The Kimbles’ Guide to January’s River (Rio de Janeiro)

We’ve been in Rio now for nearly two weeks and it has definitely exceeded our expectations.  The city is unique in that it seems to have split personalities.  On the outskirts, there are beautiful beaches everywhere; closer into the city, you can find mountainous areas to hike and explore.  It’s a great blend of some of our favorite things.  To give you an idea of what to expect when you visit Rio (2016 Olympics anyone?), below is a list of some of the things the second-biggest city in Brazil has to offer:

1. Açaí (ah-sah-ee)- whether you’re a fan of this purple Amazonian superfood or a newbie looking to try it out, you won’t be disappointed.  Try an açaí bowl with fresh-cut fruit, granola, and honey either blended together or placed on top. The açaí in the states pales in comparison to the quality available here!

Açaí and pão de queijo.  What else do you need?

Açaí and pão de queijo. What else do you need?

2. Beautiful beaches– we’re staying in the Copacabana region of Rio (still haven’t seen Lola), and the beaches are absolutely tremendous.  Both the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are within walking distance of our Airbnb apartment and we highly recommend the area.  The water feels especially refreshing in the hot sun and the waves are enormous, which makes for a fun time if you like the water!

3. Charades– looking to hone your acting skills?  If you don’t speak Portuguese, this is the place for you!  We’ve had several encounters where we had no choice but to resort to gestures and pointing in order to communicate.  Karen had to simulate taking a shower to get Sofi a bath at the veterinarian, and two of our new friends from Ireland got to test their skills to purchase ear plugs at the pharmacy.  Whatever it takes to get the job done!

4. Fitness– Like many “beach cities,” this one is fully equipped with people who are passionate about fitness.  I always find it inspiring to go for a run and see hundreds of other people working out and running with me. There are even a few outdoor gyms (which are free to use!) for those of you looking to work on your pecs during your stay.

5. Pão de queijo (with catupiry cheese)- quite frankly, this is the most delicious food item we’ve eaten in all of South America.  Big statement, but it’s true.  I mean who doesn’t love soft, warm bread stuffed with oozing, warm cheese? The regular pão de queijo (baked cheese roll) is delicious on its own.  But bake it together with a Brazilian cream cheese known as catupiry?  Next level.

6.  Stellar views– with famous sites like Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, you can take in breathtaking views which overlook large areas of the city.  If you enjoy a good sunset, head to the beach and grab a seat at “aproador,” a large rock formation jutting into the Atlantic which offers 180-degree views of the horizon. There are even vendors selling beverages to enhance the experience.

Karen and I taking in the view atop Sugarloaf Mountain.

Karen and I taking in the view atop Sugarloaf Mountain.

7. The “good stuff”– if you take a seat on the beach in Copacabana, within five minutes there will be a plethora of vendors coming through to sell you things.  They offer drinks, food, umbrellas and other souvenirs.  But trust us: nobody is ever actually selling umbrellas.  If you decline them once, they will ask if you want the “good stuff.”  Maybe my beard is attracting the wrong crowd?

Check out some of our highlights from Rio in the video below!