SDU - Santos Dumont - Rio de Janeiro
By Ricardo Freire
You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of cities in the world that are known by their slogans. Rome, the Eternal City. Paris, the City of Lights. Rio de Janeiro, the Marvelous City. Rio gets the Oscar for setting, art direction, casting, (lack of) costume, script and original soundtrack.
Everything that is done outdoors looks, tastes, feels and has the texture of a vacation. Cariocas may not know this, but jogging on the calçadão (esplanade) at 6am is sort of like going on a mini vacation every day. Having a draft beer after work is a vacation. On sunny Sundays, other cities stop - but Rio goes on vacation. It is a pleasure to be in a place that is so well equipped to become a vacation for its own residents.
Want to make things more beautiful? Come by air bridge. One of the most beautiful shows on the planet for the price of a plane ticket.
Don’t do as the cariocas – do go up to the post card sites. For the best pictures, go to the Sugar Loaf in the morning (when the sun lights the Christ the Redeemer statue) and to Corcovado in the afternoon, with the sun setting on the Urca Mountain.
If you don’t want to drive around, go straight to the point: Dias Ferreira Street, in Leblon, for restaurants; Ipanema (Garcia D’Ávila, Nossa Senhora da Paz Square) for upscale commerce; Lower Copacabana (Bolivar Street) for bars; Lapa for the carioca nightlife. For beaches even more beautiful than those on the Southern District, go to Prainha (after Barra) and Itacoatiara (Niterói).
Rio is unbeatable when it comes to popular music and theater. The best travel guides in Rio are the Friday editions of the local newspapers, which publish the cultural programming.