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How did you get there?
I flew with KLM via Amsterdam. I paid for comfort seats in economy (approx. £90 each way) – the difference with normal economy is that these seats are located in the front part, they have more leg room and you have priority check-in. Meals and entertainment system are the same as normal economy but I certainly slept better and travelled more comfortably.

Had you been before?
This was my 2nd time in Rio, the first time was 30 years ago and only for a few days!

If so, any notable differences?
The views from Sugar Loaf and Christ of Redeemer are as stunning as I remembered, but this time, I had more time to explore a different side of the city: learning about its history, culture and gastronomy.

Which was your favourite...
Place: The city itself is stunning, surrounded by the Mata Atlântica rainforest and pristine national parks like Tijuca. It has the perfect blend of nature and architecture and is home to the largest urban rainforest in the world.

Hotel: Spending a week at the Hotel Emiliano was a treat to my own self, my senses and definitely, my comfort. Enjoying a couple of caipirinhas admiring the stunning views of Copacabana beach from the infinity pool on the rooftop was just perfect!

Excursion: It's difficult to choose my favourite experience. One of my favourites was a Bossa Nova walking tour in Ipanema, while another was a tour of the warehouses where the samba schools start their preparations for the next Carnival. While I'd missed Carnival itself by about a month, I was still treated to an afternoon of samba, colour and dance. They start preparing early!

What was your most memorable moment?
A visit to Refettorio Gastromotiva restaurant in Lapa was an eye-opener to a good cause - using food that has been donated from food suppliers, the restaurant trains aspiring chefs showing them how to prepare five-star delicacies, which are then served to the community's most vulnerable.

Were there any surprises along the way?
There are some great locations to stay in away from the famous Ipanema or Copacabana beaches. Don’t underestimate locations like  Leme beach at the far end of Copacabana, popular with local families, or bougie Arpoador and Leblon (on opposite sides of Ipanema). For a second-time visit to the city you could try Barra da Tijuca known for its long, wide beaches and shopping centres or the bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa.

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?
If you are visiting Sugar Loaf by yourselves, it is worth paying a bit extra for the VIP service; this way you can have access to priority lines / fast track where you can jump the queue each way.

Is there anything indispensable to pack or prepare for?
Don’t forget to take a raincoat or poncho and your mosquito repellent (even in the middle of the summer). Due to the proximity of the rainforest, a unexpected rain shower can happen at any time.

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?
There is a good reason why Brazil is currently nominated in the World Travel Awards for South America's leading culinary destination in 2024 - it has a variety of culinary delights as diverse as the country itself and Rio is a fantastic place to explore them all.

Any restaurant or bar recommendations?
Too many to recommend but a few restaurants stand out from the ones I’ve tried: Pergola at The Copacabana Palace, Térèze in Santa Teresa and Fogo de Chão Barbecue House in Botafogo.

Sum up your trip in a sentence?
One week in Rio was not enough! I loved the vibe, the friendly atmosphere, the casual approach of its people and the beauty of the city itself. Definitely made for an interesting and relaxed city break!


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