Rio de Janeiro

When Brazilians say “Deus e Brasileiro” (God is Brazilian), some of Rio’s citizens probably think, “Deus e Carioca” (God is a Rio-dweller). Blessed by the gods, Rio de Janeiro is a city of natural and cultural riches. Its setting is spectacular: 37 white-sand beaches fronting blue sea with lush green peaks rising up around them. On the streets, Rio’s energy is blazing?

One typical Friday night reveals the city at her most vibrant: in Lapa, samba spills out of old colonial buildings as revelers dance in the streets. Just around the corner, a long stretch of antique shops double as jazz spots, with bossa-nova infused sounds filling warmly lit 19th-century mansions.

As night turns into day, and the first light of dawn illuminates Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado, another brand of Carioca is taking over the streets. Early morning exercisers move swiftly along the palm-lined shore to the backdrop crashing waves. Out in the water, a handful of surfers and swimmers greet the morning rays as the sun rises from the sea. Other Cariocas are packing gear for rock-climbing the face of P?o de A??car (Sugarloaf), while a few explore old Atlantic rainforest trails.

By mid-day, the trendy boutiques of Ipanema fill with shoppers while restaurants all over the city serve heaps of feijoada ? the traditional meal of black beans and pork stew. Caipirinhas (cacha?a-fueled cocktails) and chope (draft beer) flow in abundance (another tradition) as Cariocas hash out the previous night or plan the one ahead.

Five hundred years young, even at its most brash, Rio clings to its traditions. The world’s largest party is no exception. When Carnaval’s bacchanalian spirit descends upon the city in late summer (February or March) Rio and her 7 million inhabitants transforms. Parties flare throughout Rio all night long for at least four days straight.

From Lonely Planet?s new guide to Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro
4th Edition ? out August 2004
ISBN 1 74104 146 5
224 pages, 16 pages colour, 50 maps
A$ 29.90

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