The Main Dishes

    The Main Dishes

    Sitting on the Turkish bed the traveler unbuttoned his shirt,
    loosened the belt, looked on the broken mirror in front of him,
    a face of tired traits, darkened, three days without shaving.
    By Brazzil Magazine

    Pepino/São Conrado

    After the Sheraton there is no beach along the coast for a few km until Pepino beach in
    São Conrado. You can also take Avenida Niemeyer to the tunnel leading to Barra da Tijuca.

    Pepino is a beautiful beach, less crowded than Ipanema. It’s where the hang-gliders
    hang out when they’re not hanging up there. Along the beach are two big resort hotels, the
    Hotel InterContinental and Hotel Nacional. Behind them, nestled into the hillside, is
    Brazil’s biggest favela, Rocinha.

    Bus No 546, 547 or 557 goes to Pepino. Don’t take valuables, as these buses are
    frequent targets of robbers. There is also an executive bus (No 2016 `São Conrado’) that
    goes along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to Pepino.

    Praia Barra da Tijuca

    The next beach out is Barra. It’s 12 km long, with clean, green water. The first few km
    are filled with bars and seafood restaurants (peixe frito is recommended). Further
    out there are only barracas (food and drink stalls) on the beach. It’s calm on
    weekdays, and crazy on hot summer weekends.

    Barra’s population has doubled in the last 10 years and it’s currently the most
    fashionable place to live in Rio. There are more than a hundred closed condominiums, and
    the area is now known as the Califórnia Carioca.

    Further Out

    The beaches further south—Prainha, Grumari, Marambaia—are very beautiful and
    worth exploring but not easily accessible by public transport. They only get busy on
    weekends when bus lines swell. All have barracas. Prainha, the next beach past
    Barra, is one of the best surfing beaches in Rio. Grumari is arguably the prettiest beach
    near the city, and there is a restaurant on the beach where the crabs are good.

    To reach these beaches by car you can turn off the Rio-Santos road, BR-101, at Barra
    and follow the beach road. If it’s a busy weekend, go a few km further and turn left at
    Estrada Bemvindo Novais, at Recreio dos Bandeirantes or Estrada Vereador.

    Maracanã

    This stadium, Brazil’s temple of soccer and a colossus among colosseums, easily
    accommodates over 100,000 people and on occasion—the World Cup Game of 1950 or
    Pelé’s last game—has squeezed in close to 200,000 crazed fans (although it’s
    difficult to see how). If you like sports, if you want to understand Brazil, or if you
    just want an intense, quasi-psychedelic experience, then by all means go see a game of futebol,
    preferably a championship game or one between rivals Flamengo (Fla) and Fluminense
    (Flu).

    Brazilian soccer is perhaps the most imaginative and exciting in the world.
    Complementing the action on the field, the stands are filled with fanatical fans who cheer
    their team on in all sorts of ways: chanting, singing and shouting; waving banners and
    streamers in team colors; pounding huge samba drums; exploding firecrackers, Roman candles
    and smoke bombs (in team colors); launching incendiary balloons; throwing toilet paper,
    beer and even dead chickens—possibly macumba inspired. The scene, in short, is
    sheer lunacy.

    Obviously, you have to be very careful if you go to Maracanã. Don’t wear a watch or
    jewelry. Don’t bring more money than you need for tickets, transport and refreshments. The
    big question is how to get to and from the game safely.

    The big games are held on Sunday at 5 pm year-round. Tourist buses leave from major
    hotels at 2.30 pm (they often run a bit late) for 5 pm Sunday games. They cost about $25,
    which is a ripoff, but it’s the safest and easiest way to get to the game. They drop you
    off and pick you up right in front of the gate and escort you to lower-level seats.
    Unfortunately this is not the best perspective for watching the game, but it is the safest
    because of the overhead covering which protects you from descending objects (like cups
    full of bodily fluids).

    However you get to the stadium, it’s a good idea to buy these lower-level seats, called
    cadeira, instead of the upper-level bleachers, called arquibancada. The
    price is $8, unless it’s a championship game, when it’s more.

    The metro is closed on Sunday, and taking a bus or cab can be a hassle, Getting to the
    stadium isn’t too difficult: catch a bus marked `Maracanã’ (from the zona sul, No
    434, 464 or 455; from Centro, No 238 or 239) and leave a couple of hours before game time.
    Returning to your hotel by bus is often a drag. The buses are flooded with passengers and
    thieves set to work on the trapped passengers. Taking a cab is a possible alternative, but
    they can be hard to flag down; the best strategy is to walk away from the stadium a bit.

    Surprisingly, driving a car to the stadium is pretty easy. You should leave a couple of
    hours before kick-off and, for easy departure, park away from the stadium. The traffic
    isn’t all that bad and if you arrive early you can watch the preliminary games.

    Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf)

    Sugar Loaf, God’s gift to the picture-postcard industry, is dazzling. Two cable cars
    lift you 1300 meters above Rio and the Baía de Guanabara. From here, Rio is undoubtedly
    the most beautiful city in the world. There are many good times to make the ascent, but
    sunset on a clear day is the most spectacular. As day becomes night and the city lights
    start to sparkle down below, the sensation is delightful.

    Everyone must go to Sugar Loaf, but if you can, avoid going from about 10 to 11 am and
    2 to 3 pm when most tourist buses are arriving.

    The two-stage cable cars (295-8244) leave about every 30 minutes from Praça General
    Tibúrcio at Praia Vermelha in Urca. They operate daily from 8 am to 10 pm and cost $8. On
    top of the lower hill there’s a restaurant/theatre. The Beija Flor samba school puts on a
    show on Monday from 9 pm to 1 am. Less touristy shows are the Friday and Saturday Carioca
    nights. They have some excellent musicians; check the local papers for listings.

    To get to Sugar Loaf take a bus marked `Urca’ from Centro and Flamengo (No 107); from
    the zona sul, take No 500, 511 or 512. The open airbus that runs along the Ipanema
    and Copacabana beaches also goes to Sugar Loaf.

    Corcovado & Cristo Redentor

    Corcovado (Hunchback) is the mountain and Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is the
    statue. The mountain rises straight up from the city to 709 meters. The statue, with its
    welcoming outstretched arms, stands another 30 meters high and weighs over 1000 tons (a
    popular song talks about how the Cristo should have his arms closed against his chest
    because for most who come to Rio the city is harsh and unwelcoming).

    The statue was originally conceived as a national monument to celebrate Brazil’s 100
    years of independence from Portugal. The 100 years came and went in 1922 without the money
    to start construction, but in 1931 the statue was completed by French sculptor Paul
    Landowski, thanks to some financial assistance from the Vatican.

    Corcovado lies within the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. You can get there by car or by
    taxi, but the best way is to go up in the cog train—sit on the right-hand side going
    up for the view. The round trip costs $11 and leaves from Rua Cosme Velho 513 (Cosme
    Velho). You can get a taxi there or a bus marked `Rua Cosme Velho’—a No 184 or 180
    bus from Centro, a No 583 from Largo Machado, Copacabana and Ipanema, or a No 584 from
    Leblon.

    During the high season, the trains, which only leave every 30 minutes, can be slow
    going. Corcovado, and the train, are open from 8 am to 6.30 pm. Needless to say, the view
    from up top is spectacular.

    Santa Teresa Bondinho

    The bondinho (little tram) goes over the old aqueduct to Santa Teresa from
    Avenida República do Chile and Senador Dantas in Centro. Santa Teresa is a beautiful
    neighborhood of cobbled streets, hills and old homes. Favelas down the hillsides
    have made this a high-crime area. Young thieves jump on and off the tram very quickly. Go,
    but don’t take valuables. Public transport stops at midnight, so you’ll need a car if you
    are going anywhere after that time.

    There’s a small Museu do Bonde at the central tram station with a history of Rio’s
    tramways since 1865 for bonde buffs. You may wonder why people choose to hang onto
    the side of the tram even when there are spare seats. It’s because they don’t have to pay.

    The Museu Chácara do Céu (224-8991), Rua Murtinho Nobre, 345 Santa Teresa, has a good
    collection of art and antiques.

    Parks & Gardens

    Parque Nacional da Tijuca

    Tijuca is all that’s left of the tropical jungle that once surrounded Rio de Janeiro.
    In 15 minutes you can go from the concrete jungle of Copacabana to the 120-sq-km tropical
    jungle of Parque Nacional da Tijuca. A more rapid and drastic contrast is hard to imagine.
    The forest is exuberant green, with beautiful trees, creeks and waterfalls, mountainous
    terrain and high peaks. Candomblistas leave offerings by the roadside, families
    have picnics, and serious hikers climb the summit of Pico da Tijuca (1012 meters).

    The heart of the forest is the Alto da Boa Vista with several waterfalls (including the
    35-meter Cascatinha Taunay), peaks and restaurants. It’s a beautiful spot. You can get
    maps at the entrance.

    The entire park closes at sunset and is rather heavily policed. Kids have been known to
    wander off and get lost in the forest—it’s that big. It’s best to go by car, but if
    you can’t, catch a No 221, 233 or 234 bus.

    The best route by car is to take Rua Jardim Botânico two blocks past the botanical
    garden (heading away from Gávea). Turn left on Rua Lopes Quintas and then follow the
    Tijuca or Corcovado signs for two quick left turns until you reach the back of the
    botanical garden, where you go right. Then follow the signs for a quick ascent into the
    forest and past the Vista Chinesa (get out for a view) and the Mesa do Imperador. Go right
    when you seem to come out of the forest on the main road and you’ll see the stone columns
    to the entrance of Alto da Boa Vista on your left in a couple of km.

    You can also drive up to Alto da Boa Vista by heading out to São Conrado and turning
    right up the hill at the Parque Nacional da Tijuca signs.

    Jardim Botânico

    Open daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, the garden was first planted by order of the prince
    regent Dom João in 1808. There are over 5000 varieties of plants on 141 hectares. Quiet
    and serene on weekdays, the botanical garden blossoms with families and music on weekends.
    The row of palms, planted when the garden first opened, and the Amazonas section with the
    lake containing the huge Vitória Régia water lilies, are some of the highlights. It’s
    not a bad idea to take insect repellent.

    The garden is on Rua Jardim Botânico 920. To get there take a `Jardim Botânico’ bus:
    from Centro, No 170; from the zona sul, No 571, 572, or 594.

    After the garden walk, go a few blocks down Rua Jardim Botânico, away from the beach,
    to Alfaces at Rua Visconde da Graça 51 for an excellent light lunch with an assortment of
    salads and good desserts at outdoor tables.

    Parque Lage

    Just a few blocks down from the Jardim Botânico at Rua Jardim Botânico 414, this is a
    beautiful park at the base of Parque Nacional da Tijuca. There are gardens, little lakes
    and a mansion, which now houses the Instituto de Belas Artes—there are often art
    shows and sometimes performances there. It’s a tranquil place, with no sports allowed and
    a favorite of families with small children. It’s open from 8 am to 5.30 pm. Take a `Jardim
    Botânico’ bus.

    Parque do Flamengo

    Flamengo is a park with loads of fields and a bay for activities and sports. There are
    three museums—Museu Carmen Miranda, Museu dos Mortos da Segunda Guerra Mundial and
    Museu de Arte Modema. Inside the park, along the bay, the Barracuda Rio restaurant
    (265-4641) is a great spot for bay and people watching. There’s a deck and tables outside
    where you can drink or eat, and inside you can get a more substantial meal. It’s also open
    for dinner.

    To get there take buses marked `Via Parque do Flamengo’: from Centro, No 125 or 132,
    and from the zona sul, No 413 or 455.

    Parque da Catacumba

    With high-rise buildings on both sides, Catacumba is on the Morro dos Cabritos, which
    rises from the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. It was the site of a favela, which was
    destroyed to make the park. A shaded park for walkers only, it’s a good place to escape
    the heat and see some excellent outdoor sculptures. At the top of the hill there is a
    great view. Catacumba also has free Sunday afternoon concerts during the summer in its
    outdoor amphitheatre featuring some of Rio’s best musicians. Check the Sunday newspaper
    for details.

    Parque da Cidade

    Up in the hills of Gávea this park is also calm and cool, and popular with families.
    Open daily from 8 am to 5.30 pm, the Museu da Cidade is in the park grounds.

    Parque do Catete

    The grounds of the old presidential palace are now the Parque do Catete, a quiet refuge
    from the city; the park has monkeys hanging from the giant trees.

    Quinta da Boa Vista

    Rio’s main park and museum of natural history makes a great Sunday outing, and if you
    want to make a day out of it, the zoo, Nordeste Fair and Maracanã soccer stadium are all
    nearby. The park is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm.

    Museums

    Museu Nacional

    This museum and its grand imperial entrance are still stately and imposing, and the
    view from the balcony to the royal palms is majestic. However, the graffitied buildings
    and unkempt grounds have suffered since the fall of the monarchy. The park is large and
    busy, and, because it’s on the north side of the city, you’ll see a good cross-section of
    Cariocas.

    The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is about $l
    (free on Thursday). There are many interesting exhibits: dinosaur fossils, saber-toothed
    tiger skeletons, beautiful pieces of pre-Columbian ceramics from the littoral and planalto
    of Peru, a huge meteorite, hundreds of stuffed birds, mammals and fish, gory displays of
    tropical diseases and exhibits on the peoples of Brazil.

    The last of these are the most interesting. Rubber-gatherers and Indians of the Amazon,
    lace workers and jangadeiro fisherfolk of the Northeast, candomblistas of
    Bahia, gaúchos of Rio Grande do Sul and vaqueiros (cowboys) of the sertão
    are all given their due. What’s interesting about these exhibits is that, with a little
    bit of effort and a lot of traveling, you can see all of these peoples in the flesh. The
    Indian exhibit is particularly good—better than that of the FUNAI Museu do Índio.

    The museum is at the Quinta da Boa Vista. To get there from Centro take the metro to
    São Cristóvão or bus No 472 or 474; from the zona sul take bus No 472 or 474 as
    well.

    Museu Nacíonal de Belas Artes

    At Avenida Rio Branco 199 is Rio’s premier fine-art museum (240-0160). There are over
    800 original paintings and sculptures in the collection. The most important gallery is the
    Galeria de Arte Brasileira, with 20th-century classics such as Cândido
    Portinari’s Café. There are also galleries with foreign art (not terribly good)
    and contemporary exhibits.

    The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 5.30 pm; and Saturday, Sunday and
    holidays from 3 to 6 pm. Photography is prohibited. Take any of the city-bound buses and
    get off near Avenida Rio Branco, or take the metro to Carioca station.

    Museu Histórico Nacional

    Restored in 1985, this former colonial arsenal (2205829) is filled with historic relics
    and interesting displays, one of the best being the re-creation of a colonial pharmacy.
    The building is near the bay at Praça Marechal Âncora.

    Museu Folclórico Edson Carneiro

    The small Edson Carneiro museum should not be missed—especially if you’re staying
    nearby in the Catete/Flamengo area. It has excellent displays of folk art—probably
    Brazil’s richest artistic tradition—a folklore library, and a small crafts store with
    some wonderful crafts, books and folk records at very cheap prices.

    The museum is next to the grounds of the Palácio do Catete. The address is Rua do
    Catete 181, Catete, and it’s open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 6 pm, and Saturday,
    Sunday and holidays from 3 to 6 pm.

    Museu da República & Palácio do Catete

    The Museu da República and the Palácio do Catete have been wonderfully restored.
    Built between 1858 and 1866 and easily distinguished by the bronze eagles on the eaves,
    the palace was occupied by the president of Brazil from 1896 until 1954, when Getúlio
    Vargas killed himself here. His bedroom, where it took place, is on display. The museum,
    which occupies the palace, has a good collection of art and artifacts from the republican
    period. It’s open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 5 pm. Admission costs $0.50.

    Museu do Índio

    At Rua das Palmeiras 55, Botafogo, the Museu do Índio (286-8799) has a good library
    with over 25,000 titles, a map and photo collection and a quiet garden. The Indian
    exhibits in the Museu Nacional at the Quinta da Boa Vista are better.

    Museu H Stern

    The headquarters of the famous jeweler H Stem, at Rua Visconde de Pirajá 490, contains
    a museum. You may find the 12-minute guided jewelry tour interesting if you’re in the
    neighborhood. With a coupon you can get a free cab ride to and from the store and anywhere
    in the zona sul.

    Museu Carmen Miranda

    The small Carmen Miranda Museum in Parque do Flamengo is across the street from Avenida
    Rui Barbosa 560 and is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday
    from 1 to 5 pm. Carmen, of course, was Hollywood’s Brazilian bombshell, although she was
    actually born in Portugal. She made it to Hollywood in the 1940s and has become a cult
    figure in Rio. During Carnaval hundreds of men dress up as Carmen Miranda look-alikes. The
    museum is filled with Carmen memorabilia and paraphernalia, including costumes, T-shirts,
    posters, postcards, records and a small exhibit.

    Museu Villa-Lobos

    This museum is in a century-old building and is dedicated to the memory of Heitor
    Villa-Lobos. This great Brazilian composer, regarded as the father of modem Brazilian
    music, was the first to combine folkloric themes with classic forms. As well as personal
    items, there’s also an extensive sound archive. At Rua Sorocaba 200 in Botafogo, it’s open
    from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5.30 pm.

    Museu de Arte Moderna

    At the northern end of Parque do Flamengo, looking a bit like an airport hangar, is the
    Modern Art Museum. Construction began in 1954, but for much of the past few years all that
    one has been able to see of the museum are its grounds, designed by Brazil’s most famous
    landscape architect, Burle Marx (who landscaped Brasília).

    The museum was devastated by a fire in 1978 which consumed 90% of its collection. The
    museum has worked hard to rebuild its collection, and today it’s the most important center
    of contemporary art in Rio, with a permanent display of over 4000 works by Brazilian
    artists.

    Museu Naval e Oceanográfico

    This museum chronicles the history of the Brazilian navy from the 16th century to the
    present, It’s close to Praça 15 de Novembro and is open every day from noon to 4.45 pm.

    Museu Naval

    In Bauru, behind the Modern Art Museum, the Naval Museum is open Tuesday to Friday from
    11.30 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5.30 pm. It documents the Brazilian
    navy’s role in WW II and has ship models.

    Museu Histórico e Diplomático

    Housed in the restored Itamaraty Palace, which was home to Brazil’s presidents from
    1889 until 1897, the museum has an impressive collection of art and antiques. Located at
    Rua Marechal Floriano 196 (a short walk from Presidente Vargas metro station), the museum
    has guided tours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 4 pm. To guarantee a tour in
    English or French, call the palace on (253-7961).

    Sambódromo & Museu do Carnaval

    Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1984, the Sambadrome also houses the Museu
    do Carnaval. It contains lots of material relating to the history of Rio’s samba schools.
    It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Enter through Rua Frei Caneca. Empty
    sambadromes are like empty stadiums—there’s not a lot happening.

    Museu Chácara do Céu

    Located at Rua Murtinho Nobre 93, Santa Teresa, this is a delightful museum that
    occupies part of the old mansion of wealthy industrialist and arts patron Raymundo Ottoni
    de Castro Maya. It contains art and antiques from his private collection, which he
    bequeathed to the nation, including works by Monet, Vlaminck, Portinari and Picasso to
    name a few. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and has a great view of Guanabara
    Bay.

    It’s open from Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 pm and on Sunday and holidays from
    1 to 5 pm. Entry is $4, free on Sunday. To get there, take the No 206 or 214 bus from the
    Menezes Cortes bus terminal in the Centro to the `Curvelo’ stop. You can take the tram,
    but don’t carry valuables.

    Museu Histórico do Exército e Forte de Copacabana

    Built in 1914, the fort preserves its original characteristics, with walls up to 12
    meters thick and fortified with Krupp cannons. The museum displays weapons, but one of the
    best reasons to visit is the fantastic view of Copacabana. The fort is open from Tuesday
    to Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm. Entry is free.

    Museu Casa do Pontal

    Owned by Frenchman Jacques Van de Beuque, this impressive collection of over 4,500
    pieces is one of the best folk-art exhibitions in Brazil. Works are grouped according to
    themes, including music, Carnaval, religion and folklore.

    The museum is located just past Barra at the Estrada do Pontal 3295. It’s open on
    weekends from 2 to 5.30 pm

    Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
    Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro,  and Robyn Jones. For more
    information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
    Used by permission.

    Buy it at
    Amazon.com

    Lonely Planet
    Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit

    by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
    Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
    704 pp.

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