, so so so hot.
Went to the Escaderia Selaron (Selaron Steps). This was a pretty solid tourist site. While it is 100% touristy and just full of people taking photos, I think it is a good spot to visit. There are about 2,000 tiles collected from all over the world that make up the colorful stairs.
And went up the two gondolas of Pao de Azucar (Sugar Loaf). The views on Sugar Loaf at sunset were probably the best.
There are two mountains that seem to jut out. You take a gondola from the ground to the first one. And then another gondola from the first mountain up to the second mountain.
- Visited the Rocinha favela on a tour. It’s pretty crazy to tour a favela, and I was glad I got to go. It is a really stark contrast to see, with small winding pathways going through the different houses. Is it an ok thing to do to visit the favela? The guide we had was very friendly with many of the people who lived there, chatting with many of the adults and kids as we walked by, we stopped at several shops and also people selling hand made items and souvenirs, and a small dance show. Now is this good or bad for the community? I imagine there are very mixed views here, both on the internet and from within the town, though I don’t know. I think getting to see for yourself instead of creating some illusion of what it is and therefore having fear is positive. I think it could bring in visitors in a positive way if they are respectful, I ended up buying a few things. The guide we had seemed very aware and respectful and tried to give insight into what was ok and not ok to do. I felt most of the people on my tour themselves were respectful and not trying to call extra attention (there were a couple who I don’t think were…). But if you google this topic it definitely inspires debate. I had also visited the Comuna 13 in Medellin, and there it did seem it was both more developed, as they had several public transportation connections and a gondola, and more embraced, as there was a hip hop show with a huge crowd, and also several stores and bars.
What else in Rio? I stayed in Ipanema for most of the time and then also Copacabana. The beaches were nice, and quite busy, but much more busy on the weekends. It was nice to rent a chair, umbrella, maybe get a drink and either swim and read a book.
I took a tour to Ilha Granda and Angra dos Reis as well, this was very nice but also maybe the option I picked of this boat tour was a bit too touristy. We made several stops at different beaches or islands and had 30–45 minutes there and then continued.
I wasn’t planning to go to Paraty or Ubatuba, but after going to Ihla Grande, I took a bus there. It’s a really nice spot and worth returning to. It’s a small town, with cobblestone roads, a canal, and right on the beach. It’s also near a number of other good outdoor sites.
I went to the Toboggan waterfall and Tarzan Pit, maybe a 20 minute bus ride away. There was a really nice waterfall, and then very smooth rock with only a thin layer of water, and you could slide town it. So it was like a waterfall rock slide. You could slide down it sitting or laying down, and then a few guys who seemed to live there would go down standing up (which seemed insane to me).
Ubatuba has I think around 90 beaches nearby and is another city between Rio and Sao Paolo. I went to Felix and Itamambuca beach… it was quite tricky to get between them. While I could get an Uber there, there were a few buses back but it wasn’t quite clear where they went or when they arrived… so that took a while.
I wasn’t here for long but I did tour the Avenida Paulista on a weekend — seems the whole road is shut down and there are many people walking on it, biking, and now scootering too.