With every new encounter here in Brazil, I get asked the same question, “Have you visited Rio yet?” Whether I’m speaking with a native person or a fellow foreigner, they all rave that Rio de Janeiro is a can’t-miss experience.
Now that I’m nearly half way through my 4th visit to the country, I can finally say that I have.
Like much of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is known to be a dangerous area and gringos are especially warned to take caution when visiting; especially after their reputation was smeared during the 2016 Olympics (thanks a lot, Ryan Lochte). While I didn’t have the same anxieties as my first trip to Brazil, I was still on high-alert. I didn’t pack any of my jewelry and happily left my nicer clothing and handbags behind. Who needs any of that at the beach anyways?
When Nate booked our most recent stay at the Hotel Emiliano in Jardins, São Paulo, he asked them to hook us up for a weekend at their location on Copacabana Beach. Not only did they honor the discounted nightly rate for our extended stay in Jardins, but they treated us like absolute kings. The staff at these hotels never disappoint and are by far the most accommodating I have ever experienced. The flight there was a little less than an hour long, making the trip painless and totally worth it for just a couple of days.
The Hotel Emiliano is located right across from the beach and provides their guests with a beachside service of seating and snacks, as well as a security guard on site. If sand isn’t your thing, the hotel also has a full-service rooftop pool and patio with an incredible view of the beach below.
We were told that while São Paulo is known for their nightlife, Rio is better known for their daytime activities. We arrived early Friday morning so we had much of the day to take advantage of what the beach had to offer. Our friend Dana had spent the week prior in Rio so he was able to show us the livelier side.
What’s cool about the beach here is that every few yards you’ll come across a little tent which provides you with chairs and an umbrella, as well as a food and drinks service (some even have WiFi). Once we were settled, we ordered a favorite Brazilian cocktail, the caipirinha, and got to lounging.
Another thing I love about the beaches here are the vendors who walk around selling bathing suits and cover ups, beach blankets, and various games. While I ended up buying a blanket and cover up, Nate purchased a paddle ball set the guys ended up playing until it broke.
Even if you’ve never been to Rio, I can imagine you still have an idea of what the women there look like. Many of them are super hot with nice tans and curvy bodies, and yes, they all wear tiny bikinis. That being said, everyone there wears tiny clothing, even the men and the ‘not-so-hot’ women. It’s pretty standard to wear as little clothing as possible, and there is no shame.
While this could make some people uncomfortable, I personally loved it (I don’t think they guys minded either). I don’t think I saw one person on that beach wearing a one-piece, and everyone there was having the time of their life.
Our first evening in Rio was pretty low-key. Nate and I ended up on our hotel’s rooftop for drinks and appetizers, and eventually enjoyed a meal in the hotel’s restaurant with our friends Dana and Brendon.
Saturday morning Dana brought us to a cool little breakfast place called the Gringo Café. If the name doesn’t say it all, this spot is known for their “American” breakfast, and they were right on point. I’m kind of an eggs bene snob, and this one was pretty good. Also, I’ve been searching Brazil for what I consider a great iced coffee, and I have to say, this one was the best I’ve had throughout my travels.
If we weren’t gringo enough already, here we were told by our waiter that Dana looks like Zac Efron, and Nate like Ed Sheeran (how classic).
After breakfast, we decided to rent bikes for the day so we could travel up and down the beach strip. Nate and I had motorbikes that moved without pedaling, while Dana and Brendon got in some real exercise.
Warning: Speaking from experience, these motorbikes should not be operated while intoxicated (they go fast).
Following our bike ride, Nate treated us to detox massages at the hotel’s spa by a woman with easily the softest hands I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had a decent number of massages in my life but this was by far the best I’ve ever had, and Nate agreed.
Elaine, if you’re reading this, you are a goddess.
Once showered and ready, Nate said he had a surprise planned for dinner. After a 30 minute Uber ride to Santa Teresa, we arrived at the top of a large hill to a seemingly small building with an elevator. A bit confused at first, we got into the elevator and hoped for the best. When the doors opened we were amazed. We were looking at a beautiful restaurant that resembled a treehouse and had a view of the entire city. Aprazível came as a recommendation from our good friend Marcelo, and it did not disappoint. The view was stunning, and the food was very good.
Following dinner, Nate and I went to Baretto Londra located in a backroom at the Hotel Fasano in Ipanema, a recommendation from our friend Paul. When we arrived around 11 PM there wasn’t much going on other than the DJ and a few scattered couples enjoying drinks. Upon further investigation, we found that this hotel has hosted many celebs. They had an entire wall by the bathroom dedicated to thank-you notes from people like Coldplay, Madonna, Victoria Beckham and Reese Witherspoon (to name a few).
We were told things would pick up after 1 AM, but Fridays are typically their busier night. Once again, we were not disappointed. As the crowd got bigger, the DJ played some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time. I literally had my phone out shazaam-ing every song.
Our last day in Rio was spent primarily on our hotel’s rooftop. Admittedly I was a bit sick when I woke up that morning and the weather wasn’t ideal, so we just lounged around and enjoyed the view.
Even with the imperfect weather, the beach still looked amazing, so I decided I wasn’t too sick to take a #selfie.