December 27th, Rio de Janeiro
Thursday we decided to take a walk on the wild side. Uhm…the green side, I mean. We checked out of the hotel at Leblon and took a taxi to the botanical garden (Jardim Botânico) situated North of the lake (Lagoa).
The Botanical Garden shows the diversity of Brazilian and foreign flora. There are around 6,500 species (some endangered) throughout an area of 54 hectares, and there are many greenhouses. The Garden also has historical monuments and buildings. It is open every day except December 25 and the 1st of January.
Since December means summer season in Rio there were almost no flowers blooming. But the best thing in Jardim Botânico is to take a walk among the many giant trees, where you can seek shadow from the burning summer heat in Rio. If you haven’t felt tiny before, you will definitely get the feeling here.
The garden cafe is supposed to be a good place for a snack, if you bother to stand in the relative long line and wait for them to prepare the food. We just enjoyed a soda under a papaya tree (or something similar), but the food looked good at least. Fruit was falling from the tree (squashing to the ground), but miraculously we were not hit on the head…
Most of the carden is accessible with a wheelchair. There are steps to get to some of the plants and lookout points (with small waterfalls), but all the paths are covered with hard packed sand and they are easy to wheel. If you are a slow walker, they have a park vehicle that can drive you around the garden.
There are some bad cobble stones at the entrance. But there is another entrance (however we didn’t understand what the guard was talking about). At the accessible entrance they also have 3 disabled parking spots. Next to the cafe (and in the park) they have an accessible toilet. As many disabled toilets it does not have a lock. Mosquitos however, were having a ball in there. But fortunately we haven’t had any symptoms of dengue fever yet…
If you are into flowers, this garden might not be the thing in December. But if you are a sucker for really really old and tall trees (of all kinds), you will love it there. I especially liked the pathway with giant palmtrees. It really gives you the feeling that you are in an exotic place.
If you have a boyfriend and want to smooch at the bench in front of the waterfall – be aware of the egdy stones that are surrounding the bench. We have a theory that this is what caused Ingrid’s flat tire (which is now really really flat). At least I hope that was the reason, because then I am not the single person to blame (because I overfilled her tires). It’s very cute though, kissing in front of a tropical waterfall… 😉
After the park visit, we decided to walk from the gardens to the pool in Leblon, down Bartholomeu street. Most pavements had curbcuts here as well, but we had to wheel in the bicycle lane and street sometimes. It’s probably more convenient to take a taxi.
We had lunch at the juice bar Bibi, where we needed help from the locals at the neighbour table to translate the menu. Good travel tip in Brazil: Bring a good dictionary that covers food. The food was ok, but the strawberry and kiwi juice was refreshing and very tasteful. Fruit of all kinds is THE thing to eat & or drink in Brazil.
Later that night we headed off to Copacabana to meet and greet our friends, who had arrived from Norway that night. It turned out that they had been more lucky with luggage and transportation issues than we had, so we were 5 minutes too late to meet & greet. Fortunately they forgave us, when we showed them the hotel roof terrace (6 steps to get up). We celebrated with a nightcap at the roof at Royal Rio Palace, watching some soft porn going on in the pool. 😉
The next chapter of our Rio holiday was about to begin… 🙂