Shopping in Leblon and Meeting a TravBuddy

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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Nao contem gluten (on a bottle of soda) -- "Doesn't contain gluten". Notice how large and helpful the text is! I wish it was like that in the USA.
The weather forecast predicted rain, so we decided to just take it easy during the day and do some walking and shopping around the Leblon area. Leblon is one of the nicest parts of Rio -- there are a multitude of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, and everyone seems happy and fashionably dressed. Apparently lots of movie stars and famous people live here, too, and prices for apartments on the beach easily reach the millions of dollars (USD). As I mentioned in a previous blog post, restaurant prices were about the same as you would find for nice restaurants in Los Angeles.

We knew Leblon was expensive, but it didn't prepare us for the prices we saw at the "Shopping Leblon" mall. Simple graphic t-shirts at "Diesel" were 300 reais ($179!).
Colorful street near Lapa.
A long-sleeved shirt/thin sweater was 1,100 reais ($620 USD!!!!). At first, we thought that there was a decimal point missing, but this was not the case. These prices are probably 6-8x what you might expect to pay in the states. All the trendy, fashionable young people walking the streets of Leblon must have rich parents, otherwise I don't know how they would afford to live there!

One nice part about shopping in Brazil, though, is that everything you find in the supermarket is very clearly marked as "nao contem gluten" or "contem gluten" (contains gluten or doesn't contain gluten). It's in giant bold letters, right under the ingredient list of any product. I think it's required by law. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and I get terrible acid reflux/heartburn (probably from a condition called Celiac disease) whenever I eat anything with gluten in it.
Colorful buildings near Lapa.
In the United States, there is no regulation saying you have to mark a product as containing gluten. Even items marked "gluten free" may not actually be gluten free, because there are no laws governing its usage. I've actually found it easier to shop in supermarkets here in Rio than in the states because everything is clearly marked and labeled, even though I can't even read Portuguese.


After shopping we relaxed at the hotel a bit and then met up with TravBuddy member BR-UNO ( A few months ago I had commented on a few of Bruno's reviews on TravBuddy, and he gave us a lot of advice about Rio. He was actually the one who recommended the hotel that we are staying at in Leblon. I must admit I was slightly nervous because Bruno didn't have a profile photo up on TB, so I didn't know what to expect when we met him, but he turned out to be a really awesome, friendly and helpful guy.
Samba band at the Rio Scenarium.

He took us out to a restaurant with in the Lapa area of downtown (Rio Scenarium) that had live samba music. One cool thing about Rio is that everyone dances to the music - young people, old people, and even cool looking dudes who wouldn't be caught dead even slightly swaying their hips in a nightclub in LA. And people seem to be dancing to have a good time, not just to hit on girls in a creepy and awkward manner.

We walked around in Lapa for a bit, but it was raining, so we decided to just grab one more drink back in Leblon and call it a night. It was great talking to Bruno and we learned a lot of interesting things about Rio that we otherwise would have never learned about: how the sewers go straight into the ocean, but they don't tell the tourists ;) ; how even though tourists pay premium prices to stay at the Copacabana Palace, most of them never venture outside the hotel because the surrounding streets are quite dangerous; how the rich in Rio keep moving further and further south and west (From Copacabana to Ipanema and now to Leblon); how the borders between favelas and other parts of the city are more fluid and dynamic than guidebooks would have you believe; how people commute 3 hours each way from favelas to work in downtown (we saw dozens of people lining up and waiting in the rain outside bus stops near Lapa even after 10PM); and many other fascinating things.
Lisa, Br-uno, and Eric at the Rio Scenarium.

He was a great host - always making sure we were having a good time, answering all of our questions, telling us about life in Rio, insisting on paying for all the taxi fees despite my continual protestation - and we were very grateful and happy that we had the opportunity to meet him. It truly made our experience in Rio much more memorable!
elicox says:
In Spain there is a supermarket (mercadona), where every product is marked with that information. I think in Spain there are not any regulation neither, But this store is so successful that the manufacturer has changed the labels ;-)
Posted on: Apr 08, 2010
yadilitta says:
Yes, meeting a local is great. It's the best way to know a city, specially a touristy one. You get the opportunity to see and know much more.
Posted on: Jan 28, 2010
ahtibat17 says:
Interesting about the grocery stores! I enjoy going to grocery stores when traveling; you really can get a feel for the local-life there.
Posted on: Jan 27, 2010
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Nao contem gluten (on a bottle of …
Nao contem gluten (on a bottle of…
Colorful street near Lapa.
Colorful street near Lapa.
Colorful buildings near Lapa.
Colorful buildings near Lapa.
Samba band at the Rio Scenarium.
Samba band at the Rio Scenarium.
Lisa, Br-uno, and Eric at the Rio …
Lisa, Br-uno, and Eric at the Rio…
Everybody dancing at the Rio Scena…
Everybody dancing at the Rio Scen…
Lisa and Eric @ Lapa, Br-uno with …
Lisa and Eric @ Lapa, Br-uno with…