The beaches, Santa Teresa, and Maracana

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
Looking toward Leblon on Ipanema Beach
Definitely my best day in Rio.  With only one day left, I still had a lot of stuff I needed to see.  I started in Ipanema Beach, one block from the hotel.   It's world famous, and so much has already been written about it, there's no point in going on in a blog.  Let's just say it looks exactly like you think it does.  No surprises.

What was a nice surprise was Flamengo beach, facing the harbor rather than the ocean.  It's shape is a half moon, reminding me vaguely of San Sebastian in Spain.  The beach also has Parque Flamengo between it and the road.  So there are tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer pitches, and all sorts of activities surrounding the beach.
View of Sugarloaf from Flamengo Beach
  It was maybe the liveliest place I went to in Rio.  I saw a wide diversity of people coming and going. So it gave me the feeling that this was a very mixed crowd of true Cariocas, and very few tourists.  It was a stark contrast from Ipanema Beach even though they aren't that far apart.  There were countless vendors selling food and drinks there.  I had a fresh coconut on the beach and watched the people go by.

The next place I saw was Sugarloaf.  It's named as such because it looks literally like a loaf of bread coming out of the water.  I took a gondola ride up the mountain and enjoyed the 360 degree views from the top.  Even more than on Corcovado, Sugerloaf gives you a full picture of how Rio is laid out.  Far in the distance you can see the Redeemer looking straight at you, with much of the city in between.


I walked toward the city center from Sugarloaf happening on an outdoor market in Gloria.  Markets usually give you a good idea of how real people shop, and I was pleased to find a very mixed crowd buying fresh meats and produce.  Rio is a more integrated city than I thought it would be.  I think I had an idea of it being a place of haves and have nots, which it is.  But I didn't expect to see people from all walks of life mingling in the same places in the city.  So it was a nice surprise. 

The market made me work up quite an appetite, so I had lunch at a local restaurant in Gloria.  The waitress spoke no English and didn't understand my feeble attempts to turn Spanish into Portuguese.  But she was the most helpful person I met in the restaurant.
The Bund
  She explained to me what specials they had in the few words we did have in common.  I ended up enjoying one of the better meals I've had for about $5.  When I asked her for directions she even found a waiter that spoke a few words in Spanish to explain it to me.

From there I walked up the hill into the old neighborhood called Santa Teresa.  This part of town has become quite a tourist attraction and several artists and boutiques have moved in.  It also has a cable car (Bund) similar to those in San Francisco.  It occurred to me that I have yet ridden a cable car in San Francisco, but I found myself needing it in Santa Teresa.  This neighborhood was where my Lonely Planet guidebook and I parted ways.  The book went out of its way to warn me about not going there alone, as thieves would literally appear out of nowhere to rob me.
Another colonial home in Santa Teresa
  Well, all I know is that there were very nice, restored homes in Santa Teresa, some which had swimming pools.  Beyond that, there were people absolutely everywhere.  Honestly, I felt safer than I did in any other part of Rio.  I enjoyed the curvy streets, and the faded colonial architecture.  I poked my head into a few art galleries before moving on.  One thing the book did not tell me was how to actually get out of Santa Teresa.  It had detailed instructions of how to get around the neighborhood, but nothing on how to get there and back.  Finally I had to stop into a Boteca and find a cab driver.

The reason I was in a hurry was that I had an extremely important appointment to get to.  This, of course, was a soccer game at the world famous Maracana stadium.
Before anyone was in the stadium
  Maracana is somewhat of a national stadium for Brazil.  It was also the site of possibly Brazil's most painful moment in World Cup play when it lost to Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 tournament.  Crowd were estimated at 200,000+ for that game.  Though now the stadium hold a little more than 100,000. 

The match on tap for that evening was Botafogo vs. Fluminense, two rival teams from Rio.  Derbies can get crazy almost anywhere in the world, but I was particularly cautious about this one in Rio.  In my Spanish/Portuguese hybrid language (that I was beginning to get good at) I asked a few locals what tickets to buy.  They told me "arribancada" which I think loosely translates to "up above".  Again, this was completely the opposite instructions of Lonely Planet but I took the locals' advice.
Fluminense supporters lighting flares after the victory
  I was extremely careful about which team's stands I was sitting in but the ticket agent assured me that my seats were "tranquilo".  I couldn't resist the temptation to buy a $7 fake Botafogo jersey on my way in, but I stuffed it in my pocket before I knew it would be safe to wear it.

At my seats, I found a mixed, family crowd of supporters from both teams.  With Botafogo fans outnumbering Fluminense, I felt safe putting on my 'Fogo jersey.  I even learned their team song, whose lyrics they flashed on the scoreboard.  I found the uniforms far more attractive than Fluminense's so I officially named myself a Botafogo fan.  The team promptly rewarded me by losing 2 - nil.  Thanks 'Fogo.  The Fluminense fans taunted us with the Botafogo song, sung to different (and I assume obscene) lyrics.  If anyone has the words to that one, please pass them along.



sybil says:
i can't wait to go to a game, too! should be fun.
Posted on: Nov 06, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Looking toward Leblon on Ipanema B…
Looking toward Leblon on Ipanema …
View of Sugarloaf from Flamengo Be…
View of Sugarloaf from Flamengo B…
The Bund
The Bund
Another colonial home in Santa Ter…
Another colonial home in Santa Te…
Before anyone was in the stadium
Before anyone was in the stadium
Fluminense supporters lighting fla…
Fluminense supporters lighting fl…
Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach
University Building
University Building
Gondola on Sugerloaf
Gondola on Sugerloaf
Halfway up the first leg
Halfway up the first leg
Christ the Redeemer from miles away
Christ the Redeemer from miles away
The city below with the redeemer i…
The city below with the redeemer …
View of Flamengo Beach from Sugarl…
View of Flamengo Beach from Sugar…
Old steps in Gloria
Old steps in Gloria
Colonial home in Gloria
Colonial home in Gloria
Colonial architecture in Santa Ter…
Colonial architecture in Santa Te…
View of the city from Santa Teresa.
View of the city from Santa Teresa.
Mural showing the Pan-Am games fro…
Mural showing the Pan-Am games fr…
View of Centro from Santa Teresa
View of Centro from Santa Teresa
Fluminense fans preparing for the …
Fluminense fans preparing for the…
Village of Urca as seen from the g…
Village of Urca as seen from the …
Sugarloaf from the gondola
Sugarloaf from the gondola
Halfway up
Halfway up
View of Copacabana beach from Suga…
View of Copacabana beach from Sug…
View down the gondola
View down the gondola
View of Sugarloaf from a private p…
View of Sugarloaf from a private …
Fluminense rally
Fluminense rally
Under the lights at Maracana
Under the lights at Maracana
Gotta love the Fluminense Union Ja…
Gotta love the Fluminense Union J…
More Fluminense crazies
More Fluminense crazies
Entrance to Maracana
Entrance to Maracana
Botafogo fan lighting torches
Botafogo fan lighting torches
Fluminense fans starting to fill in
Fluminense fans starting to fill in
Gondola on Sugarloaf
Gondola on Sugarloaf