With the Summer Olympics coming on, Rio de Janeiro is more popular than ever. With beautiful beaches and a vivacious flavor, it’s no wonder why this amazing city attracts millions of visitors each year. Rio is a fantastic destination and a favorite port-of-call of many a cruise ship—but do you know everything there is to know about the Cidade Maravilhosa? Here are 10 things we’re sure you didn’t know:
1. The River of January. Rio de Janeiro translates to “River of January” in Portuguese, the month that it was discovered by Portugal. That said, locals are called Cariocas, a word that derives from kara’i oka (in the indigenous Tupi tongue, “white man’s house”).
2. There are more than 30 miles of beaches in Rio. Rio’s beaches are world-renowned for their clean and soft sand, and so conveniently accessible from most hotels and hostels. Along the beach you’ll also find a plethora of rental tents and chairs, wet trails, free showers, bars and cafes. Soak in the sun at Copacabana and Ipanema, the more popular of the beaches. You can practice your surfing skills or down a sanduíche natural, a cold sandwich with vegetables and mayo. Prefer to avoid the crowd? Opt for Leblon, the quieter sister beach but equally as beautiful.
3. The city is divided into three zones. The Zona Norte, the older Centro and the beach-lined Zona Sul. n the North, you’ll find a few monuments of note, like the Zoo, National Museum and the Observatory. In the Center, you’ll find the historic churches, monuments and squares at the city’s old waterfront. The South is where you’ll find the bulk of its famous beaches: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon.
4. The city’s drink of choice is the Cafezinho. The cafezinho is a popular welcome drink in Brazil, and are often imbibed at work, in the home, and sophisticated boutiques. The minute you walk into any door, don’t be surprised if someone asks you “você quer um cafezinho?” (Do you want a cafezinho?) When in Rome! Do as the Brazilians do and pair a cafezinho (little espresso) with a pão de queijo (cheese bread). There’s an excellent café in Leblon called Cafeína to do just that.
5. The Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, was created in 1918 as a cure for the Spanish flu. Cachaça, hard liquor distilled from sugarcane, is blended with sugar and lime to create the masterful and succulent Caipirinha. The name originates from the word caipira, or “hillbilly.”
6. It took 9 years to complete Christ the Redeemer. Finished in 1931 on Mt. Corcovado’s peak, it’s become the cultural icon for both Rio and Brazil. Pre-10AM is the best time to check out the statue—best to avoid the queues and crowds—so hop in a taxi your first morning in Rio. It has been dubbed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
7. “The Girl from Ipanema” was inspired from an actual girl. Songwriters Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes teamed up to write the lyrics to the song when they were struck by the beauty of a seventeen-year-old girl named Heloísa.
Interested in Brazil and Beyond? Call us up for a chat about South American Travel! Call 503-224-0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Nicholas Bittencourt, Christian Haugen, Diego f. Garcia and Deni Williams.