Rio de Janeiro

As a tropical resort, Rio de Janeiro is a magnificent site to behold, with its dazzling wide beaches and magnificent bay on one side, and surrounded by the abruptly rising Sugarloaf Mountain ridges and tropical forest on the other. An incomparable hedonist beach colony, the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city) is one of the most densely populated places on earth, and home to the world’s most famous beach, Copacabana Beach. Jam packed with stunning views of thongs, topless nymphos, and overlooked by the infamous open armed Christ statue looking down with tears in his eyes (and binoculars).

Rio de Janeiro Photo Gallery

The 3-mile Copacabana beach on weekends has some 7 million Cariocas enjoying fun in the sun, beach sports, and socializing about the upcoming evening’s festivities. Your entire vacation itinerary can be fulfilled within walking distance of this location, with its restaurants and cafes, movie theatres, bars, massage parlors, chicas, chicas, and more chicas. This is a 24/7 sin city, and possibly the most satisfying stop on your tour.

Rio is renowned for two colossal events, the infamous Carnaval, which begins midnight the Friday before Ash Wednesday and lasts five days. (The next year’s starting date is Feb 5 2005). The legendary New Year’s Eve & Festa de Iemanja is the second most important event on the city’s calendar. Nowhere else in the world can you observe two million white-clad people gathering in a setting as breathtaking as Copacabana beach. The velvety summer sky is the backdrop to one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks displays, with hours of fireworks exploding in the glittering sky. On the sand, white-robed believers light thousands of candles and toss flowers as offerings to Iemanja, queen of the waters, all to an irresistible Brazilian beat. December 31 at midnight on Copacabana Beach is a magical moment every year. Thrilling, unforgettable and incomparable, it truly reflects all the facets of Rio.

Climate :

Rio is in the tropics; heavy rains come quick and hard. Opposite seasons of the US, summer is Dec-Mar, a range from 75 to 105 degrees…rain season is in the summer. Winter temperature is mild…65-85 degrees.

Entry Requirements :

From the US, passport and temporary visa are required. The visas are 1 to 5 years long, get the longer. There’s an office in Houston and NYC, obtainable by mail, takes about 2 weeks. After acquiring the visa you must enter Brazil within 90 days for the visa to be validated. $100+ Here’s the Brazil link for info.

The airport departure tax in Brazil is currently $36.00 USD. It can be paid in US dollars or the equivalent in local currency.(Real)

Airport to Hotel-Taxis :

After immigration and customs, it’s time for your taxi. Like most airports, the scammer cab touts will immediately attack you. Here, they have uniforms and look real official. Pass them up, they charge double. You have two choices, negotiate a cab for a slightly lesser cost, which may not have AC, or take the radio cab with AC. The drivers of both do not speak English; a good rule of thumb is to write the hotel name on some paper. The cheapest choice is a yellow cab with a meter waiting in the streets. The Copacabana ride is about $30 reais. AC in cab is more. If you hate hassles, the fastest choice is to look for the radio cab booths, of which there are 5…look for women flagging you down. You pre-pay about $45 reais for a one-way trip, you can buy round trip now as well. All of these cabs have AC. These cabs accept US dollars as well. It’s $5 more, but why start a trip with a nightmare cabbie. Depending on the time you arrive and the traffic, your travel time to Copacabana or Ipanema should be about 45 minutes. Buses called frescao run by Empresa Real are parked curbside outside customs at the airport and make the same trip for about $5 US. They are an hour long+ trip into the city. The buses follow the beachfront drives and stop at all the hotels along the way. If your Hotel is inland, the bus driver will let you off at the nearest corner. Around the beach, some taxis charge by the meter, others charge flat rates. Ask for all details first.

Electricity :

The Electricity is 110 V and 60 Hz. You may need an adapter. The outlets take round or Hat plugs, not the flat plug with 1 prong wider than the other. Computer outlets are normal, but modem connections could pose a problem.

Money Matters :

Real is the local currency. REAL, pronounced (hey-ALL), or the plural REAIS, pronounced (hey-ICE), Bill denominations are R$100, R$50, R$10, R$5 and R$1 bills. Currently around 3.00 to $1. This is a huge value, as it was worth just 2 years ago around 2-$l. (the Real was floated back in the beginning of 1999.) Cabs only take reais. Banks tend to give lousy conversion rates; the best conversion is ATM’s. In Copacabana, next to the Blockbuster is one on Ave. Copacabana. AMEX has offices at the airport and or Avenida Atlantica, which handle traveler’s checks, but expect a lousy exchange rate. For late night cash, Help Disco on the beach will exchange US $100 a day. Make sure you have plenty of $R10’s and $R5’s. On weekends it’s very hard to find anyone to make change, or convert money to Reais. Hand a taxi a $50R and he won’t be able to break it.

Recommended Restaurants :

Since this info can change weekly, we can’t recommend enough the “Zagat Survey.” Pick up their travel book, or signup online. Worldwide reviews, menus, and pricing.

Tipping :

At restaurants a 10% tip is usually included. Give a little more only if service was especially good. Taxi drivers do not expect big tips, and extra R$1 is fine. Bellboys and hotel maids expect to get at least R$l. Tips to bartenders are zero to whatever.

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