Manaus-- the capital of the Amazon


Have you heard of Manaus before?


My first knowledge of Amazon was through my textbooks in school, it was probably in my elementary years. I was not really a good student, so I never really paid attention to the details or information about it. All I know is that, it’s the largest rainforest in the world.

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Frenchie on the other hand, has long been fascinated by the place. He even made a school report about it in his middle school. Researching in the library with the thickest encyclopedia he could find on the subject. That was how he was into it!

When I moved to Brazil, it was inevitable that visiting the Amazon should be our must do! More like #Frenchiesbucketlist 😊

After all the planning and timing, we finally found ourselves in Manaus—the capital of the Amazon on July 15, 2016 for our two weeks adventure in the largest rainforest of the world.

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Here’s what happens when you don’t listen to your Geography and History classes, you will end up bewildered! I honestly thought that when you say, “Amazon jungle or rainforest”, I will end up in the middle of it! I honestly thought there would be no buildings, cars, hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls.

But I was darn wrong!

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Manaus was actually grander than I expected. Old buildings—European style are visibly beautiful around the city. It’s almost like Paris with Italian piazzas because the rich people at that time constructed grandiose mansions inspired by French architectures.

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Historically, the rich city of Manaus was a product of the rubber boom and the vision of Eduardo Ribeiro, who transformed the city from 1892 to what it looks like today.

“Manaus was an opulent metropolis run by elegant people, who, despite the tropical heat, dressed ad housed themselves as fashionably as their counterparts in any large European city.” (The Rough Guide to Brazil)

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When I read that, I told Frenchie, “Rich people do crazy sh*t with their money! I can only imagine how uncomfortable the women back then, wearing those thick gowns on such hot weather!”

But just like anything else, the rubber boom came to an end—lasted only for thirty years. Yet, Manaus became the commercial and industrial center for the whole Amazon region, it’s like Hong Kong in Asia.

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If you don’t want to be the wild and daring adventurer into the depths of the Amazon jungle, but would still want to experience it somehow, Manaus is the place to be.

You can actually do so much in the city with a little touch of the Amazon adventure!


When in Manaus…


Join the English guided tour of Teatro Amazonas or The Opera House

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It took 12 years to build this opera house that costs R$6 million. At that time, that money was A LOT! The  36,000 tiles for the cupola were imported from Alsace, France. The theater’s main curtain was painted by Brazilian artist, Crispim do Amaral in Paris.

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Famous opera divas and maestros came to perform here during its heydays. Nowadays, there are regular guided tours in English and sometimes free performances. R$20 for the English guided tour, both mornings and afternoons.


Take a boat ride to the Meeting of the Waters

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A day trip you can do when you’re in Manaus is to go to this popular destination. It’s called “Meeting of the Waters” because this is where Rio Negro and Rio Salimoes meet to form the Rio Amazonas. The alkaline Solimoes absorbs the much more acid Rio Negro over 10km downstream.

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The two rivers continue to flow separately. How to distinguish which is which?! The Rio Negro is the black or dark one while the Rio Salimoes is the muddy yellow one.


Visit the Mercado Municipal to see the produce of the Amazon region

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When you’re visiting Brazil, you should not miss visiting any of their Mercado Municipal. The Mercado Municipal of Manaus has an elegant Art Nouveau roof designed by Eiffel (yes, the designer of Eiffel Tower of Paris) during the rubber boom and is a copy of the former Les Halles market in Paris. It is another example of the European influence in the city. 

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This is where you can find the freshest produce, tropical fruits, Brazilian dishes, and cheap souvenirs. You can almost find everything here and on cheap prices.

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We tried some fish dishes and fresh coconut-- straight from the fruit. Frenchie loved it! We checked out some of the spices that can only be produced from the Amazon. The market was a bit dark inside but it is colorful and smells like a hundred spices all together.


Go to the ports or floating docks

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The ports and docks around the city are another way to understand the way of life in the Amazon region. When you visit these areas, you will see constant throng of activities stretching along the riverfront, while the ships moored at the docks.

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You can also enjoy watching the boats getting ready to leave or, having just arrived as they also load or unload their goods. You can also eat here and buy from stalls because they would provide such service to the hungry sailors and passengers.


Hang out at the Praca Sao Sebastiao either late afternoon or at night

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It’s right in front of the Opera House and the praca’s floor mosaic represent the meeting of the waters. But almost very similar to the mosaic by the Copacabana beach. I love this place so much because of the gatherings of the people just to hang out and lazy around. There are several free shows and food stalls to really enjoy your time there every night.

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At daytime, there are several activities too, like a painting class. This place has a trendy vibe, just saying.


Eat the dishes of the region

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The most famous one from Manaus is tacaca (a shrimp with gooey and “fishy gel” that tastes sour because of the leaf that’s on it). And since the region is surrounded by rivers, you will find fishes here that you may only be available here. We tried some of them and it’s a very straight forward meal because they just fry the fish.

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But me being Asian, I convinced Frenchie to take me to a Japanese restaurant in the city, which was conveniently located near our hotel.

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We went there several times that on our last night, I got food poisoning from their “not so fresh” tempura. Weee!


If you want to see the animals of the Amazon without chasing them in the jungle, visit the Manaus zoo.

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Here you can find the mighty jaguar, the different species of monkeys, the wild boars, deadly piranhas, land turtles, THE anaconda, and colorful macaws.

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Unfortunately, if there’s one animal that I really wanted to see in the Amazon jungle, it would be the sloth. But they were nowhere in sight despite our attempts. Frenchie did see one-- crossing the street no less, but in French Guiana. And he caught it all in video!

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The interesting fact of this zoo is that, it’s right inside their military compound. Don’t be surprised if you see army men with rifles.


Take a public bus and savor yourself to the architectural beauty of the city

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We were warned many times that Manaus is not safe. That the city is very much surrounded by pick pockets and muggers. Perhaps there is some truth to that. But here’s the thing, every city in the world—either it’s Paris, Manila, or Hong Kong, danger is present. The only difference you do is that, you get to be mindful of your surroundings, your belongings, or if you put yourself in that situation. We have only met the most kind and warm people, who were very helpful and suggestive. Nothing that shouts “danger”.

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We took the bus and we savor the city scene as much as we can, and we really enjoyed doing it. But again, to each is his own. If you feel that this activity is too risky, then don’t do it. I don’t call this as an adventure, I simply consider this experience as a way to see the locals in their daily element and routines. I believe that when you immerse yourself like a local, you’ll get an authentic experience that none of the guided tours can offer. Just my opinion.😉


Explore the weekend feira

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We were lucky to have spent several days in Manaus, so we ended up being there on a weekend. And weekends around Brazil means there are several feiras happening. This is like a flea market on the weekends were you can find some trinkets and goodies that will be good souvenirs for your trip.


Visit their Tourist Information Office for suggestions of your itinerary

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Frenchie and I did all of our explorations on our own. But we did visit their Tourist Information Center to make sure that we were on the right track. Their office is located behind Teatro Amazonas. We were advised that before we go on our boat trip, we should prepare for our food and our supplies. Frenchie being a frenchie, we went to Carrefour.

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There are several tour groups around the city that will cater your Amazon jungle adventure wish list. The prices vary to what you want to do, what you want to see, and where you want to go. We can't recommend anything because we did everything DIY. But if in case you do find one, make sure that they're established, reputable, and most importantly, have a valid Embratur registry.


Planning an Amazon adventure? Keep a tab on this series.

Art Vibe in Rio

 

What else can Rio de Janeiro offer to travelers?


Aside from the colorful Rio Carnival that takes place every year, Rio de Janeiro is perhaps another haven for artists and aspiring doodlers! ;)

We found this art space somewhere in Botafogo but had no idea if it was for public viewing. We went inside anyway! Haha!


So feast your eyes for some art inspirations and peg!


This could be a living room inspiration.

 

Just so you know, PARE means STOP!

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This could be a living room inspiration.

 

Self portrait art? ;)

 

The infamous street arts...

 
 
 

Graffiti artists...

 
 

And Mona Lisa!

 

Favela paintings.

 

And the elaborate tiles art.

 

What art vibes have you seen on your travels lately?

Santa Marta Favela, Rio de Janeiro

 

Did you ever joined a (group) tour that inspired you?


I felt the need to blog this, separately, because it became as one of the best part of our Rio de Janeiro trip!

I have to admit that prior into doing this tour or even before coming to Brazil, I had no single idea about favelas. On my very first day at my apartment in Vitoria, it did caught my attention because I can see it from our balcony.

I love the view. I love looking at it! I love the symmetry of those brick small houses. A landmark that certainly added beauty to an already beautiful place and country.

It is also a beautiful source of inspiration for artists and sketchers alike, that it even got a feature on Google's doodle on June 18, 2014 during the 2014 World Cup opening day!

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So I got curious and curiouser. Thankfully, Frenchie is as equally fascinated and intrigued as I was about this so called communities around Brazil that we took the plunge of visiting one favela community.

Michelin Travel Guidebook of Rio de Janeiro pointed us to the direction of Santa Marta Favela through the guided tours under Favela Santa Marta Tours.

Luckily, we had the tour guide, Pedro to ourselves because quite frankly, I'm very skeptical about being in a group tour, mainly because things are being done too fast. But not on this one. We were able to take our time, we were able to ask what our curious minds wanted to ask, and we were able to learn a lot of things. And of course the bonus was, we were able to gain a friend and inspiring lessons as we capped it off.

Urban Dictionary defines a favela as; a Brazilian ghetto, the toughest neighborhoods you would ever want to find yourself in. Makes American ghettos and barrios look tame. Even the police are afraid to enter.

But don't be scared off by this definition because, yes, although they are dangerous neighborhoods, but you also have to think that the people who live here are simply getting by with their day-to-day-lives just like any of us.

Coming from the Philippines, I can't help but feel a certain familiarity to this place. Yes, we have slum areas around the country as well. Here's a Google image I found of slum area in Manila...

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Having said that, I wanted to share what lessons I've taken from this tour...


They didn't really choose to be there. Historically, because these people were considered poor in the social status hierarchy, they were pushed away from the city and were forced to live in these areas. In 1900's after the end of slavery, the poor migrants moved from the countryside to the big city of Rio. As most of them have neither work nor money, they ended up living in one of these slum areas. People who live  in favelas are called, moradores da favela ("inhabitants of favela").

It's a gruesome walk if your house is located at the top. Since the location of these favelas are on steeply hills, getting to the top would not only take a lot of time but also a bit tiring. But perhaps only to someone who has been there for the first time, like me. ;) But I guess for people who have lived here for years, walking and taking the steps everyday is already a form of daily exercise! :D

These days, Brazilian government have provided the communities with either cable cars or elevator rides. Thank goodness!

For many, many years, they didn't have access to clean water & electricity. I have learned the value of water at an early age, when we had to pitch a pail, on our own before taking a bath. Having water coming from a tap is already a luxury for me! I also know what it feels like to have no electricity because growing up, we experienced constant blackouts almost on a daily basis in the time of President Ramos. Now that I'm an adult and have great access to them, I freak out when I don't have both. These basic necessities are of great value for me and knowing that other people in other parts of the world were deprived from these, is very heartbreaking.

Thankfully now, not only do they have access to water and electricity but also to internet and cable TVs. Awesome!

Yes, drug traffickers may have lived here but it's not a basis of stereotyping that all people who live in favelas are bad people. We need to understand that these people were deprived with their rights since their great grandfathers and grandmothers. They had a very hard life to begin with, but that doesn't mean that they all resorted to evil things. Most people here also have decent jobs and the children are going to school. In fact, I have the chance to talk to a young girl there, whose family owns a small store (think Sari-Sari store), who speaks very fluent English and who wanted to become a doctor-- in Cuba! Isn't that admirable? Sadly, there's still a stigma that is associated with people living in favelas, that leads to having a difficulty in finding good jobs.

Since 2008, the Brazilian government have "pacified" 264 favelas out of 1,300, around Rio de Janeiro with the presence of a police force called, Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora or UPP. In English translation, Pacifying Police Units whose task is to create a safer environment to these communities, also in the hope of eradicating the drug problems.

To stop poverty in these communities, many NGOs have established their small organization offices within the favelas. We met a musician who has dedicated his life in teaching children in Santa Marta with music and how to play musical instruments. He never gets paid for doing this, but his selfless actions in the community has transpired to inspire children to be better, that they even join and win major musical competitions around the country! Very inspiring indeed!

Aside from music, children are also being provided to learn computer skills, English/Spanish language, and of course, football! It's not bad to dream of being the next Neymar Jr. after all! ;)

There are 11.4 million Brazilians that live in favelas around the country. That's a huge number indeed, but it is inspiring to learn that most of these people have managed to improve their lives although they live in favelas. Just take the example of the founder/owner of Favela Santa Marta Tour, Thiago. He might have become a little bit "better" in life, in terms of financial aspect, but he has remained humble and it has become his advocacy to promote only positive views about favelas in Brazil.

And I could only wish the same things as well! :)

Favelas have not only attracted ordinary people/tourists but also famous personalities around the world. For Santa Marta favela alone, it's the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson!

He has made this community famous through his "They Don't Care About Us" music video!

Other famous personalities that have visited a favela in Rio de Janeiro were; President Barack Obama, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Will Smith, and my favorite is of course, Pope Francis during the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio!

The last out take I have from this and the best lesson I've learned, not only on this tour but also in my own life experience, is that, even if your community may not be as beautiful or as pleasant as it is, you need to believe and persevere that great things will come your way. The people we met and have talked with in Santa Marta Favela were true testaments of one of my favorite quotes, from the movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower: "We can't choose where we come from. But we can choose where we go from there."

Yes, we can always do something and defeat poverty, and this I know for sure is true--- through education! If you persevere and do better in school and educating yourself to become better, believe me, you will fly higher than your dreams! I knew a lot of successful people and success stories that came from humble beginnings, poor backgrounds, and sh*tty neighborhoods. All they did was study very, very hard, that they were granted with scholarships or philanthropic help from people who believed in them, and eventually became graduates and was able to find better jobs, and have better lives now--- a far cry from where they came from! :)

Poverty is not an excuse to be stuck and lazy and just settle for that. It should be a driving force and motivation to succeed! 

No BUTs and no IFs! And of course, leave the rest to God!


Is this something would you like to experience in your travels?

Rio de Janeiro- A DIY Backpacking Guide!

 

How to do-to-it-yourself travel guide in this sexy city!


It's probably the beaches. It's probably the gorgeous people. It's probably the laid back atmosphere. Or it's probably the iconic Christ the Reedemer. For whatever it is, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been written in most of the traveler's bucketlist in recent years.

For us, FrienchieatPinay, Rio de Janeiro was a dream destination since 2013. We've always wanted to see it for ourselves, why most people are gushing over this vibrant city-- despite a numerous warnings that it has danger of its own.

So here's an ultimate guide on how you can also DIY a backpacking trip to Rio de Janeiro! You're welcome! ;)

As a new resident in Vitoria ES, we started our backpacking journey in my new adopted city. But if you're coming from another part of the world, flying to Rio or Brazil is quite pricey. Check out www.skyscanner.com or the mobile app, Hopper for cheap flight deals.

The best thing about traveling around Brazil (or South America for that matter) is that taking buses are convenient and cheap options for long journeys. From Vitoria ES to Rio de Janeiro is about nine hours, with two stops along the way. R$ 96.00- R$130/person or $25-34 (roundtrip).

These are the major bus lines in Brazil: Aguia Branca, Sao Geraldo, Itapemirim, and Kaissara for your bus reservation information. It's in Portuguese but hopefully, your computer can translate these websites to make your purchase a breeze. ;)


Important Note: Once you purchased your ticket online, you need to print out your confirmation and present it to the bus' ticket office at the terminal, as they print out your official ticket stub. Your confirmation is NOT YET your ticket. You will need to present your passport or international IDs with this process. So get them handy.  


Although Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are the famous area to stay in while in Rio de Janeiro, Frenchie and I opted to stay in the neighborhood of Catete, which is in the central area of the city.

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Hotel Riazor was our best choice. It is an old charming hotel conveniently located right outside Catete subway stop. R$130/night or $34 for a double bed room including breakfast. We booked it through www.booking.com. It is also 5-7 minutes walk to Largo do Machado, where we took most of local buses and some subway trips from Point A to Point B of Rio's tourists spots.

Here's the Metro Rio map for your reference:

 

Before starting on any trips, we always seek or look for a Tourist Information for their maps and travel tips. Take a look what Rio de Janeiro Tourism gave us. You can also check out this information online: http://www.rioguiaoficial.com.br/


 Ultimate DIY Guide Around Rio de Janeiro's Tourist Attractions


1.     Christ the Redeemer/ Corcovado

In Portuguese, Cristo Redentor is the largest and most famous statue of Christ in the world-- 710 meters high above the city! Also considered to be the iconic landmark of the country.

How we got there: By 422 bus from Largo da Machado to Cosme Velho (R$3.40/person or less than $1). We opted for the train ride to get to the top, instead of taking the bus tours that most people did. We arrived around 10AM at the ticket office and we were told that the next ticket available is for 2:30PM. (R$62/person or $16 including the roundtrip train ride to Cosme Velho ticket station.)

Tickets available through the website tremdocorcovado.com.br, at Riotur tourist information kiosks at Downtown (rua da Candelaria, 6) and on Copacabana beach (on the boardwalk, near by Rua Hilario de Gouveia), at the Corcovado Train kiosk at Shopping Rio Sul (rua Lauro Muller - Botafogo) at the official box office of the Cosme Velho train station. And Correios - Santos Dumont Airport (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm); Tom Jobim Airport (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday,  8am to 3:30pm); Barra Shopping (Avenida das Américas, 4.666, store106, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 10pm); Botafogo (Voluntários da Pátria Strett 254, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm); Copacabana (Av. Nossa Senhora de Copacabana 540, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturday, 9am to 1pm); AC JK (Visconde de Itaboraí Strett 20/térreo – Centro, Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 7pm; e Largo do Machado (Largo do Machado 35, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm e Saturday, 9am to 13pm).

Price: Adults - R$62 ($16), Children 6-12 years - R$31 ($3.50). Under 6 years - Free. Seniors from 60 years, people with special needs and students have 50% discount upon presentation of the document.


#FrenchieAtPinayTips: Because of the popularity of this tourist attraction, we advised that it's either you get there very early in the morning, or buy the tickets a day or two before your planned trip. It can be a bit windy and foggy once you're up there, so make sure you have a sweater to keep you warm. I think, the best time to go there is from 10-noon. :)

 

2.     Santa Marta Favela Tour

Rio de Janeiro's favelas are notoriously known for being ruled by drug traffickers or by organized crime groups. Historically, a favela is where the slaves were pushed away from the city, thus it is considered as a slum area where poor people live.

Santa Marta favela on the other hand, became the first favela in Rio pacified by the Brazilian government in 2008. It was made famous by Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us" music video.

This was our most favorite part of the trip because we learned so much and it was an eye-opening experience! It was a great way to really understand the life of the Brazilians in the city and how they are shaping up their lives from the community they're from. Plus, we had the tour guide to ourselves and we gained a friend!

Call of book your reservation online: www.favelasantamartatour.blogspot.com.br

The meeting point is at a Shell Gas Station near Botafogo subway stop. R$85/person or $22 for advance online booking and R$100/person or $26 for paying at the meeting point. It is 2.5 hours of touring around the favela. Hopefully, you will have our awesome guide, Pedro and tell him we recommended this tour! ;)

 

3.     Sugar Loaf

Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese is one of the best places to have a nice view of Guanabara Bay.

It has two stages to get to the top of the Urca Hill and the Sugar Loaf by cable car. R$62/person or $16.

How we got there: We walked our way from Botafogo subway stop but it was quite a walk! So I suggest that you take a taxi. There's a public bus that stops near the area but to keep you safe from public transport especially if you're not speaking the language, it's better to take a taxi or walk your way from the subway stop with the help of your Google map app. ;)

Why was it called Sugar Loaf?! Because it has a resemblance to the traditional shape of the concentrated refined loaf sugar. This is the best place to have a panoramic view of the whole city of Rio de Janeiro, just like at the top Christ the Redeemer, plus if you get lucky, you'll meet a tiny little friend roaming around the area. You know, the monkey in Rio 2 (the movie)  ;)

 

4.     Copacabana beach

For Brazilians, they associate the beach with this mosaic sidewalk. This was designed and completed in 1970 by Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape architect. 

This is where you'll see the lovely and gorgeous Brazilians. And football is a topmost activity of many by the beachside.

They also have a sand art that features the famous events in the city.

 

5.     Ipanema beach

This beach is right next to the Copacabana beach. Ipanema in Tupi language means "stinky lake". But I don't think it was. I didn't smell it at all. ;) This beach was made famous by a bossa nova song, "The Girl From Ipanema".....

How to get there: Take the subway Line 1 and get off at Ipanema/Gal. Osorio stop. R$3.70/person or less than $1


#FrenchieatPinayTips: If you plan to swim in these beaches, don't bring any valuables. Just bring a towel is enough. ;) We have read and heard stories of tourists being robbed/assaulted by the beach even on broad daylight! Fortunately, we never had any close encounter or experience like that. But to stay safe, don't walk alone at night or at almost dusk. Stay at the sidewalk area in case you're there at night.


On this trip, we stayed at three different hotels. That's because we stayed longer than planned and at the same time we wanted to stay at a B&B place in Lapa. Frenchie found Casa da Gente, an idyllic and green place that is truly an inspiration being located in urban city like Rio de Janeiro. It is owned by a French woman, managed by Argentinian siblings, and have Brazilian workers. R$200/per night for double bedroom or $51.

 

6. Selaron steps

Located next to where we stayed in Lapa. The now world-famous steps was a one-of-a-kind-work-of-art by a Chilean-born artist,  Jorge SelarónThis was his tribute to the Brazilian people, as he had lived right outside the steps since 1983 until his death in 2013.

The steps are literally covered with tiles, ceramics, and mirrors in a form of mosaic. There are about 2,000+ tiles collected from around the world being displayed here. Free or open to public.

How to get there: There are no direct public transport to the steps. You can either take a taxi or take a subway to Gloria or Cinelandia then walk your way from there. We took a public bus and walked about 10 minutes to get there. These are the bus numbers: 123, 161 or 433. R$3.40 or less than $1.

 

7. Lapa

This is where you can find the Arcos da Lapa, which was originally built to bring fresh water in the city. It is considered to be an impressive example of colonial architecture and engineering as it was built in the middle of the 18th century.

On this modern day, Lapa is known as the bar district of Rio de Janeiro. Every nook and cranny of the area sells your choice of beverage and gives you an ultimate enjoyment through samba music and salsa dancing! The cost of drinks ranges from R$ 15-60 or $4-16, depending on the kind of alcohol you want.

How to get there: To be safe, take a reliable taxi. In our case, we walked because we were staying in Lapa. (They said it is dangerous to walk around Lapa at night, but contrary to that, we didn't feel endangered at all.) But just be sure to stay at well-lighted streets.


#FrenchieAtPinayTips: Just bring enough cash for your drink consumption. Wear casually. Avoid wearing flashy jewelries. And keep in mind that for Brazilians, Sunday is like I-don't-want-to-go-out-I-will-stay-at-home-kind-of-a-day. So don't waste your time going there on a Sunday, although some bars and party places have an exception to this.

*Oh and don't forget to bring an ID (like a photocopy of your passport) if you plan to enter some clubs. It is required by the entrance.

 

8. Sta Teresa

This is the artsy-fartsy neighborhood of Rio. You can find most art stores and coffee-hang-out-places around. We especially loved the street graffiti arts. Frenchie and I were lucky to have met and watched the artists worked on their graffiti art, which reminded us so much of the one we saw in the Museum of the City of New York

A must-see in this neighborhood is the Parque das Ruínas, where you can also have a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro but shorter in height as compared to the one in Sugar Loaf hill and Christ the Redeemer. Free entrance.

How to get there: Just like getting to Lapa or Selaron steps. As this area is within the same neighborhood, you can walk around to and from these three places.

 

9. Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

It is another architectural landmark, looking like an up sided-cone, located in the center of the city that draws tourists' interest to see it rather than visit it for it's purpose as a church. It was built between 1964 and 1997.

As a churchgoer myself, I was surprised that the Sunday mass people were only less than a hundred, despite the fact that Brazil is the number one Catholic country in the world, based on its population. It was my first Sunday mass since I arrived in Brazil. 

How to get there: Take the subway Line 1 or Line 2 and get off at the Cinelandia station. And walk your way up to the church.


#FrenchieAtPinayTips: If you want to attend a mass, the schedules are: Mon-Fri 11am; Sat-Sun 10am. All masses are in Portuguese. There is also a museum at the basement of the church, mostly religious statues. Opens on Wed, Sat, and Sun from 9:00 am till noon. Other days is for reservation only. But the cathedral is open everyday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

 

10. Explore the Central Area

The Central subway station was introduced to me by Frenchie through a 1998 Brazilian-French drama film, Central do Brasil. Which became my all time favorite Brazilian movie!

The central area is where "old Rio" can still be seen. Which reminded me so much of old Manila and downtown Iloilo. To my Pinoy friends, don't you think so, based on these pics?!...

And the one that looks like the Flat Iron Building in NYC!

How to get there: Take the subway and you can either get off at Uruguaiana or Central and walk around from there. R$3.20/trip or less than $1.

 

11. Hippie Market in Ipanema

Also known as the Feira Hippie Ipanema is a hippie market place only on Sundays at the General Osorio Square. It starts around 10AM until the early evening, wherein you can find art, jewelry, shirts, bags, furniture, hammocks, and other more. 

We tried looking around for a hammock but we never saw any. I ended up buying the infamous Ipanema colorful bracelets, a Copacabana backpack, and a sexy blouse. ;)

But the must try in this fair is the food from Salvador, Bahia-- the Acarajébeing served by these wonderful women! R$9.00/serving or $3.

How to get there: Take subway Line 1 and get off at the Ipanema/Gal. Osorio stop. Just follow the direction to Osorio Square. R$3.20/ person or less than $1.

 

12. Football Game at Estádio São Januário

This is the very reason why we extended our stay in Rio de Janeiro. We wanted to experience how it's like to watch a football game in this football-loving nation. For football fans like us, we checked a bucket list dream! 

And boy oh boy! To describe it as a religion is totally an understatement!!! The level of passion for each Brazilian fan for this sport or for their favorite team alone, is more than 110%! It was certainly contagious! haha! 

We were so lucky that our favela tour guide, Pedro was able to get us a ticket for this Vasco de Gama vs. Palmeiras SP because they sell like hotcakes! Football games are only every Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the year and around Brazil, in the teams' respective stadiums.

In Rio de Janeiro, there are three big stadiums where they held the games: Maracana, Botafogo, and Sao Juanario. (R$60/person or $15.50 but some games can be a bit pricey depending on the teams that are playing.)

How to get there: There are various bus services that connect with the stadium. Bus 473 brings you from Copacabana directly to the stadium. Get on the bus at the Rua Tonelera. The stadium is at the end of the line. Bus 472 also passes right in front of the stadium. You can board this bus in downtown (Av Pres Vargas), Flamengo (Praia do Flamengo), or at the northern edge of Copacabana. From Ipanema you can catch bus 474, which also passes through Copacaban (Av Ns de Copacabana), Flamengo, and downtown. The bus stops a 5-minute walk away from the stadium (follow the Rua Saõ Januário north.) From Rodoviária Novo Rio bus station you can take bus 209, which again leaves you right in front of the stadium.


#FrenchieatPinayTips: We were lucky to have Pedro as our tour guide throughout this whole event. And I don't advise you to go there alone. Although, it is already an adventure of its own. But then again, you need to have a Brazilian friend or a guide that knows the drill. And I kid you not, there were "smsll" riots within the stadium among fans from each team, when we watched the game! ;)


So if you really want to watch a game, try to contact this guy, who arranges everything for you whenever there is a Football game in Maracana Stadium. He also posted schedules throughout theyear, for your reference. Take note: He only covers the games that take place in Maracan. www.futebolnomaracana.blogspot.com.br


For food/restaurant choices: It can be a bit frustrating to eat a restaurant around Rio de Janeiro if you don't speak Portuguese because most menus have no pictures and it's not in English. Thankfully, they have this Serve-Yourself-Lanchonete-Buffet-Style.

Basically, it says what it says. You choose your food among the variety of choices from salads, vegetables, meet, rice, desserts, and Brazilian BBQs. You will then place your plate on a weighing scale and pay the amount according to the weigh of your food. It's the cheaper and best option. And you can practically find them around the city. Just look out for signs like this... :)

Rio de Janeiro has brought so much color and new lessons into our lives, through this trip! We highly recommend you to visit this country and city one day, and set aside all your negative assumptions about this place. We hope this guide will be as informative as it was when we were there-- for that future travel of yours. I can't even wait to go back and experience the Carnival in 2016! ;)


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