Rio de Janeiro And Discovering This Amazing City

We are up early to explore the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro. We’re dressed and heading out for a walk along the beach and it is only 7:00 a.m. Where we are staying in our tiny guesthouse there is no breakfast included, so along the way we look for a place where breakfast is served. However, we soon learn that there are no cafés along the Ipanema Beachfront.

Ipanema to Copacabana

Ipanema Beach

So we walk towards Copacabana Beach area.

We discover that there are many people involved in body fitness activities at the beach. My son gets a kick out of a guy ‘fighting himself’.

The Dividing Rocks

We wander around the rocks that divide the two beaches and it feels good to have a morning walk. We get to meet a few travelers and talk about the beauty of Rio and this amazing city.

Heading to Copacabana Beach

We walk through a park and then a couple of streets and find Copacabana Beach. I am a bit mystified that they have not connected the two. It is something I feel can easily be done. This is quite a shame as it ruins the tranquility as we wander past closed stores.

Copacabana Beach

As we get to Copacabana, we notice it is more ‘alive’ and there are a lot more people around. We wish we had stayed in this vicinity instead.

My son finally gets the hat he has been wanting since Colombia. I offer the guy 20 Reais ($10) but he has no change. So he accepts my coins, and we get it for $6 – bargain. One happy boy goes off singing and running along the beach.

Sing It!

We then both find ourselves singing Copa Copacabana.

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
She would merengue and do the cha-cha
And while she tried to be a star
Tony always tended bar
Across the crowded floor, they worked from eight til four
They were young and they had each other
Who could ask for more?
At the Copa (co) Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (co) Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa they fell in love
Copa, Copacabana
His name was Rico
He wore a diamond
He was escorted to his chair, he saw Lola dancing there
And when she finished, he called her over
But Rico went a bit to far
Tony sailed across the bar
And then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two
There was blood and a single gun shot
But just who shot who?
At the Copa (co) Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (co) Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa, she lost her love
(Copa, Copacabana)
(Copa, Copacabana)
like in Havana
(Copa, banana)
Music and passion were always in fashion
Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl
But that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show
Now it’s a disco, but not for Lola
Still in dress she used to wear
Faded feathers in her hair
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she’s lost her mind
At the Copa (co) Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (co) Copacabana
Music and passion were always in fashion
At the Copa don’t fall in love don’t fall in love
Songwriters: Barry Manilow / Bruce H. Sussman / Jack A. Feldman Copacabana (At the Copa) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Hunting for a Café for Breakfast

We then wander for quite some time and again all the beachfront restaurants are closed. It is quite odd as they really could change this and make it into a more cosmopolitan strip. We head to a side street and find a cafe.

We find a cafe with a distinctly French feel to it. In fact parts of Rio are starting to feel more like France. Not that I have been there for 25 years, but it still feels that way.

We enjoy a really well-priced breakfast. Not big though – just a nice cheese croissant and a fabulous coffee but I am pretty happy and we have started the day perfectly.
This breakfast actually is one of my most favorite memories of our travels as far as breakfasts go.  I don’t know why but it was just perfect and happy.

Beach Sellers

We then wander back along the beach. It is quite overcast and we won’t be able to see Christ the Redeemer statue today. I enjoy the beach sellers and look for few swimmers in the water and then Explorason wants to go in but it is way too cold for me.

I buy a sarung from one of the sellers and we agree on a price. As I go to pay him, he tries to up the price. I know I could get it at the markets cheaper, but I think I ‘need’ it as it is the same as the one that hangs over my head at the house sit we are at. Well, another ‘want’ on my list is done.

New Friends

We meet a family, and the kids start to play. They speak English, so this is great. We are a bit shocked and surprised that very few people in Brazil speak English. The little Spanish I know has however allowed me to interact with some people. I am struggling with Portuguese though but determined to make the best effort I can.

We then get back to our guesthouse and shower and pack up our few belongings.  I’m glad Explorason has had a good amount of play time prior to exploring and it is important to get a balance.

Time To Explore This Amazing City Of Rio

With backpack strapped on, we depart the guesthouse and then catch a bus to Centro in the quest of exploring this amazing city.

Again we find someone on the bus who helps us. He walks us around town to the area we are going. We enjoy seeing the graffiti art. The architecture has a strong French feel.

We find quite a few places we recognize from the animated movie ‘Rio’. Unfortunately, the trolley car is not operating. Seems it has not been operated for 2 years and seems few people in Rio are aware of this.

Performing Arts Centre

We then wander off to the Performing Arts Centre.

We are the only ones walking around so we get a great look upstairs. It’s amazing that we are invited to the Prop making area and we can wander freely.

Mixed Directions

We have been asking where to find the famous mosaic Selaron Steps or Escadaria Selarón are and have been given directions heading north, south, east, and west. Some say we need a bus, others say a taxi, other say they are a far walk, and lastly we are told they are close. So we walk and enjoy the Bohemian feel in this area but still feels like an amazing city to be in!

We stop along the way for lunch and a rest from exploring this amazing city of Rio. A beggar and some drunks and druggies are kicked out as they try to ask for money. One guy makes me laugh as he is persistent or else very forgetful. This cafe has entrances and exits from two streets and is on a V-shaped corner.

So he is ushered out one side, pops around the corner and comes back through the other entrance and tries again. I laugh, but the owner is exasperated. He just won’t go away and is rather ‘in your face’. We enjoy a healthy lunch with fresh juices, fish, and vegetables.

There is a lot of good Graffiti art in this area that is well worth seeking out.

Accessing Selaron Steps

amazing city

©Exploramum and Explorason – Escadaria Selaron – Rio De Janeiro – Brazil

We start to get a bit nervous as we have definitely used the wrong route to access this area. But hey, in the distance we see the steps. The little entrance street is not good and there are a lot of undesirables hanging around. However, security is good since there are police officers on both ends.

Free To Experience The Wonders Of The Steps

No-one seems to care that my son climbs up the walls. In other places, this would not be allowed. He even goes for a slide down the side tiles. If you visit here, take time to explore and use this as an educational time, not just another photo opportunity.

Talking Tiles

The tiles are from all over the world and certain sections take on themes. It is worth taking time to read and understand what the artists were thinking. Some of the tiles almost talk to you as they read of stories of lives and experiences that many in the western world have little understanding of.

Don’t Explore Past the Top

We head to the top of the steps but are made aware that it is not safe to go past the tiled area. But there are police officers at the top and we are told to go back down. So at the top, we turn around. This is great as we see a lot more on the way down that we didn’t see on the way up. If you visit can I suggest you explore one side on the way up and one side on the way down?

I love this mosaic of the African map. Little did we know that later in our trip we would fall in love with Africa!

Our Favorite Key

At the bottom of the steps is an amazing artist from Colombia. He and his friend are starting a new business. I told them I would give them a plug on my website, and I am true to my word. Each key they make is handcrafted.

Few craftsmen I see really earn their money. These two are a team and they work hard. The key below has the sun, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and much more. So we paid for it and he added our names.


©Exploramum and Explorason – The finished key

This is no average souvenir and we love it. It is delicate, so make sure you don’t fiddle and snap it. To us, this was a fabulous memory of the amazing city of Rio that will one day hang on our world Christmas Tree when we get a home base.

Heading Back to The House Sit


©Exploramum and Explorason – the end of an amazing day exploring an amazing city

We head back to the bus and my son is so tired from exploring this amazing city. We will come back another day and see the rest of this amazing city of Rio, so stay tuned. I make sure we go back by 3:00 pm to avoid the traffic jams. We make a decision to stock up on a bit of food and water for the journey back home. It takes over 1 hour to get over the bridge. By halfway over the bridge my son is asleep and he remains that way for the next two hours.


So far we have loved Rio and exploring this amazing city. It is also the most expensive city we have been in, to date. Oh! maybe New York is about the same. But in New York, we had more options for dining out and I don’t think you’d struggle to find a café for breakfast there. If you go to Rio be prepared to spend. But then again, if you are in South America, you have to go to Rio!

Questions and Comments

  • Have you ever been to Rio?
  • What would you like to see if you do go?
  • What would concern you?
  • We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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