That was then, this is now. The 2016 Olympic Games will officially commence tonight during the Opening Ceremonies taking place in Rio’s Maracanã Stadium. It will air on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET…and I’m having some SERIOUS nostalgia for this paradise in the sun.
How to watch
It’s OLYMPIC FRIDAY! And what a better way to celebrate the weekend than by taking up your own sport of laying on the couch, flipping through channels, and landing on NBC. The network will also be live streaming, whether through a browser or through the NBC Sports app for tablets and smartphones, however, there’s a catch. You’ll need cable login credentials. WAAWAAA. This is when I tell you to politely ask for a friend/family member’s credentials.
What To Do
- Order a coconut, chopp (cold, draft beer) and a Caipirinha (national cocktail) from beach kiosks and bask in the tropical sun. Buy a Brazilian beach towel known as cangas or pay R$5 for a chair, whatever floats your boat.
- Watch the locals play futevolei on Copacabana. The sport is as if volleyball and soccer had a baby, not to mention the most beautiful people are playing almost naked. Try and take your eyes off it, I dare you.
- Wander the streets of Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon. Rua Visconde de Pirajá is particularly interesting with its restaurants, shops, kiosks and charm. Head into the boutique known as ‘Farm’ if you’re looking to really blow some cash money.
- Take a helicopter ride with Helisul to visit Christ the Redeemer, although I’m sure they are swamped with the amount of people in town, so I suggest you call them like, yesterday.
- Hike up to one of the highest points in Rio to take in the amazing views of the peaks through the clouds and the views down below. I hiked up Pedra da Gávea located in the Tijuca Forest and definitely recommend it (on a clear day). Disclaimer: NOT for beginners as this hike gets technical with small amounts of rock climbing and repelling. Seeing the panoramic views from the 844m high summit is worth it…as well as the thigh workout you’ll get.
- Get cozy while downing some acai (Brazilian fruit) com granola! NOMMMM.
- Frolic inside Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens) and feast your eyes on tree lines paths and lily pad filled ponds. It’s fairytale-like.
- Head over to Parque Lage for a tranquil setting full of English style gardens, little lakes and a mansion that’s home to the Visual Art School. My school sure wasn’t this dreamlike. I got jipped. It’s very close to Jardim Botanico for a double dose of fantasy land.
- Learn Portuguese phrases that will help you along the way like “Hi” and “Thank you” and “How much does this cost” and “Go USA!”
- Go flyboarding with 360 Sports.
- Visit Escadaria Selarón, the famous Brazilian steps that took Jorge Selarón over 20 years to create with ceramic tiles from all ove tthe world, situated in Rio’s Lapa neighborhood.
- Take the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) and take in a sunset of the harbor.
- Venture out to Lapa for the real Brazilian nightlife, not venturing far from the main streets and plazas though. The Rio Scenarium is a great choice with its samba and live music.
- Sit in the sand on Ipanema beach and watch the sunset over the Two Brothers (Dois Irmãos). When I think back oh so fondly on my trip to Rio, this is the exact image I have. Too cool for school and too beautiful for words.
Where to stay
Uhmmm…if you’re heading to the Olympics and haven’t secured lodging, I’m nervous for you. Try your luck at Airbnb or my fave and former employer – Oasis Collections. If they’re all out of options for you, try Rio Exclusive.
How to stay safe
Rio isn’t known for its impeccable safety record, so please please PLEASE be on guard and aware of your surroundings. Don’t text on every street corner. Don’t get drunk and forget where you are. If you go into the favelas, go with a local.
Who to fly
LATAM Airlines is your ticket south to the Olympic Games. A few months ago I flew from Miami to Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport and loved every second of the flight SO much, that I had to get a photo in the cockpit before leaving. Whatever you do, promise me one thing. Purchase a window seat when flying into Rio to see the various green peaks popping all over the city.
Money: There are ATMS in various spots around the city as well as money exchange counters that are easy to find. Brazilian currency come in reias. Today, 1.00 USD=3.16688 BRL
Language: Portuguese! If you know Spanish, you can probably communicate with the locals since the languages tend to be similar.
Weather: Rio’s average low temp is ~70 degrees and the average high is ~82 degrees. The real question is, how does anyone get anything done in this city? If I lived there, I’d be a beach bum a solid 100% of the time. It’s always rockin’ in Rio.
Landscapes: Lush rain forests, picturesque mountains and tropical beaches fronting a deep blue sea have locals and foreigners alike staying put forever. Tack on the sexiest population on the planet and you’ve got an enchanting p-p-p-paradise (sorry, had to).
If you’re looking to get outside the city, take a look at my Best of Buzios post for funspiration. For more information about the 2016 Olympic Games, see the infographic below!
May the odds be ever in your favor, America.