A dreamlike trip to Brazil: arriving in Rio de Janeiro

July 2014….Brazil….the entire planet lived on Brazilian time for a month during the football world cup.

As the event came to its conclusion and the excitement settled down, it seemed like a good time for us to come visit this country which conveys so many magic images and which we have wanted to visit for a long time.

We will start our trip with the world-famous Rio de Janeiro. Its carnival, the bikinis and the football games on Copacabana beach, Ipanema, the Corcovado….

This trip over 3 full weeks through the Eastern part of Brazil will turn out as fantastic as we had imagined and hoped. Let me tell you about it!

Sunday, July 27. Our plane has departed from Paris Charles de Gaulle late in the evening. After an 11 hour flight with its usual share of turbulences, the plane starts its descent toward Rio de Janeiro. It is Monday, July 28, and my watch indicates 5:30 am as we touch down on Brazilian territory. The captain has announced that the outside temperature is 19° Celsius. A bit cool to our taste. The sky is grey and we can see through the airport windows that it has been raining. Well, after all, it is winter season here.

As we leave the airport heading for the center, it is clear that the city is already wide awake, even though it is still early morning. The traffic is very heavy on both sides of the highway. We wait out a few traffic jams, catching our first glimpse of Rio through the car windows.

Soon we get to spot the first moors, these green hills around which the city of Rio has spread. Some favelas border the highways. Huge signs displaying the faces and promises of the various contenders for the upcoming presidential and governor elections. Blue-color water tanks on the tin roofs of the many uneven buildings scattered in disorderly fashion. Quite a few buildings are unfinished, which makes for a strange impression. We watch attentively, trying not to miss the smallest detail of this city which we have been told so much about and which we finally get to discover with our own eyes.

A good number of tunnels to cross the moors. Then our car drives by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a large lagoon situated in the Zona Sul (the South district) of Rio de Janeiro, not far from the Ipanema and Copacabana districts. Some early risers are doing their morning run and exercises, and a few boats are crossing the lagoon.

Our divers pulls over as we have reached our hotel, the Windsor Excelsior Hotel, right by the Copacabana beach. Great!

After the check-in, we drop our luggage in our rooms and head back downstairs to the hotel restaurant to treat ourselves to a second breakfast after the one on the plane. Well, you know, we want to make sure we will have the strength for a full day of walking around the city! And actually, it turns out to be an excellent breakfast.

A short rest, and out we go for our first walk along the world-renowned Copacabana beach.


To our surprise, the beach is almost empty. But come to think of it, it is winter in Brazil, and today is not very warm. The weather is grey and cloudy. The sea, the sky, the sand are not displaying the bright colors you would expect in the summer.

Copacabana déserte
Copacabana déserte

No need for sun glasses today, and we will not trade our sweaters for swimsuits, but anyhow, we are very happy to walk on this mythical beach, and we are optimistic that the weather will turn around very soon. We will be staying 6 days in Rio, there is plenty of time!

Brésil 2014

We decide to walk to the North end of the beach, to the Pedra do Leme point, where the view of Copacabana is definitely worth the walk. We take our time to admire the long stretch of white sand drawing a perfect curve, the dark moors in the background, the waves breaking smoothly on the beach. In the sky, helicopters come and go, flying low above the beach and apparently watching over the few swimmers who have braved the water in today’s chilly weather.

The walkway all along the Praia de Copacabana of course is famous for its pavement made of tiles which draw black and white waves. On the beach side, it is bordered with palm trees, and numerous food joints and bars where you can enjoy a caipirinha, and on the other side, across the Avenida Atlântica, with apartment buildings and hotels.


We are so happy to be here strolling leisurely in Copacabana.

It is lunchtime, so we stop in a Zona Sul, an excellent supermarket where you can find a good selection of delicious food to eat in or take out. And we enjoy our first picnic on the beach!


After lunch, we decide to go take a look at the historical district called Centro. An opportunity to try and ride the metro of Rio de Janeiro. We board at the Cardeal Arcoverde station and will get off at the Uruguaiana station.

It is a small quarter of narrow paved streets with brightly colored facades, spreading between the Banco do Brazil and the Praça 15 de Novembro.


The Centro district dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the first settlers arrived and buildings were erected for the governor.

The jetlag and long trip are slowly but surely starting to impose their toll on us, and we decide to head back to the hotel. We will resume our sightseeing tomorrow.

Diner on the roof of our hotel where we enjoy a great view of Copacabana by night.

Vue du sommet de notre hôtel sur Copacabana de nuit
Vue du sommet de notre hôtel sur Copacabana de nuit

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