Rio de Janeiro Brazil – Escaping Texas to the Southern Hemisphere

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Cow Parade art event - I Love Rio - by artist Gilson Martins - Ipanema Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Detail of artwork “I Love Rio” – by artist Gilson Martins


I had been apprehensive to travel to Rio and South America in general, mostly because I could only speak English and I felt it was necessary to speak the local language to get by in South America.

Wanderlust and the brutal heat of summer in central Texas won out over my apprehension. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I relied on my frequent flyer miles to book a trip to the Southern Hemisphere in order to escape the Texas heat in early September 2010.


Beautiful park - Nossa Senhora da Paz Square in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Nossa Senhora da Paz Square in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


I decided on Rio but nothing was available so I used 40,000 of my American Airlines frequent flyer miles to fly to São Paulo instead and took a bus to Rio after a couple of nights in São Paulo.

Brazil is known for comfortable bus transport and I enjoyed the 4 hour trip chatting with my Brazilian seatmate – we used my Brazilian/Spanish dictionary to look up the words.


Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro - a short walk to the km long Copacabana beach

Ipanema beach where I enjoyed my morning walks in Rio de Janeiro


September is off-season for Rio since it is still officially winter. Temperatures can range anywhere from chilly to pleasant and it was pleasant most of my visit with one cold windy rainy day. Average temps in September are 19 – 26 Celsius (73 – 79 F)


Palm trees along 4km Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Palm trees along Copacabana beach in Rio


It’s a nine-hour flight from Dallas to São Paulo but it was overnight so I slept most of the time and was able to avoid jet lag. I’m lucky that I am able to sleep on the plane – I know many people have difficulty sleeping while flying.


Beach promenade - Ipanema neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Beach promenade – Ipanema neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro Brazil


I enjoyed my walks on the beach every morning and I walked the 4 km length of Copacabana beach one day with some new friends. My sister-in-law who is from Peru introduced me via email to a friend of hers from Peru who was living in Rio.

I met Fiorella and her husband Rodrigo for beers one night. Fiorella also invited me to spend an afternoon enjoying lunch and walking along Copacabana beach. And they invited me to dinner at their apartment one night! Fiorella and Rodrigo were so kind to me and generous with their time.


View of Rio de Janeiro Brazil from Corcovado

Beautiful Rio de Janeiro with both mountains and the sea – gorgeous view from Corcovado


Rio is a beautiful city with an ocean as well as mountains right up to the coast. It does get excessively hot and humid in the summer months – late December through to February. The heat doesn’t stop people from visiting for New Year’s Eve celebrations and Carnival – as many as 2 million people flock to Copacabana beach to celebrate.


Havaianas brand flip flops on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Havaianas – made in Brazil – the best flip flops ever!


The beach promenade along Copacabana features a wave pattern designed by Roberto Burle Marx who was a prominent landscape artist, musician, and ecologist in Brazil.


Mosaic Copacabana promenade wave pattern designed by Roberto Burle Marx - Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Copacabana mosaic promenade wave pattern designed by Roberto Burle Marx


Fresh coconut water - Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Enjoying a break along Copacabana beach to enjoy fresh coconut water – super refreshing!


Sand sculpture wizard and his castle - Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Sand sculpture wizard and his castle – Copacabana beach


When I started reading the travel guides for Rio they all warned about getting mugged in Rio – so much so that I was a little nervous about wandering around on my own. I began to think it was inevitable that I would be mugged, robbed at knife point or attacked in some manner.

I am happy to report that I was not mugged, robbed, nor attached in Rio de Janeiro. The closest I came to being robbed was being ripped off my the fruit vendor in Ipanema!

I know crime is a big problem in Ro and other big cities but it is not in every part of the city and I felt safe walking around during the daytime and taking the subway around Rio. It felt like any other big city where there are plenty of places that it is advisable to stay away from during the daytime or night.

I recommend always taking taxis at night when in an unknown neighborhood. Around my neighborhood in Ipanema I walked to close-by restaurants in the evenings and felt safe doing so.

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) watches over Rio de Janeiro. The 40 meter tall statue of Jesus sits atop Corcovado in Parque Nacional da Tijuca. The view of Rio from atop the mountain is outstanding!


Cristo Redentor flocked by tourists - Corcovado - Tijuca National Park Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Cristo Redentor flocked by tourists – Corcovado – Tijuca National Park


Brazil is a country rich in minerals. While in Rio I visited H Stern jewelers at the Ipanema location where they have a small museum with various mineral on display.

I could walk to H Stern from the hostel but H Stern offers free transportation to/from the showroom – you’ll need to attend a short tour and be shown some gorgeous jewelry afterwards with no pressure to buy. I viewed several sparkly gems but I’m not much of a shopper so I didn’t buy anything.


Minerals at museum of Bi-color Tourmaline - H Stern jewelers Ipanema location - Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Bi-color Tourmaline – H Stern jewelers Ipanema location


Brazil will host World Cup 2014 in June and Rio hosts the Summer Olympics in 2016. Although Brazil has made great strides at reducing poverty with their Bolsa Familia program there is a long way to go and I am hopeful that these major events assist in generating income for the regular folks in Brazil.

I don’t plan to visit Rio during the major events but I am looking forward to returning to Rio again to see more of the beautiful city. I do love Rio!


Rio de Janeiro Brazil street art - Ipanema neighborhood

Rio de Janeiro Brazil street art – Ipanema neighborhood


Where would you like to travel in order to escape the weather where you live?


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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

11 Replies

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  1. You made Rio sound inviting and quite beautiful.
    The beaches are gorgeous.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nonnie says:

    wow, Brazil itself is gorgeous, and so is the art you shared! seeing Ipanema Beach sparked the song “Girl from Ipanema” whirling around in my head.

    • I love that song! I have a Stan Getz CD with a fantastic version of The Girl From Ipanema sung by Astrud Gilberto and featuring Joao Gilberto on guitar/vocals, and Stan Getz playing tenor sax – I have listened to it dozens and dozens of times – one of my favorite CD’s ever!

  3. ellen b says:

    I’m so impressed with your solo travels. Hats off to you. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but our daughter’s maid of honor has been traveling around the world for a year now and has made it to South America. She says she’ll return to the Pacific Northwest once she learns Spanish. I’ll be following the World Cup because I’m a huge soccer fan. Great post for R!

    • Traveling around the world for a year would be amazing! Such a great experience! I know people that have a little trouble adjusting when they get back – but it’s so worth it! I’m looking forward to World Cup too – although I am not an avid fan I enjoy all the excitement surrounding the matches.

      During 2010 World Cup I was attending a classical guitar concert in Austin and Pepe Romero, the classical guitar player was sitting in the row behind me telling stories – we talked about World Cup – and he said he was going to wear a Spanish jersey under his tux the next night when he performed to bring good luck for Spain :)
      I was happy to see Spain win the cup in 2010!

  4. one of the must see places in the world, maybe someday with God’s grace.

  5. Leovi says:

    Nice pictures! Yes, I love to visit Rio de Janeiro!

  6. Cris says:

    Your pics are amazing! I just love love that beach :x

  7. I’d surely like to go!


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