Reunited In Rio — Father And Son In Brazil Part 1

I’ve traveled the world far and wide, but one dream I hadn’t accomplished until this year was to visit Brazil with my dad. He had hardly ever traveled outside of Europe, except for a few trips to the U.S.A. in the 1980s and the one time he joined me for a trip to Dubai. He had always shown interest in Brazil (and in Brazilian women 😂), so I had always wanted to take him there to see it for himself.

My father is already a bit physically restricted, as he’s had a few toes cut off due to diabetes and some other medical issues. I wanted to take this trip with him before he got too old to do it comfortably. So in January of this year, just after my Antarctica trip, my dad flew out to meet me in Brazil. We spent three weeks in South America together, with two weeks in Brazil and the third in Argentina. He and I enjoyed a fantastic trip, so I’ll regale you with the story of our father-son adventure to Latin America.

I was happy to shake off the Antarctic chill under the Brazilian sun. 🌞

Rainchecking Brazil

My dad and I had this trip planned for a couple of years, but it ended up being postponed several times. The first time, we had to put off the trip due to some of my dad’s health issues. He was originally supposed to join me in 2018 when I went to Rio de Janeiro with a few friends to celebrate Carnival. Unfortunately, he needed some medical procedures around that time that prevented him from traveling abroad. 😞

When he was healthy enough to travel again after recovering from his medical procedures, the whole world was struck by the pandemic. Unlike me, my dad wasn’t comfortable traveling abroad with most of the world in lockdown. That pretty much kept him grounded in Europe for another three years, much to my chagrin. Finally, by the start of 2023, the coronavirus was mostly a thing of the past, and we could make this dream trip a reality.

Cheers to turning another dream into reality in 2023! 🍻

Reunited in Rio

I booked my dad a flight from Germany to Rio de Janeiro with a layover in Portugal, so he just had to switch planes once in Europe and then fly directly to Rio de Janeiro from there. I wanted to make the long day of travel as easy as possible for him by minimizing the layovers.

In the meantime, I flew from Antarctica to Punta Arenas to Santiago de Chile to Rio de Janeiro, where I arrived briefly before my father and waited for him by his arrival gate. Somehow, we managed to miss each other when he first disembarked from his flight, but we found each other at the airport just before midnight and caught a taxi to our hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

The view from our hotel the next morning 🤩

We planned to spend four nights in Rio de Janeiro to do all the usual tourist things. I had already been to Rio about five times, but I was still happy to show my father around the city. We stayed at the Emiliano Rio De Janeiro Hotel, one of the best hotels in Rio, which is conveniently located at the Copacabana. Everything around town was already closed by the time we arrived on our first night, so we decided to go to bed and rest up for our tour of Rio the following day.

After my break from the internet for the duration of my Antarctica trip (surprise! There’s no internet in Antarctica 😱), I was ready to get back to a regular work schedule.

Back to work, now on my new and improved Chromebook.

In this timezone, I had to work in the mornings, so most days we left the hotel around 11 am to explore, eat, and enjoy the city. I spent most of my time in Rio showing my dad all the typical tourist attractions in and around the city, and we also got to spend time with some of my Brazilian friends the following day.

Sugarloaf Mountain

On our first day in town, we drove out to the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and rode the glass-walled cable car up to the peak at nearly 400 meters of altitude.

Riding up to Sugarloaf Mountain on the cable car

As I mentioned, my father’s mobility is somewhat limited, so he gets tired pretty easily and needs to sit down and rest after walking about 100 meters. We didn’t let his physical restrictions stop us from doing what we wanted, though. We just found accommodations to make things a bit easier for him to manage, so we still did a lot of sightseeing around Rio.

Summiting Sugarloaf Mountain was no problem for my dad with the help of the cable car. From the peak, we could take in the amazing panoramic views of Copacabana and the surrounding mountains.

Amazing views from the top of Sugarloaf

After returning to sea level from Sugarloaf Mountain, I took my dad to a nice Brazilian rodizio-style restaurant called Churrascaria Palace. Rodizio-style restaurants have lots of delicious meats roasting on skewers, which the waiters bring around and serve at the tables. 😋 You pay a fixed price when you walk in, and then you basically fill up on meat slice by slice until you’re stuffed. Much like me, my father is an enthusiastic meat-eater, so we had a lot of fun gorging on tons of tasty meat together.

A small taste of the meat we ate that night 🤤

A Night at the Stadium

I was pretty impressed by how much energy my dad had on the first full day of our trip. That night, instead of taking it easy and shaking off the jetlag, my dad let me take him out for a real Brazilian experience that was new to both of us. 🙌 The night of our first full day in town, we went to see a football game at the famous Maracanã Stadium. Of course, I had heard plenty about the stadium on prior trips, but this was my first time seeing a game there in person.

Welcome to Maracanã Stadium

Maracanã Stadium, officially known as Estádio do Mário Filho, was built in 1950 and is still the biggest football stadium in Brazil and the third largest in South America. We went there to see the local teams play a game, and we had a great time cheering on Fluminense FC as they played against their rivals.

We went to see the game with a guide and a handful of other tourists because anything can happen in a stadium like that, and it was fascinating to watch all the action up close. Shortly before my trips to Antarctica and Brazil, I saw the World Cup finals in Qatar in December of 2022. That’s another story worth telling… maybe I’ll fill you all in on that after I finish telling you about my father-son trip. Anyway, it was an amazing experience to watch the game there with my dad. My Brazilian associate Danilo joined me there too, and he gave me a Fluminense tricot that I wore during the game.

Enjoying the football game with my dad, all decked out in my Fluminense tricot 😎

The game itself was fun to watch, but probably the best part of the experience was seeing the Brazilian people react to it. Although the stadium was barely a quarter full, emotions were running high, and the atmosphere felt electric, especially in comparison to the football games at German stadiums.

Familiar Faces

The next day, we met my friends Danilo and Francisco from my Brazilian partner blog in Barra de Tijuca, a big upper-class suburb just outside of Rio’s city center. We had lunch at a nice restaurant there and enjoyed their company for a while.

After having lunch with my friends, I took my dad up to Corcovado, where the famous Christ the Redeemer statue is located.

Visiting “the son of the creator” alongside my own creator 🤣

We took the cable car up to the top so my dad wouldn’t have to climb the mountain. The cable car runs on a track, and there are great views to see on the way up. Of course, the views were even better from the summit. Once you reach the top of the cable car’s track, you can take a short hike from there or use the escalators. We took the escalators up and made a loop around the Christ.

Our view from the top

There were a bunch of tourists around, but my father still really enjoyed the experience. The view was phenomenal, as we could see all of Rio and beyond in every direction. My dad loved it, and while it wasn’t my first time up there, I enjoyed seeing it anew through his eyes. 😌

Descending From Great Heights

The next afternoon, we went to Santa Teresa in the hills of central Rio. Santa Teresa is a nice area that’s close enough to the favelas to have a good panoramic view of them. We walked through the hills for a while, gazing upon the colorful houses all crowded together and watching street wagons passing through the narrow roads.

Looking out at the colorful favela

In Santa Teresa, I took my dad to my favorite bar out there, which is called Explorer Bar. We had a good lunch and some cocktails there before walking around some more and just taking in the views.

Enjoying a “hooker’s mule” at my favorite cocktail bar in Rio

I also took my dad to Escadaria Selaron, Rio’s world-famous painted staircase. The staircase consists of 300 steps from Santa Teresa down to Lapa and then down to the central part of the city. The walk down this staircase was quite challenging for my dad, but with time and patience, we managed to get him all the way down to the bottom of the stairs. 💪 The staircase is quite steep, so we had to go very slowly, but my dad achieved this feat without too many problems.

Our view from the bottom of the famous staircase

After getting down the stairs, my dad and I took a taxi to buy some souvenirs, including some bracelets that he wore for the rest of the trip, so I think that was a lot of fun for him as well.

Exploring the Bairros

Other than that, we mostly spent our time in Rio exploring the different neighborhoods, or “bairros” in Portuguese, of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. We walked around a decent amount and enjoyed some time at the beaches. My dad didn’t want to go in the water, but we still had a lot of fun walking around, stopping at beach bars, and drinking some refreshing caipirinhas.

Taking in some nice views around town

We also visited some nice restaurants, plenty of bars, and a few shopping centers, and we took a ride on Yup Star, the largest Ferris wheel in Latin America. The top of the Yup Star is 88 meters high, and from there we could look out at Sugarloaf Mountain, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and Rio’s city center. The Ferris wheel is so modern that it’s even air conditioned in the summertime to keep clients cool during the 15-20 minute ride.

Rio is full of stunning views, and many of them don’t even require a hike.

After a good few days of enjoying the atmosphere in Rio, we were ready for the next leg of our trip to take us to the Brazilian Amazon. Check in again next time to join us on our wild Amazonian adventure!