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The best of Rio de Janeiro
Written by: Milan Duda
Brazilian Rio de Janeiro is a city full of sunshine, samba, freedom and neverending entertainment. At the same time, it is also a city with a high concentration of poverty and criminality. But don't let that stop you from visiting this "marvellous city" and meeting its warm and welcoming inhabitants.
country manager for Czech Republic, Arthur D. Little
Favorite hotel: Copacabana Palace, Av. Atlantica, 1702 Copacabana, tel. +5521 2548 7070
- Due to its location, services and tradition, it recalls of the golden years of Rio de Janeiro.
Favorite restaurant: Porcčo Rio's, Av. Infante Dom Henrique Aterro do Flamengo, tel. +5521 2554 8535
- Excellent food, complete Brazilian buffet, wonderful view of Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay, and great service.
Favorite night spots: Melt - Rua Rita Ludolf, 47 Leblon, tel. +5521 2249 9309
00 - Av. Padre Leonel Franca, 240 Gávea, tel. +5521 2540 8041
Favorite shop: Fashion Mall Shopping Estrada da Gávea, 899 Sčo Conrrado
Favorite attractions: Barra beach, Barra da Tijuca
- a public beach where most of people from Rio go
Best-kept secret: Botanic Garden, Rua Jardim Botanico, 1008, tel. +5521 2294 9349 / 2239 1497
Favorite hotel: Hotel Merlin Copacabana, Av Princesa Isabel 392, Copacabana, tel. +5521 2132 1000
Luxury hotel in the end of Copacabana with a swimming pool on the roof that offers view on the surrounding hills and beach.
Favorite restaurant: Mercado 32, Rua do Mercado, 32 - Centro, tel. +5521 2221 2327
- far-famed with meat prepared on grill
Favorite night spot: Dama da Noite, Av. Gomes Freire 773, Lapa, Centro, tel. +5521 2221 5441
- they play samba and chorinho, serve dried meat and five types of of Brazilian cane liquor - cachaća
Favorite shop:Rio Design, Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 270, Av. das Américas 7777
Two shopping centers in Leblon and in Barra de Tijuca.
Favorite attraction: Tandemový let na kluzáku - Try a tandem fly with a sail-plane viewing beaches of Rio, Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana district from a bird's-eye view.
Best-kept secret: The last tram line in Rio (No. 11) takes you through a late aqueduct over Lapa district to Santa Teresa, an old quarter with a dingy fame, where the local aristocracy used to live.
Favorite hotel: Hotel Copacabana
- In a district of the same name, 200 meters (two blocks) from the beach
Favorite restaurant: Churrascaria - that kind of restaurant where you can load your plate with fantastic delicacies and pay for them according to their weight (no matter whether you eat potatoes or steak)
Favorite night spot: - In Lapa district there are several streets that abound with dance halls (located in old buildings that used to be factories or shops). One of the most popular ones is Asa Branca.
Favorite shop: Modern Sound E Equipamentos, Barata Ribeiro 502-D, Copacabana district. - Music store (like Prague Bontonland) with an interesting interior, wide choice of music available on all kinds of media, cosy café, exhibition of paintings or graphics, and pleasant staff. Open until late at night.
Carnival, of course, cannot be ommitted. If you plan to visit Brazil only once in your life, you need to go at the beginning of February and be willing to pay a high entrance fee to sambadrom. Though the carnival in the streets is interesting, it differs from the one on sambadrom in the same way an amateur accordion player performing in a village pub differs from a philharmonic orchestra in Rudolfinum.
Best-kept secret: Only few people know why the arms of Christ above the city are so interestingly spread. They neither bless nor are nailed to a cross - it is said that he is ready to applaud when the inhabitants of Rio eventually start working (mostly this is claimed by the citizens of Sao Paulo).
Advice: Drink caipirinhas (almost a national drink, made of cachaca, limes, sugar, and ice); keep your eyes on your camera; and don't buy your ticket for sambadrom from street dealers, as it could be fake.
Location: south-east Brazil
Dialing code: +55
Population: 6 million
Religion: Roman Catholics 85%, Protestants 6%, other 9%
Time zone: GMT -3 (-2 in summer)
Electricity: 110 V, mostly round or flat plugs (adapters are recommended)
Visa: 30 days tourist visa costs USD 30, arranged at the Brazilian embassy in Prague
Currency: 1 Real (100 centáves) = EUR 0.314 = CZK 9.43
Where on the web?
For further information, we suggest the following websites dedicated to Rio de Janeiro:
www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/south_america/rio_de_janeiro/ - Beyond generally known, basic facts this site also offers "off the beaten tracks" tips.
www.rioforpartiers.com/ - Site mostly aimed at young people who want to have the time of their life in Rio.
http://riodejaneiroguide.com/ - Dozens of pictures, links and advice about how to make the most of your stay in Rio. www.braziltourism.org/ - The official webpage of Brazil Tourism Office, providing exhaustive advice on the entire country.
· Every February or early March, vital Rio gets even livelier with its traditional carnival. Parades of music, dance, costumes, colors and absolute freedom pull tens of thousands of visitors to the city. The four-day event started its golden tradition in the 1930s, but its roots can be found as early as the 1800s in Italy. If you don't want to wait until February, you can go to Rio in June and enjoy "Festas Juninas" - one of the most important displays of the Brazilian folklore.
· The Atlantic coast in Rio is skirted by a five-kilometre-long beach called Copacabana that never sleeps. Locals and tourists alike come here to drink, eat, sing, or enjoy some water sports. Copacabana is also the name of the quarter of Rio where the population density reaches an incredible 25,000 per km2.
·Take a funicular 400 meters up to the peak of Pčo de Aćúcar (Sugar Loaf). While you're there, enjoy the sunsets that make many who see them call Rio the most beautiful city of the world - especially if you have your caipirinha or cold beer in your hand. Here you can feel the embrace of the 30-meter-high statue of Jesus Christ near Corcovado mountain (710 m), a sight you should not miss when in Rio.
· The first Portuguese sailed to the city in January 1502. They thought it was a river so they called it Rio de Janeiro, or "January River". The name stuck and the Portuguese stayed. But Rio became the center of Brazil only in the 1700s, during the gold rush.
· The city is divided into two parts - richer Zona Sul and poorer Zona Norte. On the mountain slopes on both sides there are poor favelas representing the darker side of Rio. Visitors go there only at their own risk, as criminality and police corruption is chronic.
· Relief from the hectic city can be found in the Tijuca national park's 120 km2 of jungle, or the exquisite botanic garden (Jardim Botanico).