Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The curious thing about Rio de Janeiro is that it simultaneously ranks as one of the “Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the World” and one of the “Top 10 Places You Should Visit Now.” In our opinion, you don’t need to be looking for trouble to come here—the same travel precautions you would take in any major city still apply. São Paulo felt far more dangerous because of the numerous homeless people we saw on the streets. In Rio, we stuck to the main tourist sites, avoided the favelas (slums), paid careful attention to our surroundings and never felt any more unsafe or uneasy than other places we’ve been. Well, at least until towards the end when we saw this poster on an empty street we were walking on…
If it weren’t for the fact that Portuguese is the spoken language of Brazil (our goal is to become fluent in Spanish), we would consider living in Rio for a short while. Unlike some other big cities, it didn’t feel overwhelming because the streets weren’t shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and it’s situated in the most idyllic setting between mountains and the sea. With four full days, we visited two famous beaches (Copacabana and Ipanema), Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and the neighborhood Santa Teresa. We also gorged on fresh tropical fruits, coconut juice (straight out of the coconut), pão de queijo and açaí bowls, as introduced to us by our Brazilian friend, Priscilla.
Rio is on our short list of cities to return to. We’ve met a few people on our travels who are reluctant to visit Rio flat out of fear, but it would be a shame to avoid it. Hopefully these pictures will convince them otherwise.