Rio Exploring on Bahar’s Birthday - Day 432-433
Travelling back to Rio, our third time in this delightful city so that we could do more Rio exploring on Bahar’s Birthday.
After a pleasant journey amongst the rolling hills and valleys from Ouro Preto, we reached Rio an hour early. I am sure these buses are making up for our dreadful ride to Salvador. Phew! Rio was hot…hot ..hot, a lot hotter than 11 days ago when we were last here.
We got to our Airbnb, a room on the 2nd floor of a grand old building just one street from Ipanema beach. Our host Epson was delightful, chatting about travel and different countries. It seems more like a tiny hostel for #grownuptravellers than an Airbnb. As well as us, there were two male air stewards for Air New Zealand. Crikey, they were fit! Also, a couple from near Buenos Aires who I managed to pick their brains about places to visit in Argentina.
After settling in, I contacted our friend Bahar to meet for dinner. I met Bahar a few years back in Istanbul when I was Sue Knight’s apprentice; we have been friends ever since. She is here on holiday with her cousin Memo, and when we heard this, we made sure we could be back in Rio to spend some time with her. A lovely evening was had by all, catching up on our news, discovering that it takes 9 hours to have long hair extensions added to short hair and the trials and tribulations of washing it and sleeping in these extra long locks…and much, much laughter.
Day 433 we slept in. I think all these long overnight bus rides had caught up with us. We walked to Bahar and Memo’s Airbnb. It’s her birthday, so hugs all around. She had heard about a very grand place we could go to for brunch: Confeitaria Colombo. After a 20-minute Uber ride, we went down a narrow, cobbled street to find this beautiful, decadent café. Glass cabinets filled with delightful looking pastries greeted us, over 50,000 are sold each month.
Opened in 1894, this beautiful café with brocade mirrors, stained-glass windows in the ceiling and galleried restaurant above creates a luxurious setting for our much-needed meal. We sat at round marble-topped tables, just as many distinguished guests have in the past, including Queen Elizabeth II, no less. Brunch was rather heavy on the carbs side, with plenty of bread, pastries and cake; my white chocolate éclair was rather delicious though.
We waddled down to the Olympic Boulevard, needing a bit of exercise after that big brunch and got down to the Museum of Tomorrow, but after seeing the long queue, decided that visiting inside this incredible building won’t be for today, and definitely not for tomorrow for us. Luckily the Art Museum had a much shorter queue.
The lift of the Art Museum took us up to the top floor for views of the harbour, and we then walked down the stairs, stopping off at each themed level, with paintings, photos, videos and sounds depicting Samba, African influence, Women, Festivals. As I was walking down the stairs to the last floor, I thought this was going to be about conflict, as I could hear loud bangs. As I walked in, about six large drums were hanging down with thick rope, with children having fun, banging these as loud as possible. Well, not all children as at one of the drums was Tim, with a massive grin on his face. I had to have a go myself as well!
Our next stop was to see the grand façade of the Theatro Municipal overlooking Cinelândia Square. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful and important theatres in the country, and I can see why. Stunningly beautiful with domes, columns and much gold; Bahar and I were wondering how we could scratch off some of the gold and stick it in our hair like the legendary slave, Chico Rei. Some of our ideas were slightly over the top, followed by much laughter.
It was time for a break of being tourists, and we had a well-deserved fresh fruit juice to quench our thirst. It was so lovely to sit and chat, with Bahar sharing her innermost devilish secrets. We both love her honesty, openness and her wonderful humour. There is always much laughter being with Bahar.
After a chillax at our Airbnb, we met up again at Teva, a vegan restaurant that Memo recommended. This was surprising especially as he mainly eats meat. I am sure he found this place because I don’t eat meat; how kind of him. Memo is such a lovely guy and so interesting; he used to be the Turkish heavyweight boxing champion in 2005 and has been greatly involved in snowboarding from the age of 10, including organising events for Redbull.
Our waiter Luaan, was fabulous, very attentive with excellent English (even though he kept apologising that it wasn’t perfect). He shared that this small vegan restaurant has been featured in a magazine article of the best 10 vegan restaurants in the world. When our food turned up, we could understand why.
For starters, we shared plates of mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower. This certainly doesn’t sound exciting, yet the flavours were unbelievable. Even meat-eating, nonveggie eating Memo enjoyed it! We were so stuffed that we shared three main meals between the four of us, Squash and coconut curry, ravioli and a burger made from mushrooms. This was the nicest veggie burger by far I have ever tasted. 11/10 for this place for service, taste and also for our wonderful time with Bahar and Memo. An evening to remember.