Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Rio tips

I've probably spent a total of 3 weeks in Rio but want to share the love.

Azumi - voted best sushi restaurant in Rio last year. Very traditional and not the same vibe as you will get in Sushi Leblon but the food was fantastic, and I say that even as my daughters were throwing soy sauce dishes around the room (= 2 big bottles of sake for the parents). Octopus carpaccio to-die-for, even stopped my one year old in her throwing frenzy. Introduced my husband to chawanmushi too.

Copacabana Palace Hotel - in my recent post about Rio vs Sampa I talk about how much I despise Copacabana. But this was a special treat. We were upgraded since we had 2 kids that would not fit in a standard room. It was a rainy weekend too, all the more better for hanging out in the bathtub. The service was generally good aside from the one evening I ordered buttered pasta for the girls and it took over an hour. We were given a couple of free g&t's. The non-Brazilian guests are a stark contrast to the staff and the locals outside the hotel. Try saying hello to a snobby 50 year old in the lift with your cute (?) little kid... feels like -50 C. Pool is not made for children but there is a secret pool on the 6th floor. It was in renovation the weekend we were staying so the only guests were some disease-ridden pigeons but definitely worth sneaking up to the next time you are around the block.

Porcao - I know this is really touristy but at the same time it's full of cariocas. And the third bonus is the kids playroom. Go a little earlier (around 12:30) to get a table right next to the kids room which is for 4 - 8 year olds but you can still the younger ones accompanied. My other favourite is brunch at Parque Laje (next to the Botanical Gardens), there is a giant pool which is so kid-friendly but it's such a beautiful setting that it's almost worth running after them.

Lagoa - we spent a cloudy afternoon at one of leisure areas around the Lagoon with the girls. There's a small play area, trampolines, popcorn, restaurants (the arabic one is supposed to be good but I've only had a drink here) and pedalos. Sophie of course chose the pink swan. Running / bike track all around the Lagoon as well if you're bored of looking at the beach.

Get a babysitter in. Head to Lapa for some street drinking, market food (hot dogs and popcorn) and of course. We went to Santa Teresa in the hope of heading to either the recommended Aprazivel (Amazonian food with great views) or Tereze at Santa Teresa Hotel. We ended up at the library up the stairs (you can see it up from the bus stop) where there was live samba music, tall beers for R6 and entry was only R5. It was one of the nights when I'm reminded about how much I love being here in Brazil.

Found a new restaurant called Rústico, climb up the stairs past the closed café to an alfresco dining área surrounded by trees looking beautiful with uplights. Food was ok but think the ambience certainly made up for it (don’t order the warmed brie starter, what was I thinking?).

The tram up to Santa Teresa hás been closed due to some horrible accidents which caused the deaths of more than 6 tourists. You can jump in a cab day or night; during the day I would walk back down via Selaron’s stairs but at night it can be a pain to get a taxi if you are there quite late. Keep it in mind!

Bar Astor in São Paulo is one of my favourite places for a late night file mignon sandwich and one of their speciality caiprinhas. I say “specialty” only because I ask them to make me something special and surprise me! It’s sister restaurant opened in Rio a few years ago which is close to beachfront as you can get on Ipanema (across the road). Try and get there before 12:30 to get a table on the front pátio. Boullaibaise might not be what you are feeling like on a steamy hot Sunday but once you’ve cooled off with a couple of chopps, worth every centavo.

This is all without even going to see Jesus, Sugarloaf or just hanging out at the beach all day.

More secret tips on Rio from a fellow blogger ny2rio.com

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