My top 9 things to do in Rio when you are NOT training BJJ.

 

Christ the Redeemer

So, what does one do when living in Rio de Janeiro, but the gym is closed!!?? Well…there is literally a ga-jillion things to do in Rio! It’s a big city with a lot to offer.  Though some schools are open on weekends, the DLR Academy is not and so it gives the perfect opportunity to recuperate and get some quality sight-seeing in!

The first stop on my YoloBJJ adventure was Cozumel, MX which has a small town, “Island Time” sort of feel about it. Recovery days were usually spent with some leisurely swimming at the beach or sipping margaritas at a beach -side bar.

Rio, on the other hand, is a very different vibe! Rio is a big city, and has that sort of big city energy that you get in places like Chicago or New York. Unlike those cities though, Rio has been dropped in between a gorgeous, rain forest covered mountain range and a massive tropical beach! There is so much to see and do here it is hard to narrow down a list. I am going to try and keep mine short but here are some great options for those recovery days. Enjoy!

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Here we go:

9) Take a walk and catch a view: Being that Rio is sitting at the edge of the mountains, there are tons of “overlooks” and “viewpoints” (Generally called “Mirantes”) all over. These are almost always free and you can catch a decent, light workout climbing the hills to get there. Some of the ones we went to include the :

The view of Ipanema beach from the top of Arpoador rock.

The view of Ipanema beach from the top of Arpoador rock.

View of Botafogo Bay from Morro de Urca.

View of Botafogo Bay from Morro de Urca.

View of Ipanema beach from a Mirante at Dos Irmaus park.

View of Ipanema beach from a Mirante at Dos Irmaus park.

A lot of the Mirantes are clearly marked...but not all.

A lot of the Mirantes are clearly marked…but not all.

8) Check out the art in a Favela: Favelas aren’t the “fear factories” that they are made out to be in media news and video games. Yes, there can be violence in some of them some of the time, but many, many people call these “neighborhoods” home, and take a lot of pride in having a safe, close, network of friends and families living in them. Along with that, you can find some really cool artwork in them as exhibited in the pictures below.

A full wall mural we spotted on the way to the Parque Das Ruinas (another great viewpoint).

A full wall mural we spotted on the way to the Parque Das Ruinas (another great viewpoint).

We found this tile mosaic in the Babilonia favela very close to Morro do Leme.

We found this tile mosaic in the Babilonia favela very close to Morro do Leme.

This is close to the corner of Avenida Princessa and Atlantica (not far from Babilonia).

This is close to the corner of Avenida Princessa and Atlantica (not far from Babilonia).

Tiles AND graffiti at Tabajaras favela (On the way to BJJ Traveler's hostel)

Tiles AND graffiti at Tabajaras favela (On the way to BJJ Traveler’s hostel)

And, of course, be sure to check out the Escadaria de Celaron!

And, of course, be sure to check out the Escadaria de Celaron!

7) Catch a pro sports event: If you spend more than ten minutes in Rio you will find that there are at least two things the Carioca are passionate about: The Beach and Futebol (Soccer). And, of course, you can find pro events for both of these pastimes in Rio. Catch a Flamengo game at Maracana stadium, or a Pro Beach Volleyball game on Copacabana Beach. You could even catch a pro-Frescobal game down at Posto #5! But hey…you can always head down to Ipanema and rent a surfboard! (get there early since they rent out quick).

You can catch Pro Frescobal matches down at Posto 5!

You can catch Pro Frescobal matches down at Posto 5!

The Professional Beach Volleyball tour comes through the Copacabana down at Posto 2 (the game pictured was an all Brasil final, the fans were pumped!)

The Professional Beach Volleyball tour comes through the Copacabana down at Posto 2 (the game pictured was an all Brasil final, the fans were pumped!)

Profession Futevollei (Volley ball with football rules - no hands!) Yep, they have that too at the copa.

Profession Futevollei (Volley ball with football rules – no hands!) Yep, they have that too at the copa.

head over to Maracana stadium for a tour and / or a football game.

head over to Maracana stadium for a tour and / or a football game.

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6) Eat! For God’s Sake, EAT: I’ve laid out a more detailed posting on this topic here (Eating in Rio). Suffice it to say, If you are a steak / meat / carne lover…Run to Rio right now. Right Now!

"Por Kilo" places are all over Rio. This one just off the corner of Rua Prado Jr. and Vivieros de Castro runs about $3.80/ pound.

“Por Kilo” places are all over Rio. This one just off the corner of Rua Prado Jr. and Vivieros de Castro runs about $3.80/ pound.

The flag is ALWAYS green at Carretao Churrascaria in Ipanema!

The flag is ALWAYS green at Carretao Churrascaria in Ipanema!

Acai Stout at the Churrascaria Palace!

Acai Stout at the Churrascaria Palace!

On the corer of Rua Pradoand Nossa Senhora, Dante's serve up a 1liter draught (choppe) for about $2.50, and the Filet with garlic is the best meal I had in Rio!!

On the corner of Rua Prado Jr. and Nossa Senhora, Dante’s serves up a 1 liter draught (choppe) for about $2.50, and the filet with garlic is the best meal I had in Rio!!

5) Learn Carioca history and catch lunch: Copacabana Beach is protected at both ends by Forte Do Leme (Leme Fort) at the North and Forte do Copacabana (Copacabana Fort) on the south. The views of the Copa are fantastic from the top of Forte do Leme and the history of the “18 do Forte do Copacabana” was fascinating at the Forte do Copacabana! Plus, they have both a nice cafe and a full service Bistro at Forte do Copacabana where you can grab lunch and enjoy a view of the Paddle-boarders at Posto #6.

Fort Leme guards Gunabara Bay at the north end of the Copa. cheap self-guided tours.

Fort Leme guards Guanabara Bay at the north end of the Copa. cheap self-guided tours.

And Fort Copacabana guards the point between the Copa and Ipanema. A fascinating historical tour and a quaint bistro with a view of the Copa!

And Fort Copacabana guards the point between the Copa and Ipanema. A fascinating historical tour and a quaint bistro with a view of the Copa!

Great view of the Copa with Fort Leme to the far right and Pao de Azucar looking in the background.

Great view of the Copa from Fort Copacabana with Fort Leme to the far right and Pao de Azucar looking in the background.

4) Do a cultural tour downtown: When it comes to the tourist view of Rio, the downtown area is WAY under-rated. There are just a ton of things to do / see downtown, as pictured below,

The Municipal Theater is stunning inside an the tour is super cheap!

The Municipal Theater is stunning inside and the tour is super cheap!

The Church of St. Francis downtown has a beautiful "Golden Chapel" and would make a great Zombie safe zone...just in case.

The Church of St. Francis (Igresia de Sao Francisco da Penitencia) downtown has a beautiful “Golden Chapel” and would make a great Zombie safe zone…just in case.

The Confetiaria Colombo is both an historic landmark as well as a restaurant / candy store.

The Confetiaria Colombo is both an historic landmark as well as a restaurant / candy store.

The Arcos de Lapos, in Lapos. Catch it on your walk around downtown.

The Arcos de Lapos, in Lapos. Catch it on your walk around downtown.

The Metropolitan Cathedral...very interesting design.

The Metropolitan Cathedral…very interesting design.

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The Petrobras building downtown looks more like a game of Jenga than a corporate office building.

3) Do some shopping at an outdoor Fair (Feira): Shopping seems to be the third national past-time after the beach and futebol. (Actually, you can keep shopping, even at the beach since vendors will be bringing around everything from beer to bikinis, to selfie-sticks for sale!). There is an almost constant fair of some sort going on in Sao Cristovao, and on weekends they pop-up everywhere (see pics).

The "Festival do Sao Christovao" is a giant flea market / cheap goods fair.

The “Festival do Sao Christovao” is a giant flea market / cheap goods fair.

A food market opens up every Thursday on Rua Duvivier between Nossa Senhora and Vivieros de Castro

A food market opens up every Thursday on Rua Duvivier between Nossa Senhora and Vivieros de Castro

You can get your souvenir fix at the fair that opens up near posto on weekends.

You can get your souvenir fix at the fair that opens up near posto on weekends.

2) Drop dime and climb to the high points of RJ: The two biggest tourist attractions in RJ have got to be 1:Pao de Acucar and 2: Corcovado / Christ the Redeemer.

Pao de Acucar is named after the shae of old "sugar loaves" made by drying pressed sugar cane in pointy barrels or pots.

Pao de Acucar is named after the shape of old “sugar loaves” made by drying pressed sugar cane in pointy barrels or pots.

Christ the Redeemer is so iconic that it needs no introduction.

Christ the Redeemer is so iconic that it needs no introduction.

And the number one thing to do in Rio de Janiero when you are NOT training Jiu-Jitsu…..

1) Go to the beach: The beach is the center of social life at the Copacabana. The beach is where EVERYBODY gets together on the weekends to hang out, surf, swim, suck on some coconuts, beers or whatever. For just a few U.S. $ you can rent an umbrella and chairs and hang out the entire day. You can drink, eat, swim, etc…Some people come to the beach as early as 7:00 am and don’t leave until dark! At the Copa…Copacabana! – sorry, couldn’t resist…

A view of the entire Copacaban from Posto 6. All the chairs and umbrellas are rented for maybe $5.00 a day.

A view of the entire Copacabana from Posto 6. All the chairs and umbrellas are rented for maybe $5.00 a day.

Praia Ipanema starts at Posto 7, just past Arpoador rock.

Praia Ipanema starts at Posto 7, just past Arpoador rock.

Both The Copa and Ipanema are bordered by Promenades filled with vendors and beach side restaurants. No need to leave for anything :-)

Both The Copa and Ipanema are bordered by Promenades filled with vendors and beach side restaurants. No need to leave for anything 🙂

Looking back on the four months I lived and trained here I can honestly say that while Rio has some down points (crowding, pollution, standard “big City” stuff) I will always treasure the memories of my time here. From people watching on the Copacabana to eating what might have been the best steak I have ever eaten (at Dante’s – corner of Nossa Senhora and Prado Junior) to climbing to the top of Pao de Acucar and training at the one and only Castello do Mestre Ricardo De La Riva! Oss Rio! I will be back!

Until next time: Good training. Oss!

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