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Rio de Janeiro

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Rio De Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil , the largest country in the continent of South America . Brazil is a country of contrasts. The dark Amazon jungles, the breathtaking beaches, the captivating and colorful festivals as well as the tropical rain forests and impressive mountains compete for attention from the tourists.

Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for almost two centuries. The literal translation of the word "Rio de Janeiro" is "River of January" a name given to the city by the Portuguese. Popularly called Rio , it is also known as "The Marvelous city".

The average annual temperature is 23C(73.5F) although the temperature in Rio may range from the low 23C(60F) to 40C(104F). Near the beaches, the temperature is cooler because of the cool sea breezes.

The city has a historic downtown called Centro which is also the financial district. The beach area is known as South Zone (Zona Sul). Locals live mostly in the North Zone (Zona Norte) and the West Zone.

There are over six million residents in Rio . The city is about 1,269km (500sqmi)large and inhabited by people called Cariocas. The main language spoken here is Portuguese.

History
The Guanabara Bay, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro was discovered by Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos and others in January of 1502. They named it River of January or Rio de Janeiro . The Europeans including French smugglers and Swiss Calvinists settled around the area until 1557. The city of Rio de Janeiro was created spanning the area at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain to the coast and remained the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960. Until the early 20th century, the city of Rio was more of less confined to the historic downtown business district. Later, the city sprawl reached the Copacabana and other coastal areas with the help of tunnels that were built under the mountains.

History
Rio was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese and used as fortification against French privateers who mainly trafficked wood from Brazil . The Portuguese fought the French for nearly 10 years, both sides having rival native tribes as allies. For the next two centuries it was an insignificant outpost for Portuguese Empire, until gold, diamonds, and ore were found in Minas Gerais in 1700s. Then, as the nearest port, Rio became the exit for the mineral wealth and replaced Salvador as the main city in the colony in 1763. When Napoleon invaded Portugal , the Royal Family moved to Brazil and made Rio capital of the Kingdom becoming the only city outside Europe to be capital of a European country.

AIRPORT
Rio's international airport is situated on the Ilha do Governador, 60 minutes from Rio 's major hotels and has excellent access. Galao airport is served by 28 international carriers and all the Brazilian airlines offering direct flights to-and-from more than 80 international.A shuttle service operates between Rio and São Paulo and is based at Rio 's downtown city center airfield, Santos Dumont.

CLIMATE
Rio de Janeiro is a tropical city. Summer officially begins in December and runs through to March with temperatures ranging from 25º C (77º F) to 42º C (108º F) and is also the rainy season with frequent torrential falls throughout the season. Winter runs from June through to August when temperatures can drop to around 20º C (68º F) in the day and a cool 16º C (60º F) at night. Winter is dry.

LOTHING
Fashionable casual dress is the norm in Rio , where the climate is mild and warm even in the winter months.

Although winter months have days where cold weather jackets are necessary, mostly short sleeves and light clothing is appropriate. During working hours suits and ties and women in smart dresses is the accepted fashion.

COMMUNICATIONS
Rio has an excellent telecommunications system linking Rio to the rest of Brazil and the world. Direct dial and collect calls can be placed from any telephone. The International Direct Dial (IDD) code for Brazil is 55 and the city code for Rio de Janeiro 21.

ELECTRIC CURRENT
The electric current in Rio is 110 or 120 volts, 60 cycles, with most large hotels operating both.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE
The Brazilian monetary unit is the Real (R$)with both commercial and tourist exchange rates easily available to visitors in banks, exchange houses and hotels. All major credit cards are accepted in Brazil and some stores even Us dollars and euros. ATM machines are used frequently.

RIO TOURIST POLICE
As a preventive tactic to combat crime prominently directed at tourists, a battalion of the Rio de Janeiro State Military Police, ­ BPTUR, was created to patrol important tourist spots of the city for the protection of the tourist. Specifically trained and equipped, this police force focuses on the beach areas and the vicinity of the hotels.

MEDICAL SERVICES
Due to very expensive medical treatment visitors are strongly advised to take out medical trip insurance before traveling to Brazil , however Rio de Janeiro has a number of internationally respected hospitals, clinics and doctors.

TIPPING
Although hotels, restaurants and bars generally include a 10% service charge on the bill, tips are discretionary with the norm being 10 per cent.  

CUSTOMS
Besides accompanying clothing and personal belongings tourists entering Brazil are allowed to buy merchandise at the airports' duty free shops. Seeds and plants in general bare prohibited.

VISA REQUIREMENTS
The Brazilian Foreign Office bases its actions on reciprocity, therefore most visitors from foreign countries will require a visa, except from South American continent countries. Visas can usually be processed within two working days by applying to the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. Requirements for a tourist visa include a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, one passport size photograph, a round trip ticket, sufficient funds and bookings for accommodation during stay.

GETTING THERE
Rio de Janeiro International Airport:
Runways: 2 ( 4,8 km each)
Terminals: 2 (144.000 sq.m each)
Gates: 12 (International: 7 Domestic: 5)
Capacity: 15 million pax/year; 520 flights p/day
About 20 minutes from main hotels.

GETTING AROUND

BY TAXIS
Rio has an extensive taxi fleet which includes yellow metered cabs which can be hailed in the streets, as well as a series of special taxis operated by licensed companies which can be found at the airports, hotels or booked by phone. 

There are a number of possibilities to get around in this big city. You can either choose from different types of buses, use the efficient metro, hire taxis or rent a car .

BY BOAT
To get to Niteroi which is Rio 's nearest neighboring city, take the ferry at Praca 15 (city center)
The ride takes about 20 minutes by the conventional ferries, 15 by the new one and 10 by the air conditioned catamaran. Excellent photo opportunities are available on this crossing.
Departure place for the ferry to the isle of Paqueta - a nearby island suburb with no vehicles and well worth a visit.

BY BUS
Buses are the cheapest means of transportation. The front of the bus lists the main destinations and the sides the main route.
The higher price fare are normally air-conditioned and more comfortable (look for the words "Ar Condicionado" written on the front side). Several of these run along the major beachfront avenues in Ipanema and Copacabana.

BY METRO

The Metro is a very efficient way of going from one place to another. It is air conditioned and clean. There are two lines.  Metro-Bus Integrated Services make the connection to Ipanema (Praca N.S da Paz, Praca General Osorio), Leblon (Jardim de Alah; Praca Antero de Quental) and Gavea (PUC).

ENTERTAINMENT

Restaurantes
Rio has restaurants to suit every taste and budget. Eating out is a major attraction with the "Cariocas" themselves so the range is extensive. The traditional Brazilian, barbecue, the churarraco is widely popular. The famous Brasilian Feijoada is a typical "Carioca" dish consisting of a tasty stew of black beans and pork pieces, served with a number of side dishes, including sliced oranges,  cold cuts, farofa (stir-fried manioc flour), couve (thinly sliced kale)

As a former ex Portugal colony, Brasil has maintained many influences of this country on its culinary. Portuguese or Norwegian codfish is also another speciality to be enjoyed in Rio , prepared in the truly Portugese manner: egg, olives, potaoes layered and baked with the best olive oil.


Traditional eateries:
- Casa da Feijoada , Ipanema.
Churrascaria
Marius
Porcão
Carretão

- Portugese
CBF Restaurant

- Seafood
Azul Marinho
Arpoador,
Siri Mole & Cia

- Brasilian Regional Food: Minas Gerais
À Mineira

- Guimas
-   Bracarense
- Confeitaria Colombo Café
-Copacabana Palace Hotel

Eventually became a symbol of Rio , as the favorite of artists, politicians, businessmen and international celebrities.

NIGHTLIFE
Whether you enjoy a post-soccer beer at a beach kiosk, watch a band at one of the live music venues or treat yourself to a cocktail at one of the city's number of trendy bars and clubs, a night out in Rio is a truly unique experience. There is a diverse range of bars and nightclubs available. You will find choperias (plain but pleasant bars) as well as gay bars, discos, samba clubs, bars playing live Brazilian music and old-fashioned ballroom dance halls. Bars and lounges usually ask for a small charge on the door. Beer is generally served throughout the day and you will find that many corner bars that open out onto the streets are particularly popular with the locals. Many bars and pubs have happy hours for people returning home from work or from a day at the beach and will often also serve snacks and small meals. However, the real action does not start until around 23:00, when the clubs open.

  • Melt (pronounced meelch by locals) - Leblon, Rua Rita Ludolf 47A -.
  • Bombar Leblon,.
  • Fosfobox Copacabana - Rua Siqueira Campos, 143.
  • Casa da Matriz Botafogo - Rua Henrique Novaes, 126
  • Dama de Ferro Ipanema - Rua Vinicius de Moraes, 288.

Lapa - is famous for its Thursday nights. Great several bars and clubs, but the main party is in the street where you will find people dancing and playing Samba, Choro (soft rhythm with flutes and mandolin), Reggae and Hip Hop, and gafieira .

THEARTE & MUSIC

MUSIC
Rio was the cradle of three of Brazil most important musical genres: samba, choro, and bossa nova.
Rio has a strong and historical theatre tradition. The performing arts season runs from April to December and also includes many street theater productions. The bi-lingual paper, Rio Guia, has an extensive listing of productions. One of the three main theatres in the city is the Municipal Theatre, which is located in down town Rio city. This is Brazil 's premier venue for concerts and shows. The Rival Theatre, which is a small theatre, features performances by some of Brazil 's best undiscovered acts. The Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil offers various cultural shows. The Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira and the Orquestra do T eatro Municipal are at the forefront of Rio 's musical world. Jazz nights are held in numerous venues throughout the city where Bossa Nova shows are the most enjoyed.

FESTIVALS
Rio de Janeiro is home to the most famous carnival in the world attracting hundreds of thousands of people every year to experience the ultimate party. The carnival is held every 40 days before Easter to celebrate the entrance of Lent, lasts for four days, when the city delights in a daytime of fancy dress parades and 4 nights of a mass of colour, music and dancing with the samba school parades bringing to together their loyal followers by the thousands to parade in their rich costumes down the specially Oscar Neiymeyer designed venue, the Sambodomo.

Other events held throughout the year include:

  • New Year's celebrations in Rio are ranked among the best in the world. The city stages musical performances throughout the city as well as a finale of impressive fireworks. People celebrating on Copacabana Beach dress up in white to honor the goddess of the sea Imanja, biding farewell to one year and welcoming the new.
  • The June Bonfire Festival, Sao Joao (St Joao) celebrates Brazilian folklore with bonfire festivals taking place in squares, schools and churches throughout the city. where much dancing and singing takes place.
  • Brazil 's Independence Day in early September marks the anniversary of Brazilian independence and Rio sees numerous cultural and sporting events occurring across the city.

RIO ATTRACTIONS

Museums
Rio de Janeiro has many museums: The Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderna) and the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) for art lovers and the Museum of Native Arts (Museu Internacional de Arte Naif), home to the world's largest collection of paintings dating back to the 15th century.  For lovers of all things military, there are two military museums - the Fortaleza Santa Cruz and Copacabana Fort (Forte de Copacabana) - each displaying information and artefacts from all of Rio 's conflicts. For history buffs, The National History Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional) offers displays of creation throughout the ages. The National Museum (Museu Nacional) exhibits some stunning relics from Brazil 's past including coins, cannons, religious art and documents. Finally, for lovers of theatre, the Carmen Miranda Museum (Museu Carmen Miranda) offers an insight into the life of this 1940s Hollywood star. There are displays of her costumes, shoes, movie memorabilia and information about her life.

•  Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar), where you'll get a fantastic 360 degree view of Rio and Guanabara Bay . Across the Bay, you will see the Rio-Niteroi bridge ( 13,9 km long). Cariocas ( Rio To reach the top, take the Cable car .

•  Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain  gives an even higher perspective, and is the most well known and recognized landmark of Rio . You can take a tram up to the statue-the best view is on the right-hand side. From up here you can see that Rio is divided by a mountain range into two areas: the Zona Norte (North Zone) and the Zona Sul (South Zone). The Zona Sul holds most of the city's sights, including the Sugar Loaf and the famous beaches.

Lapa's Arches (the Carioca Aqueduct)
Built in 1750, with huge double arches, it extends from 64 meters high with a length of 270 meters . It was built to supply Rio 's population with water from the Carioca river springs, coming up from Sta. Teresa hill.

The Copacabana Fortress
Built in 1914, with the purpose of reinforcing Guanabara Bay 's defense. It offers visitors many historical curiosities and also a branch of the famous Colombo Confectioners'. Its collections of guns, varied military and historical objects and panels are part of the Brazilian Army's Historical Museum . It is located on Praça Cel. Eugênio Franco, 1, Copacabana

The Nossa Senhora da Candelária Church
Located in the financial downtown district, in an area rich in cultural venues, the Candelária Church is impressive due to its grandiosity. Built during the 18th century, its plant was designed in the shape of a Latin cross, with internal marble lining, front wall made of cut-stone masonry, doors with bronze works and the church's history painted in internal murals. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Rio de Janeiro . It is located on Praça Pio X, Downtown.

The Maracanã Soccer Stadium
Considered by many soccer fans as the " Temple of the Gods", it is one of the largest soccer Stadium in the world. It was built in 1950 to host the World Cup, and it was designed to welcome 166,369 people. Today, after some restorations, it can receive a crowd of 114,145 soccer fans. Access is available on Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo, gate 16. It is once more under renovation, this time to host the 2007 Pan-American Games.

The Modern Art Museum
Inaugurated in 1958, designed by architect Oscar Neimeyer, the Modern Art Museum (MAM) hosts a collection of four thousand works. Its gardens were designed by Burle Marx and were restored in 2004. It offers also an art cinema, a library and a bookstore.

National Historical Museum
The architectonic complex became a museum in 1922, during the Presidency of Epitácio Pessoa, and hosts a priceless collection with 275 thousand pieces, including paintings, guns, royal carts, furniture and rare objects - such as the plumed pen used by Princess Isabel to sign the Áurea Law, which abolished slavery in Brazil . The Museum is located on a 18 thousand m² land and occupies three separate buildings. It is located on Praça Mal. Âncora, Downtown.

Quinta da Boa Vista
The park is part of the Solar da Boa Vista, the royal residence of Brazilian emperors between 1822 and 1889 - the year the Republican Government was established in Brazil . It extends over an area of 155 thousand square meters, provided with a garden in 1869 according to a project designed by French landscape artist Auguste Glaziou. The Quinta's long gardens host the National Museum and city's Zoo, including also playgrounds, sports courts, picnic hides and restaurants. 

The Municipal Theater
In the heart of Cinelândia, downtown, near the National Library, the National Museum of Beaux Arts and to the Pedro Ernesto Palace , the Municipal Theater of Rio demands a visit not only for its architectonical design but also for the grandness and beauty of its interior décor. The noblest materials employed to build the Theater have turned it - with capacity to 2,200 people -, into a true temple of culture. Entry is available on Rua Manuel de Carvalho, Downtown.

  • Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - A large lagoon in the middle of South Zone, with great views to Corcovado and Ipanema and Leblon beaches; there are skating and jogging fields all around it.
  • Parque Lage - A small park, once a private mansion, where now a school of fine arts works.
  • Jardim Botanico - The Botanical Garden, planted up in the 1800s by the Portuguese royal family is both a park and a scientific laboratory. The admission is $4 and the gardens are well kept and very lush and has a resident population of monkeys.

•  Hang gliding and Paragliding

Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro started in the mid-70's and quickly proved to be perfectly suited for this town due to its geography with steep mountains encountering the Atlantic ocean which provides excellent take off locations and great landing zones on the beach. Operator included:

•  Panoramic flights

Although expensive helicopter and small plane panoramic flights are widely available

•  Favela (Shantytown) Tours :

Tours of Rocinha are offered by a number of reliable tourist operators, however, NEVER go on your own.

•  Shopping

Rio Sul - The biggest mall in the South Zone, located just between Copacabana and the Sugar Loaf.
Botafogo Praia Shopping - Located in the Botafogo beach area facing the Sugar Loaf and Guanabara Bay ;
Barra Shopping - The biggest mall in the city and arguably the largest in Latin America .
New York City Center - Next to Barra Shopping, has multiplex movie theaters, American-like restaurants including Outback Steakhouse and TGIF.
Norte Shopping - The biggest in the North Zone.
Nova América Outlet Shopping - Find cheapest stores for clothing and typical Brazilian wear; can be easily reached through Del Castilho subway station

•  Beaches
Ipanema
The most famous meeting point in Rio de Janeiro and one of the most celebrated beaches in the city and the world!

Copacabana
With plenty drinking and snacks bars, it is much appreciated for a late-afternoon cold beer. The beach's wide stretch of sand extends from Avenida Princesa Isabel to the Copacabana fortress.

Leblon
This is a calm beach, with good infrastructure for sports and a bicycle track. It is 1,3-km long and is separated from the beach of Ipanema by Jardim de Alá a channel connecting Rodrigo de Freitas Lake to the sea.

Prainha
It is a small beach with strong waves, one of the most favorite among surfers. Hills surrounding the beach still keep stretches of the original rich Atlantic forest.

Grumari
Environmental conservation area with many cliff walls and very rough seawaters. Grumari's left corner is also known as Abricó.

Arpoador
Between the Copacabana Fortress and the corner of Rua Francisco Otaviano and Avenida Vieira Souto. it is famous for the huge stone that separates Copacabana and Diabo beaches from the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon.

Pepino
With string waves, Pepino beach used for hang-gliders' landing, as they take flight from the neighboring Gávea Cliff.

Barra da Guaratiba
An urbanized beach, it stretches from the near coastline to Restinga da Marambaia marsh. This beach gives access to trails leading to deserted beaches, such as Inferno, Perigoso and Meio beaches. It offers guided walks.

Barra da Tijuca
Long and urbanized, with strong waves with some dangerous stretches not recommended to inexperienced swimmers. Much appreciated by surfers.

Pepe
It extends over a stretch of Barra da Tijuca beach just across Rua Noel Nutels,. This beach's name celebrates a world free flying champion called Pedro Paulo Carneiro Lopes, "Pepê" who died in a hang-gliding accident in 1991.

Botafogo
An urban beach, it is quite polluted. It offers a beautiful view of Corcovado Hill and Sugar Loaf Mountain .

Flamengo
With calm waters, this urban beach is also quite polluted. It offers visitors a view of the boats at Glória Marina.

SAFETY HINTS

Leave Passport, tickets and money in the hotel. 

Always carry with you some money

Take with you 20 R$, just in case you are approached by an armed person. You are at a higher risk if you do not hand over some money.

Take with you only necessary items for your daily use. Robbery is rampant!
Do not carry anything that if stolen can ruin your trip. Take only a copy of your documents (unless you're driving)

While not in use, put your camera in a plastic supermarket bag.

  Take great care in crossing roads as people drive very fast with no respect for pedestrians. For your safety, cross at the crosswalks - not closer to the corner - and watch for cars regardless of traffic lights

Avoid the downtown area, especially Saara , after dark.

Never go to Copacabana beach at night, you will get robbed.

When in downtown during the rush hour, be aware of pickpockets as in any other big city center.

Avoid wearing jewelry or other signs of wealth (iPods, cell phones/mobiles, digital cameras) if possible, at any time of the day as these attract attention.

The local emergency dial number is 190 .

 
 

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