FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Rio De Janeiro: The Rhythm Of Rio

Nov 1, 2006
2006 / November 2006


From breathtaking bays to magnificent mountains, Rio de Janeiro is intoxicating. Long considered one of the world’s most beautiful and alluring cities, Rio overwhelmed Portuguese settlers who arrived in the 16th century. Believing they were at the mouth of an immense river (it was actually Guanabara Bay), they named their settlement the River of January, honoring the month of their arrival.

A cultural and economic renaissance and a huge wave of privatization (telephone, electricity and gas) that began in the 1990s has created a flow of discerning European executives who demanded better restaurants and services. Nestled on the eastern coast of South America, Rio is now colorful and cosmopolitan, leaving a visitor only to ponder how to arrange a perfect day.

No matter how many times you’ve visited, start with an early walk along Ipanema Beach. Even at daybreak you’ll have lots of company. You could easily, happily spend your entire day at the beach, but Rio has much more to offer. For beauty of another sort, visit Tijuca Forest. Rio is the only city in the world with a forest in its midst. Jeep Tour (tel 55 21 2108 5800, www.jeeptour.com.br/ingles) offers an excellent tour of the region.

Alternatively, hire a taxi and cross the bridge to Niteroi, a suburb about 45 minutes from Copacabana and home to the Museu de Arte Contemporanea (tel 55 21 2620 2400, www.macvirtual.usp.br/mac/home.asp); a striking landmark noted for its Oscar Niemeyer architecture. Back in Rio, lunch overlooking the pool at the famed Copacabana Palace Hotel (Avda. Atlantica 1702, tel 55 21 2548 7070).

At the end of the day, go to Corcovado to watch the city lights begin to sparkle as the sun sets in glorious colors. Atop the mountain is the famed 125-foot-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer.

After sunset, it’s time to join the spirited locals for caipirinhas, a favorite local cocktail made from cachaca (fermented sugarcane juice), sugar and limes. Try one at Devassa (Rua Farme de Amoedo 52), close to the beach in Leblon. For dinner (never before 10:30 p.m.) reserve a table at Gero (Rua Anibal de Mendonca 157, tel 55 21 2239 8158), a wildly popular Italian restaurant in Ipanema. In Leblon, Antiquarius (Rua Aristides Espìnola 19, tel 55 21 2294 1049) serves sophisticated Portuguese-inspired dishes.

End your day with a ride downtown to the recently restored historic Lapa neighborhood — similar to Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in character and style. To hit the samba floor, head to Rio Scenarium (Rua do Lavradio 20, tel 55 21 2233 3239), a bar with live music, and stop nearby at Mangue Seco (Rua do Lavradio 23, tel 55 21 3852 1947). Rua do Lavradio — one of the city’s first residential areas and enclave to the poets, writers and artists who shaped the history of Rio — is home to Rio Scenarium. The unique venue morphed from an antique shop to a nightspot when the owners closed the shop at the end of the day and invited friends for a drink while musicians played. They never stopped. It’s still an antique shop during the day, but at night you’ll find everybody from business people to elderly ladies accompanied by their personal dancers (after all, it’s Rio).

By the time you leave, you’ll be forever changed by the rhythms of Rio.

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