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2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

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Boston...
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2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Visiting relatives in Sao Paulo, we decided to stop in Rio for 2 nights. Arrive GIG at 10:30am Sunday, depart GIG at 2:30pm Tuesday.

We would like to get a flavor of Rio, see the sights, and maximize safety. Any recommendations for hotel ($200 range)? From what we've read, Ipanema seems more suitable than Copa. Are there other good, safe options besides staying on the beach?

How about itinerary? Sunday afternoon activity/dinner? We are considering a full day guided tour with Gray Line Tours. Other recommendations?

Thanks

Matt

Salvador, BA
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1. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Praia Ipanema Hotel

The beach neighborhoods are the most convenient for tourists.Santa Teresa, a so-called Bohemian neighborhood, while interesting to take the bondinho up to (although I would not want to try to secure a toddler over the 3 story 'arcos') to stroll, is more inconvenient as far as regular transport in and out.

Gray Line spends most of the time picking up and dropping off at various hotels, so not a good value or idea. If you want to be driven around to see a lot in a short time, and have some value added by informed commentary, consider hiring a private tour guide with a car, not as expensive as you might think.

On a Sunday, with a toddler, I would definitely head for the Quinta de Boa Vista park, by metro, to spend the day with the carioca families enjoying the kiddie rides, street food, zoo, running room, and a gem of a little ethnographic art museum.

You can also spend a brief time looking out over the city from one of the heights, Corcovado or Sugarloaf, if it is a particularly sunny day.

And the Hippie Fair, a craft/art fair in Ipanema may be worth a look. Plenty of color and interesting objects for the toddler.

Happy travels.

Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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2. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

On Sunday, our favorite things to recommend are go to the Hippie Fair, and then have a nice late lunch/dinner at the churrascuria Porcao. They have a children's room made for toddlers, along with nanny's who are there holding and playing with the little ones. We do this on rainy Sundays with our friends, and the kids are happy and the adults get some time to graze on food, chat, and drink wine for hours!

Monday I would go visit the Christ statue or Sugarloaf and vice versa the following day. I was just at the Christ statue over the weekend with friends visiting, and there was someone with an infant, and they didn't seem to have a hard time. Just take the elevator instead of the stairs. I would recommend taking a driver up to Corcovado, the wait for the train is really long (plus there is nothing to see on it) and the taxis to and from there will rip you off with set rates. I can recommend to you someone great who is Brazilian but who used to live in the States so speaks great English and has nice, safe cars. My husband's company uses them, but for us he gives a good discount.

Also I can send you itineraries, hotel and restaurant recommendations which I have on Word docs. Just email me at missy@ozonetravel.com for more info.

Houston-Lisbon-Rio...
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3. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Greetings,

TCantarelli gave you some great options most of which I whole heartedly agree with...

I would suggest that as far as hotel accommodations are concerned, you also look at the Sol Ipanema or the Sheraton Rio.

The Sol Ipanema is directly across the avenue from Posto 9 on Ipanema beach and a very short walk (about a block) from the famous Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema) restaurante. This is the place where the well-known song of the same name was created. The restaurante is filled with memorbillia related to the song and while it is something of a tourist trap, the food is pretty decent and it is well worth a visit.

The Sheraton Rio is a little distance away from Ipanema and Leblon beaches but it is a good kid-friendly hotel with a great pool area. The location of the Sheraton Rio will necessitate the use of taxis but they are fairly inexpensive and always available.

The sites TCantarelli mentioned in her reply to your post are without doubt the ones you should try to get to in the brief time you are in Rio. Cristo Redentor, Sugarloaf and the Hippe Fair are must-sees.

As to Grayline tours, here is where TCantarelli and I differ in opinion; Personally, I have enjoyed every Grayline tour I have ever been on in Rio ( I have also taken Grayline tours in Lisbon, New York, San Francisco and New Orleans) and it is true that a lot of time is spent in picking up clients from hotels and then afterwards dropping them off but I have always used this time to people watch as we drive through the streets of Rio or to meet my fellow travellers.

For me the picking up and dropping off aspect of the tour has never been much of an issue though I will concur with TCantarelli inasmuch as the prices for the Grayline tours have become somewhat inflated versus the tour services you receive.

That stated, I, too, would suggest that you consider hiring a private guide to tour with. Keeping in mind your limited time, a private guide with a car would afford you a much more personal exploration of Rio and in the end take less time than a full-day tour with Grayline which will start around 9:00am and end sometime after sundown (with the pick-up / drop-offs included). Also, the price for a private guide will probably be as much as or perhaps a little less than what Grayline will charge you both (I don't know if they will charge for the baby but most likely they will) for a full-day tour.

I hope that this has been of some help.

Safe travels to you!

George B.

Salvador, BA
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4. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Oh, and on the top of Sugarloaf, a toddler might like to look at the many miko monkeys you can find in the trees above the dirt paths.

IMO, a toddler would love the train ride up Corcovado, listening to the samba band that plays on the way up, and will undoubtedly 'flirt' with your toddler, maybe letting him 'play' an instrument, while you enjoy the great views--much better than a van ride!

You have so little time in Rio that I would not waste a second on overpriced-for-the-mediocre-quality food, and would just grab something on the fly from the nearest "por kilo" (by weight) buffet, almost guaranteed to be great and have lots of choice for toddlers. The heights (Corcovado and Sugarloaf) also have snack bars. Perhaps enjoy the killer view from Sugarloaf while having a beer and a snack and letting the little one run a bit.

George's choice of Sol Ipanema is also a good one, but for just a couple of days, almost constant traffic congestion can be a minus for the Sheraton.

Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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5. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Good stuff. Also, if you stay at the Sheraton, be sure and skip getting a taxi from the hotel bell hop stand and walk to the street...it will be much cheaper!

Boston...
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6. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Thanks for all the helpful comments. Any thoughts on the Mar Ipanema Hotel? It appears to have a good location, decent amenities, and reasonable rates. It is two streets removed from the beach -- but still safe right? The Mar Ipanema compares favorably to the Best Western Sol Ipanema and the Sheraton Rio in terms of traveler reviews. Here are the "recommend" percentages from Tripadvisor (Mar 82%, Sol 87%, Sheraton Rio 62%) and the scores from Booking.com (Mar 7.8, Sol 7.9, and Sheraton 6.8). The Mar Ipanema Hotel seems like a decent option particulary given that we won't be spending our entire trip on the beach.

Houston-Lisbon-Rio...
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7. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

Greetings,

The Mar Ipanema is fine, the reason I didn't suggest it at first is because I thought you wanted a hotel across from the beach; but the Mar Ipanema is a good hotel and the area is safe.

As to walking around at night, I don't recommend long walks especially if you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood. At night it is generally always best to take a taxi, even if for short distances.

Also, after sunset avoid walking on the beach or on the sidewalk adjoining the beach. Keep your strolls, evening strolls that is, on the hotel side of beach fronting streets.

During the day, the Copa, Ipanema and Leblon areas are reasonably secure and you will probably note the presence of Tourist Police especially in the Ipanema / Leblon section of Zona Sul.

Another thing to do, if you like shopping malls, is to take in a couple hours at one of Rio's shpping centers. Shopping Leblon, and Shopping Barra are both worth a walk-thru. You will get much better deals on touristy souvenirs at the Hippe Fair (which is only open on Sundays) but the shopping malls are great options for passing time while in Rio.

Safe travels to you!

George B.

Edited: 11 August 2010, 14:31
Salvador, BA
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8. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

As far as location goes.....Av. Viera Souto is the street that runs along the beach in Ipanema, which actually gets a bit deserted after beach hours, but the main commercial street (2 short blocks back), and the one with the most movement, is Visconde de Piraja, which is where the Mar Ipanema is, corner of Anibal de Mendonca. (Check the maps on www.ipanema.com to see this, or on the hotel's own site.) I've stayed one more block back, at Anibal de Mendonca with Barao de Torre (at Pousada Margarida), and it was wonderful--easy to the beach, easy to the Lagoa de Freitas too, easy stroll to the Hippie Fair. There's a supermarket not far away on Visconde de Piraja. (Only thing I would advise is not walking near the "canal" (look for the words Jardin de Allah on the map, near a strip of green), that separates Ipanema from Leblon, after dark.

Safety in Brazil is more a matter of planning, good judgement, vigilance, and sometimes pure luck, than anything else (like location between one tourist area and another), IMO.

9. Re: 2 nights in Rio w/ toddler -- help w/ hotel & itinerary

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