Rio My Rio

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My Rio, Rio by the Sea-o,
Flying down to Rio where there’s rhythm and rhyme.
Hey feller, twirl that old propeller,
Got to get to Rio and we’ve got to make time.
You’ll love it, soaring high above it

Fred Astaire

People who know me, also know that I love lists. And before we we went to Rio, I bought the Eyewitness travel guide “Top 10 Rio de Janeiro“, which is absolutely more handy and entertaining than the Lonely Planet guide. The Eyewitness guide includes a lot of lists of things to do, places to see and very good maps (also with different lists). There is no information about wheelchair access though. So we had to use Google or find out things for ourselves regarding that issue. Still I recommend the Eyewitness travel guide for a visit to Rio de Janeiro.


After spending two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, these are the words that comes to my mind:

  1. Hot and sunny
    We experienced a heat wave while in Rio, with a record temperature of 43C one of the days. Mysteriously enough, as a Norwegian, I could handle the heat much better than I thought. Having a pool nearby seemes like a good thing anyway, since the beaches are not wheelchair accessible.
  2. Breathtaking
    Rio is breathtaking. Fortunately in the more psychological way this time around (those knowing my relationship with Finnish pain killers will know what I am talking about). I am thinking of the beautiful beaches, the wonderful views and the amazing fireworks!
  3. Under development
    Soccer championship and the Olympics are coming up, and Brazil is definitely a country in positive development. With a female president, ecoP1010494nomy is improving and crime rate has decreased with 30% in the last years. Wheelchair access is better than we thought it would be. But there is still some developing to do, before the Cariocas can call Rio de Janeiro a wheelchair accessible city. But it was absolutely doable for a 2 week holiday.
  4. Smelly
    I guess this partially had to do with the heatwave. But Rio is smelly. It smells of sweat, sunscreen, barbeque, sea and…urine. However, the visual impressions make you forget about the smell. Most of the time. ;-)
  5. Tasty
    If you are a fan of fresh fruit and well prepared meat, you will find a lot of good places to enjoy in Rio. Restaurants are not cheap, but compared to Norwegian prices I guess you can get a good meal for around 50-60 % of the price.  Don’t forget to try a capirinha (or a capivodka as I preferred) with limao (lime) or morango (strawberry).
Mosteiro de Sao Bento is wheelchair accessible if you arrive by car.

My top 10 things to do in Rio:

  1. Celebrating Reveillion
  2. Rendezvous with Jesus
  3. Views from the Sugar Loaf Mountain
  4. Beach Bar Wheeling & People Watching
  5. Dining at a rodizio restaurant
  6. Seeking shadow under the trees in Jardim Botanico
  7. Listening to bossa nova in Lapa
  8. Being cultural – at the Mosteiro da São Bento & the Modern Museum
  9. Visit the Hippie Market
  10. Wheeling around the Lagoa

    Marius is more about the interior than the service. The peculiar floor (covered in different material) can be a challenge for wheelies.

Top 10 places to eat, drink and enjoy

  1. Porcao’s Rio **
  2. La Fabrique
  3. Marius *
  4. Si senor **
  5. Allessandro & Frederico **
  6. Bar do Lado 
  7. Sarau’s Rio – for drinks and music *
  8. Martinez Restaurante **
  9. Balada Mix – for burgers and fruit
  10. Praia Skol 360 – best beach bar *

* Level entrance with or without ramp
** Level entrance & disabled friendly toilets

Top 10 things NOT to do in Rio:

  1. Get robbed – fortunately we weren’t
  2. Get a flat tire
  3. Go on a favela tour – we investigated – but they were not wheelchair accessible
  4. Withdraw cash from an ATM on December 28th
  5. Choose the wrong hotel – most Rio hotels have narrow doors. Check in advance!
  6. Go shopping in Barra shoppping – nice shopping centre (the biggest in South America), but nothing interesting to buy. At least no shoes… ;-)
  7. Communicate without a dictionary
  8. Drive yourself – it is easy to find your way around, but people drive like maniacs 
  9. Buy peanuts from the peanut sellers
  10. Trust your mobile phone
P1010507 kopi
Peanut seller method: Leave some nuts on your table. If you eat them, they will come back and sell you more (and possibly charge you).

Top 10 ‘fun facts’ about Rio:

1. When you think it is raining – it’s most likely drops from the many airconditions (unless you are travelling with Grybetrotter)


2. There are no limits to what kind of skills you can learn from the ”do it yourself”-magazines you can buy in the news stands. There are own magazines for swimming pools (Piscinas) and plastic surgery even!


3. 100 reais = 49USD, 37Euros, 272NOK


4. Acai products have so many anti oxidants you cannot even count them


5. Brazillian Christmas trees are white and/or colorful


6. You can go to the gym outside


7. It’s forbidden by law to discriminate gay people. Disabled people however…


8. You can (and probably must) buy your own wheelchair


9. Jesus is online!


10. Use a travel agency for domestic travels! This helpful lady helped my travel companions get safely on the bus to Sao Paulo without getting lost in translation.


And where does this leave us? I guess it’s time to quit making lists from Rio and start making plans for my next holiday. Wherever that might be.

But someday, I might be going back to Rio my Rio… :-)


Reveillon in Rio

About robots, wheelchairs and identity


2 thoughts on “Rio My Rio”

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog. I haven’t worked my way all the way back so you may have already covered this: How are the restrooms wheelchair accesswise?

    • I would say pretty good. As you can see from this blogpost 4 of the restaurants we visited had wheelchair accesible toilets. Some of them might have been on the smaller side for a big power chair, but no problem with a manual chair. All (at least I think so) the guard towers at the beach had wheelchair accessible toilets. Also the botanical garden had 2 accessible toilets (one in the entrance and one in the park) and Sugar Loaf Mountain. At Corcovado we did not check. If you need side-transfer to the toilet, many of the restrooms could be somewhat problematic, I guess. I have photos from the bathrooms in both the hotels we stayed (Marina Palace Hotel at Ipanema and Royal Rio Palace at Copacabana) if you are interested. Both rooms had wheel-in showers.

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