RIO BITS: SANTA TERESA03:15:00
Instead of writing one long wrambly Rio travel post, I have decided to keep it bite sized and do a number of shorter posts for different quarters in Rio. This first one is about my favourite neighbourhood in Rio and my home for the last four weeks: Santa Teresa. The bohemian quarter, the spreads across the slope of one of Rio´s beautiful mountains is famous for its colonial architecture, great bars and restaurants and for being the home for Rio´s artists since the 60s. Once home to the upper class of the 18th and 19th century, fleeing noise and yellow fever in the hectic centre, it can still only be reached by bus or the iconic Bonde, the little yellow tram, but its remote location also means most of the beautiful architecture there is still intact plus you have an incredible view across the city.
To get there simply climb up from the famous Escaleria Selaron in Lapa or take the Bonde up from the station next to the Catedral Metropolitana (Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm) to the main square Largo dos Guimaraes.
Simply strolling around in Santa Teresa is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, simply admiring the cute little houses and famous street art the quarter is so well known for. If you follow Rua Almirante Alexandrino a little way up from the main square you will see some great graffiti and also find one of the old trams, that a local artist has converted into an art installation gleaming with colour and feauturing some weird looking little family portraits, brazilian flags and other metal cutouts. If the artist is present you can also buy some pieces of this huge artwork as an extra special souvenir.
Bar dos Descasados
Once you have explored enough and make your way back down towards the main square, you might want to make a stop at Hotel Santa Teresa, one of Rio´s finest hotels. While me and you probably can´t afford a stay there just yet (the cheapest rooms start at 300 Euros per night), everyone is allowed to get a drink at the hotel´s bar Bar dos Casados. And while the Caipirinhas here are slightly pricier than elsewhere in Rio with 35 B$ (about 10 Euros) the view is absolutely worth it. In English the name of the bar means bar of the divorcees, since freaky Santa Teresa was one of the only places where divorcees were able to mingle in more conservative times, but today all types of relationship statuses are welcomed with open arms.
Parque das Ruínas
Another unmissable view is the panorama from the top of Parque das Ruínas. This renovated mansion used to be one of the hotspots of Rio´s artists and intellectuals, gathered here at the famous salons of Laurinda Santos Lobo. A staircase, some steel and some glass have been added after her death and now you can oversee both the impressive modern Centro of Rio, with its skyscrapers as well as the Lagoon and the Sugar Loaf in the distance.
Now after all of this exploring you should head back to the main square for some tasty snacks. The best Pao de Quejo I have tasted so far is sold in the little café Cultivar in Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno. Opposite is a beautiful little bar/café called with a gorgeous little terrace. I also really loved Café do Alto, offering delicious North Easter cuisine for a small budget, but apparently also some really good breakfast.