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Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 | 19 comments

Brazil’s Dusty Azure: Day 1 (Scene 1)

Note: Dusty Azure is the name of a type of butterfly.

Brazil made me believe in travel miracles.

At the beginning of the year, I was still trying to decide where to go.  I kid you not when I say that one evening I sat down and started to look for plane tickets prices to a lot of capitals in South America and Europe. The prices for Brazil weren’t looking that bad.  Then, I had a bright idea (ahem!!).  I decided to take a look at where I was able to go using my accumulated miles. Let me say I have never had luck exchanging my miles for a ticket.  So, I was kind of surprised when I found out I was able to get a free ticket to Rio de Janeiro.  I called the airline reservations number and an agent confirmed I was able to get the free ticket.  So, I got one and bought another one.  What a blessing! I still cannot believe I went to Brazil in a sort of BOGO offer.

Well, let’s talk about first impressions.  What I discovered when looking at Rio de Janeiro for the first time.

First, it was good to experience the kindness of the people after a long red eye flight.  After 11 hours of flight time, we arrived to Rio de Janeiro more than tired (American Airlines legroom sucks).  I didn’t want to pay a lot of money to get to the beach area (where we were staying).  A friendly lady explained how to get a bus to the Zona Sul (the beach part of the city).  Once in Copacabana, we got lost. Yes, lost in Rio!!.  But again,the locals were willing to help.  The owner of a store called the hotel to get directions.  He explained me how to get to the place and voila, we found our hotel in a cinch.  So, friendly and cool people, checked.

Even though I felt tired, I was ready to explore after dropping the luggage at the hotel.

We started by having a snack at a corner store.  That is where I had my first taste of passion fruit juice.  I didn’t even remember when was the last time I had a tasteful passion fruit juice.  I started to like the city.  I don’t know. Maybe it was love at first sight.

What else I noticed?

The black and white, wavy pattern of Copacabana’s sidewalk is truly pretty.

Copacabana's Sidewalk


The favelas are really close to the beach.  And when I say close, I mean close.

Favelas Behind Copacabana


Not everything that looks like a mansion on the top of a mountain is a mansion.  My camera zoom revealed the mountain was Sugarloaf and the mansion was the cable car station.

Sugarloaf seen from Copacabana


And then, there is a guy that watches over the city.  He is everywhere.

Christ The Redeemer Statue seen from Copacabana


One thing that I don’t really understand is why in Rio a continuous strand of beach has different names.  For example, I was staying near the division of Leme and Copacabana.  It looked like one beach to me but well, there should be some logic behind this entire naming thing.

So, to one side, I was able to take a look at Leme Beach.

Leme Beach


And the other side was occupied by the world famous Copacabana Beach.

Copacabana Beach


In this first walk next to the beach, I chose to explore the Leme side.  The beach takes its name from the Morro do Leme.  Morro means promontory or hill.  Take note since Rio is full of morros and they are the ones responsible of its unmatched beauty.

Morro do Leme


Cafe near Morro do Leme with Sugarloaf peaking in the distance


Part of the morro is surrounded by a walkway.  From there, I was able to admire the first impressive view of the beach (just one from the many ones I had the opportunity to witness).  Take a look below.  That is Copacabana in its entire splendor.  Beautiful blue waters, white sand, cafes and high rises lining the beach.  Plus, you can see all those morros popping up in the distance (see what I was talking about). Hey, try to spot Corcovado in the photo shown below.

View of Copacabana Beach from Morro do Leme


Me in front of Copacabana Beach


A few hours in Rio made me understand why many consider it the most beautiful city in the world.  A lot of places are famous for its monuments, ruins, buildings or well-designed urban life.  All those are great to experience but they were created by man.  In Rio, natural beauty reigns and nobody can compete with what was created by God.  This area in its natural state has enough splendor to draw people.  The landscape is unique (just look at all those rocks standing tall all over the place).

Fishing at Morro do Leme


Another View of Copabana Beach


What do you think about my first peek at Rio de Janeiro?  Have you been here? What came to your mind when you were able to admire the city for the first time?


  1. I almost made Rio the first stop on my round the world trip, but in the end opted for somewhere completely different. This post has me regretting it a bit!
    Scott recently posted..My Dia De Los Meurtos in MexicoMy Profile

    • A lot of people on RTWs do not include Rio. I guess it is because of the prices. However, it is a city worth to visit.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

  2. When I traveled first for Orlando in 2006 I also got lost. It took me 3 hours to arrive at my hotel. It was very funny but worth it! Congratulations for your blog *)

    • I always get lost. I can’t think of a time when everything have gone perfectly. I see it normal now.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

  3. I travelled to Brasil 3x in early 2000. I was lucky to be able to spend time in Rio de Janeiro. The people are so friendly in Brasil. Enjoying a Caipirinha on the beach, or at any open air restaurant was great. I also loved getting freshly made espresso. The coffee is so fresh, you can sometimes see an oily sheen on the top of the coffee, AND to have that with freshly baked pao de queche, the small round cheese buns. I keep thinking about how much I’d love to go back there. Keep blogging about your experiences there. Abracos.
    Karl @mywinepal recently posted..Help Me Plan a Trip to Argentina For YouMy Profile

    • I agree with everything you say. The people are really firendly and willing to help. The juices, the coffee and the fried goodies sold at every corner were great. I will really like to go back.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

  4. This was wonderful to read, since I was in Rio once, a long time ago. Your descriptions and photos brought back my own memories and it all looked so familiar.

    I love the way you ended up in Rio! So, enjoy and keep writing. (I found you through TBEX)

    • Hi,
      Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the post. Ohh, the way we feel when memories come back to us. I will be writing a lot more about Rio so stay tuned.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

    • John,
      There is no physical division between the beaches. Copacabana and Leme are pretty local (in my opinion). Ipanema is different.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

    • Wait till you see my pictures of going to the top of Corcovado. The view was awesome.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

  5. I’ve never had much luck exchanging my airline miles for international flights either. I hope I get as lucky as you and I’m able to cash mine in for South America next year! Brazil looks amazing. I feel like it’s somewhat common to have a million different beach names right next to each other. I bet there are even more names according to the surfers. 🙂
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Travel Shot: The Intriguing Life of a SadhuMy Profile

    • Christy,
      With the price of airfare nowadays, I felt so relieved when I was able to get that flight for free. The beach naming thing is crazy. Would like to know who started all that. The surfers are on the Ipanema side. Well, it is not called Ipanema. It is called Arpoador but it is in the same strand as Ipanema.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

    • Hey Stephanie,
      Since you are in Buenos Aires, it would be cool to stop a little bit in Rio. However, I believe a flight is not that cheap even though it is not a long flight. Plus, you have to plan for Rio prices.
      Ruth recently posted..Cenotes ExtravaganzaMy Profile

  6. I just spent almost two weeks in Rio and it was fantastic! Looks like you had better weather than me though. Love the pics.


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