Sat, Apr 03, 2010 - Page 16 News List

48 hours in Rio

Brazil’s second city is gradually shaking off a reputation for crime and decadence as it surfs an economic boom and prepares to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games

By Stuart Grudgings  /  REUTERS , RIO DE JANEIRO

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s capital of samba and Carnival, is a city forever defined in people’s imagination by its miles of golden beach that on weekends draw millions of sun-worshippers.

But there is much more to Brazil’s second city, which is gradually shaking off a reputation for crime and decadence as it surfs an economic boom and prepares to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games in the next six years.

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of a stay in Brazil’s former capital, which was also once the capital of the Portuguese empire.

Friday

5pm Walk the promenade along Ipanema beach and admire the sunset as Cariocas, as residents of Rio de Janeiro are known, wind up another day of sunbathing, beach volleyball and beer-drinking on one of the world’s most spectacular city beaches. Quench your thirst with a fresh coconut or a caipirinha from a stall on the walkway or from one of the vendors on the beach.

10pm Take a taxi or bus to nightlife district Lapa and get a table at Nova Capela, a Rio institution founded in 1923 whose white-jacketed waiters will serve you some of the best bolinhos de bacalhao (cod balls), javali (wild boar) and cabrito (goat) in the city.

Midnight Soak up the buzz around Lapa’s famous white arches as revelers gather to drink cheap beer at outside stalls and people-watch to the beat of samba.

1am Head to one of Lapa’s atmospheric samba clubs to try your hand at the dance that defines Rio’s spirit or just watch Cariocas of all ages come together to dance and sing along with the lyrics of old favorites. Some great clubs in Lapa include the eclectically furnished Rio Scenarium (www.rioscenarium.com.br), Democraticus, and Carioca da Gema (www.barcariocadagema.com.br/bar.htm).

A taxi ride away are Centro Cultural Carioca (www.centroculturalcarioca.com.br/home.php) and Trapiche Gamboa (www.trapichegamboa.com.br) both in beautifully restored old buildings.

Saturday

10am After breakfast, shake off your hangover by ordering a fresh fruit juice from one of the juice bars that can be found on virtually every street corner. Remember to ask for sem acucar (without sugar) or pouco acucar (a little sugar) unless you have a sweet tooth. The Amazonian berry acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) is a favorite of body-conscious Cariocas.

11am If the weather is clear, make the pilgrimage up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado mountain either by taxi or the train that leaves from the base of the mountain, in the Cosme Velho neighborhood.

On the first Saturday of each month, a great way to spend a few hours is wandering along Rua do Lavradio in Lapa where live music and an outdoor market accompany the street’s furniture and antique stores.

1pm Try Bar Lagoa (www.barlagoa.com.br) for lunch beside the picturesque lake that sits between the Ipanema area and Corcovado mountain and which will be the venue for rowing events at the 2016 Olympics.

2pm Hit the beach! Order chairs and sun umbrella from one of the vendors. It’s not cool to sit on a towel.

8pm to 9pm Get a taxi or the tram up to the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa and have dinner at restaurant Aprazivel (www.aprazivel.com.br/aprazivelIE6.htm), which commands sweeping views over the city and Guanabara Bay and has excellent Brazilian food and caipirinhas. Make an early reservation to get the best views.

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