An easy map of Rio de Janeiro for you. Today, we were at Santa Teresa, our home base and at Saara market in Downtown.
The most used One word in Rio today? “Obrigado!” Then my poor tongue would keep spitting out ”Gracias!” or “ Grazie!” and what else.. Oh I even said, “Arigato!” Actually If didn’t say “Arigato!” that loud stupidly, I could have been almost heard as if I was saying ”Obrigado…!”
But gentile Cariocas were still friendly to us as we pulled out every possible language card we had out of our back pockets, and we did survive the very first day at this warm, raw, lush and quite interesting city, Rio de Janeiro! ( yeah… Italian did help but not much really…)
From a little quick research I did before booking the trip, I knew we wanted to stay at Santa Teresa where is located between the heart of Samba scene area called “Lapa” and an another area where the old Rio meets the new Rio, a downtown typically named as “Centro”. See, Santa Teresa is sort of Montmarte of Rio to me. Run down yet absolutely gorgeous colonial style villas with those pretty metal gates are lined up all along the sleepy cobble stoned hill tops and this quiet bohemian, and artists filled neighborhood houses small bodegas and charming little bars where you can taste authentic Brazilian or more like Amazonian food seasoned with exotic Brazilian nuts and herbs along the superb Caipirinha that is just perfectly prepared!
Then you will also find more than enough of quite amazing graffitied walls and maybe the last true Tram in the entire South America, the Bonde ( it pronounces “bonje”). This bright yellow old school Tram is a little moving gem that provides you maybe the best transportation to access to Lapa and Centro with only 0.60 Real ( about $0.45) per ride or even for free if you dare to hang on to the bar outside the tram windows! Me an Cynthia will try this tomorrow morning when we get down to Downtown to get to Ipanema Beach and Leblon to hunt down good inspirations and ideas for the next summer’s Gap women’s collection.
Today we had gone down to check out The “ Saara Market” in Centro, the traditional downtown shopping bazaar with bustling streets and hundreds of shops where you can buy stuff like Carnival costumes to batteries. It’s down and true to all that chachiki needs for everyday life of Cariocas ( Local of Rio). The streets of Saara consist of historical architecture, randomly located many churches and bustling people crossing the street regardless the color of the traffic lights ( I mean way more intense than NYC) and you can surely feel like you are in the heart of where the locals really hang out.
And…let me share some pics!
I tried to find the best option in our budget to really experience what Rio truly is about. We passed many swanky high rise hotels in the beaches and chose a small guest house in Santa Teresa. A sun room at Casa Amarelo.
Typical Colonial villas at Santa Teresa.
Saara market, Downtown Rio.
A man selling Sandal wood fiber balls. It smelled so good passing by!
Empanada and orange juice shop. Sort of Papaya’s Hot dog shop at NYC.
Fabric shopping with Cynthia!
Then we also checked out the Library of Portuguese Literature. AMAZING.
And hold your breath now. Here we were at one of the oldest church in Rio, Sao Fransisco da Penirencia. Baroque style. It was so intense , it was not easy to look at. Really.
OK, Now we are home stretching here. Santa Teresa by night.
Nite nite people!