Rio – Jardim Botanico, Centro, Chicken and Sugarloaf Mountain

Wednesday started out with a big win for me, only to go downhill from there with a series of fails. (This is a long post sorry as I did quite a lot today!)

First thing I had to do in the morning was get some laundry done. I had five days washing to do, and a quick look at the hotel price list saw that five sets of underwear and five tops would basically cost me £52 to get cleaned. No way was I paying that! So Google to the rescue. It turned out there was a laundry literally 30 seconds from my hotel. And lo and behold…

(Lavanderia in the pic) – £10 all in for pickup later in the day. A fifth of the hotel’s cost! I left a tip on Foursquare for any future visitors needing their dirty laundry washed.

Onwards and upwards! Today was my last full day in Rio. If the weather had played ball, and the sun had been shining, I probably would have headed to the beach, but it was grey, and while hot, overcast. So instead, I thought I’d head someplace hopefully lush and cool – Rio’s Jardim Botanico, or Botanical Gardens.

A 20 minute taxi ride later, and I was there. There’s a pretty dry visitors centre, and then after a token entry fee, you’re free to wander around.

It was actually really quiet and relaxing – a welcome break from the bustle of Copacabana. There was a map pointing out various bits of interest, but I couldn’t be bothered trying to follow the map, and the list of features wasn’t very user friendly if you weren’t of the green fingered type. It wasn’t long before I saw a bit of local wildlife.

Monkeys! I love monkeys. Anyway that was as close as I could get to one with my camera, but it was still pretty cool. Then I spent an hour just wandering around the gardens and getting some pics.

To be honest there wasn’t much colour – maybe that’s because it’s so hot here, but there were a LOT of trees. I have like a million pictures of trees.

Having read my guidebook to see what else was in the area I read about a nice café in a nearby local park (Parque Lage) which sounded amazing. So off I trotted – thinking I’d just walk as it didn’t look far. And it wasn’t – only 20 minutes walk, but let me tell ya, in the heat, that is a LONG way. I was drenched (yes, in sweat) by the time I got there, but I’m glad I made it – there was a building nestled just inside the park which just looked stunning.

Round the side of the building, I saw a little café sign so sat down and had a fairly average sandwich from a really grumpy woman at a handcart who wouldn’t smile back at me. Then I decided to explore inside the building. And that’s when I found…

Everyone sitting in a lovely café with delicious looking salads and sandwiches. The one the guide book had obviously been talking about. Fail number one of the day! I was gutted! Still I guess I should have looked inside first. There were also modern art exhibits in the building, and an in-house artist working away. I just thought the whole place looked really dramatic – it would be a great setting for part of a film. (I’m sure someone’s actually thought of that and already done it).

With a bit of time to kill before I picked up my laundry, I hopped in a cab to the nearest metro station and took a train into Centro – the city centre of Rio. And I wish I’d gone there earlier. There was a real buzz and vibe about it and it looked like a modern city (but with touches of amazing old architecture). If I had my time again, I’d have gone to Centro instead of Ipanema, which I didn’t find particularly impressive apart from the beach.

I headed to what’s been rated the third best thing to do in Rio on Trip Advisor (so I figured it must be pretty amazing.) The Theatro Municipal or Municipal (that’s a guess) Theatre.

Looks pretty amazing from the outside! After eventually finding the entrance (not the front, or round the right, but actually round to the left) I saw a tour coming out, and asked when the next one was. That’s when I was told as it was a holiday in Rio, that was the last tour of the day, and they were closing now to prepare for a show in the evening. Fail number two!

Undefeated, I headed to this place…

Confeitaria Colombo. It’s basically an amazing old school cafe.

Inside was beautiful – you felt you were in Paris or Vienna rather than slap bang in chaotic Rio. I grabbed a coffee and a strawberry and cheese (like cream cheese) tart and then headed back to pick up my laundry.

That successfully collected, I jumped in another cab and headed to Pão de Açúcar – or Sugarloaf Mountain. Seeing as I’d already seen decent views of Rio from Christ the Redeemer, I thought I’d visit Sugarloaf at sunset to try and get some good pictures.

The good thing about visiting at that time of day (it was around 6pm when I arrived at the base) is that it was dead. So there’s a wee tip! I walked straight up to the ticket counter and then straight up on to the first cable car. There’s then a five minute walk to the next cable car to take you to the top of Sugarloaf. The views were good from this level…

So I couldn’t wait to get to the top and see the real deal – particularly at sunset. After a short wait, we boarded the next cable car. As we did, all of a sudden the top of the mountain became shrouded in fog. Meaning that when we all arrived at the top, this was the view that greeted us.

Absolutely nothing. I was gutted! I waited around for half an hour to see if it would clear, but there was no joy. So there wasn’t any point in waiting. I was really disappointed. I’d left it ‘til my last day in Rio thinking it would be a highlight, but it was definitely a low point for me! Third fail of the day (’though not my fault.)

I took some pictures on the way down again (there was no mist at mid-level), but they weren’t what I’d been hoping to get.

Still at least I got a good selfie I guess…

After that very disappointing trip (and note there’s no mist around the top in that shot which was just five minutes before I got on the final cable car!) I jumped in a cab and headed for dinner – to a restaurant that Tom from the food tour the day before had recommended. Galeto Sat’s in Copacabana.

As you can see it’s not a big place, and inside it’s basic…

But that’s not the point. It’s famed for it’s roast chicken – popular in Rio, and this place is meant to be one of the best. Take a look at these little birds!

I had Galeto Complet – which was basically a chicken with rice, egg in some kind of flour, and chips. I think you are actually meant to get that to share between two people, but it was under £10 and I couldn’t be bothered ordering a half chicken and all the sides (I’d read that was the way to do it). You can order a chicken as a meal with all the sides, but not the half chicken. This is what it looked like.

It doesn’t look the tastiest right? But it was. The chicken was beautiful – it was plain, simple food, perfectly done (didn’t think the chips were amazing though). I’m not sure I even ate half, but it was still great value for money. I did make a small mini fail here though – apparently broccoli rice is the thing to try, and I completely forgot about that.

Dinner done, by now it was getting really late, and I had to be up early the next morning. I jumped in my final cab of the day and headed back to my hotel to unpack my laundry and then pack my bag for my next stop.