After an evening flight the prior day, we began our Rio adventures early to fit in as much action as possible.
Our awesome tour guide and driver, Antonio, dropped us off at our first stop of the day, Christ the Redeemer. Taking a train to the top of the mountain, we got a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Bindu described the experience as, “Disbelief—it did not feel as though the scenery was real because it was so amazing and beautiful.” We climbed stairs to the top, getting a breath-taking (literally!) view with each step. We were taking so many photos that our cheeks were getting sore. As we made our way up the flights of stairs, the statue was in site peering through the trees, and the anticipation was building. Once we got to the final flight, Christ the Redeemer got larger, and the excitement became more tangible. When we finally reached the top, the crowds and cameras were insane. Standing 125 feet tall, the statue was phenomenal. People from all over the world and all walks of life were posing with outstretched arms. Photographers were lying on their backs, giving posing orders, and snapping continuous photos. Emily has quite the knack for taking photos, so everyone in our group lined up to get her to take our photo while we posed fro the ultimate Instagram post. From photos of Bindu on Arren’s shoulders, guns up photos, a photo of the girls, a photo of the boys, a group photo of the Rawls Ambassadors, Mortar Board members, and on and on. We spent a solid couple hours soaking in the view and capturing memories to last a lifetime.
After making the stop for souvenirs, we were back in Antonio’s van and headed to Tijuca Forest to get an experience with nature (and of course, take more photos). The view is known as “vista Chinesa” or “Chinese view.” It was incredibly gorgeous and unlike anything I have ever seen. Afterwards, we took off to the forest to hike. A few in the group ventured off road to explore the forest, follow the creek, and relax on logs in nature. There were even some “Mountain man” photos to show for it! At the end of the hike, we hung out by the waterfall, and once again, (you guessed it) took some MORE photos. While soaking in the serene relaxation of the streaming water, some creatures that looked similar to anteaters came to visit. A whole group of them! Brandi and Brittney even fed one some pistachios until a local motioned with a clamped mouth that the anteaters bite.
Exhausted and ready for some rejuvenation, Antonio picked us up to go eat a late lunch. We ate at a buffet with every option possible called Beco do alemao bar e lanchonete ltd.
After a little bit of a bus tour around Rio, and lots of stopping for photos, we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. A few even ventured to the Copacabana Beach to relax.
A few hours of primping later, we drove through Lapa to look at the famous steps, Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps.’ Antonio explained the colorful steps were done by an artist in Chile as an accolade to the Brazilians.
After fighting traffic, we made it to Rio Scenarium for a night of nice food and dancing. Once we got past trying to order our food from Portuguese only speaking waiters, the food was delicious. We spent the evening passing around lots of laughter, fine wine, rehashing the day, and samba and salsa dancing the night away.
Our first day in Rio was fabulous, filled with lots of bonding, laughs, and college memories we will cherish for a lifetime.
by Brooke Downing