By Alison McGowan
February 15, 2011

If you didn’t know the Casa da Carmen e do Fernando existed you would almost certainly walk right past it, as I did! There is no sign outside and the house is one of a row of seemingly one story terraced houses which front one of the many streets leading up to Santa Teresa from Gloria. It is only when you walk in that you see how spacious the place is and how beautiful the refurbishment of what was, in a previous life, a cake shop.

There are only 3 rooms available for guests here and all are pretty small and basic, but at the same time clean and comfortable with en-suite shower rooms, air conditioning and, best of all, fabulous views over Guanabara bay. However it’s unlikely you’ll be spending much time in your room anyway. You are much more likely to be out there chilling on the terrace with its sun loungers, plunge pool and honesty bar, or partying and dancing in the bars and music places of nearby Santa Teresa and Lapa.

Brazilian owners, Carmen and Fernando, have been receiving guests for 11 years now and they actually live on site, so there is very much a family atmosphere here. Together with the small friendly staff they pride themselves on making sure everyone feels at home and guests are treated individually very much more as a friend than a paying guest. If you are travelling independently and you want to be in an informal place, with great views, close to both good transport and nightlife, you really couldn’t find a more perfect place.

Santa Teresa is a wonderfully hidden part of Rio de Janeiro, perched on a hill between the centre of the city and Zona Sul, where most of the beaches are. Long known for its bohemian culture, and infamous for being home for decades to Ronnie Biggs, of Great Train Robbery fame, the area is a delight of old colonial mansions, and cobbled streets, served by old style trams. The slower, more “alternative” pace of life here attracts artists, musicians and writers, many of whom hang out in the numerous bars and restaurants dotted about the place. For travellers who prefer laid back charm and history to being right close to a beach, it’s a wonderful place to stay.

Not To Be Missed
– Guided tour round the historical centre of Rio & Corcovado
– Bars and restaurants in Lapa: Nova Capela, Semente, Pedra do Sal
– Pre-carnival visits to Mangueira samba school
– Santa Teresa bars: Bar do Mineiro, SobreNatural, Espirito Santa

* Delightful, helpful staff
* Views over Guanabara bay
* Laid back atmosphere
* Location between Gloria & Santa Teresa, walking distance from Lapa

Try a different place if…
… you have mobility problems or you prefer a more formal, upmarket sort of place

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on Visit her site at

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Lagoa das Cores, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Naturalia, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ilha de Toque Toque Boutique Hotel, São Sebastiao, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Eco-Rio Lodge, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Amazon Tupana Lodge, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Luar do Rosario, Milho Verde, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chal Oasis, Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijo do Vento, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada 0031, Cumbuco, Cear
Brazil: Maguire’s Guesthouse, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Casa do Amarelindo, Salvador, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casarão da Amaznia, Soure, Ilha de Marajo, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Mila, nr. Ubatuba, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Beleza, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Bambu Bamboo Pousada and Spa, Parati, Rio de Janeiro
Random Ramblings on the Weather in Brazil
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijamar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel 7 Colinas, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Estrela do Mar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

By David Persons
February 15, 2011

Back in the USA my wife (Brazilian) and I never really gave much thought to raising our family in Brazil, since we were well established there, but late 2006 as we felt the crisis coming we started to discuss the possibilities of international relocation. Since the US economy was heading towards a collapse and by mid 2007 we had made the final decision to relocate to Brazil after carefully considering the alternatives…

By relocating we would be able to maintain a similar quality of life and continue private schooling for our children, which was and has always been our priority from the beginning. We then made the Move” internationally, we loaded up our house into a container and shipped it out. In 45 days our home would arrive so we had made arrangements for a place to stay until the container with our house contents in it arrived.
We immediately enrolled the children in a parochial school known to be one of the best to the region. Our son, 3 at the time, spoke no Portuguese yet had a fair understanding. Our daughter, who was 5 at the time, spoke English well and had a good handle on Portuguese. The school accepted them with open arms and our daughter was socializing and adapting very well. Our son was able to do the same as a toddler, he could figure it all out except for the language. But his sister was called upon several times throughout the day to translate during the process.

As time went on we discovered that our son was switching his first language to Portuguese and ended up doing so, as our daughter has managed to keep English as her first language and dominate Portuguese. The children now communicate only in Portuguese between themselves and I the “American” of the family continue to speak only in English with them both. This enables our daughter to maintain a healthy English vocabulary and our son has started to take interest in English again at the bold age of 5. He mimics his sister and yet he understands about 70% of what we say.

We enrolled the children into a new private school well known in the region – it has been around for more than 100 years, although not Catholic, but has smaller classes. They teach English there too. The 7 hour school day in the US was great, but the 4 hour school day in Brazil just does not teach the same. We have set up home study for them to strengthen their academic skills. At this time we administer the home study in Portuguese to reinforce their current learning environment. We also have some great material in English that we use to keep the “American” in them alive.

From their birth until now we definitely let them know that they are special, have a gift of two nationalities, and that they are Americans being raised in Brazil. We keep their culture alive with DVDs, music, books, education and food. We set an American meal with all the trimmings on the table 2 or 3 times a week. It is normal for them to eat meat, potatoes and gravy (yummy) – they love it. Rice and beans also have a place on our table on the other days.

In a nut shell it’s about values. Everything about them, all the way down to their DNA, has American written all over it, and they were aware of their heritage from day one. Just as we did in the US we are doing in Brazil and it seems to be working well so far…

Previous articles by David:

In Brazil for the Long Haul
The Brazilian Dream 20 Years in the Making

By Steve Nelson
February 15, 2011

There are many ways to see a country or a city. Rio has a whole host of different places to see and different ways to see them – cable cars, trails, wings, boards, kites, helicopters, planes, trains and automobiles. Perhaps one way not considered by many people though is to see Rio on foot, or at least a good deal of it anyway. The Rio de Janeiro Marathon is a wonderful way to do this. You can also combine it with a first visit to the city and perhaps some time relaxing by the beach in Buzios or on Ilha Grande afterwards.

If a whole 26 miles/42km of running in the tropical heat of the world’s most exotic city doesn’t appeal to you, there is also the Half-Marathon and a 6km Family Run. They all take place on 17 July for the 2011 version. July is the middle of what passes for winter in Rio, and although it may still be anything up to 30˚C on a clear, sunny day, there is never the humidity of January or February, so even the hottest days are bearable. Temperatures on a cool, cloudy day can drop considerably, well below 20˚C especially if the weather comes from the south.

The temperatures won’t be a worry for the first few hours at least anyway, the gun fires at 7.30am. If you needed any extra reason to participate, perhaps being able to say that you heard gunfire in Rio but weren’t scared at all might swing it for you. The Rio de Janeiro Marathon is run mostly along the coast, obviously a wise choice in a city built around mountains, and as well as having no real inclines to speak of, the other important benefit is that runners receive the Atlantic breezes just about the whole 42km.

An early start gives you chance to appreciate the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean by Praia do Pontal in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, one of the final beaches of the city before the mountains take over. The race starts backwards, heading out of Rio before turning 180˚ at the pontal, the wonderful little headland that gives the beach its name. There are regular water points even at this early stage as the first 15km cover the emptiest beach in Rio, Praia da Reserva , on your right with the Lagoa de Marapendi Reserve protecting the area from any development all along your left. There may be surfers to watch, with the Tijuca Forest and Pico de Tijuca, Rio’s highest mountains, plus the Moai-like Pedra da Gvea ahead on your left the whole way.

After arriving in Barra de Tijuca high-rise buildings and condominiums appear for the next 5km until the halfway point. This is where you leave the longest beach in Rio to enter what might be welcome shade. The two tunnels between Barra and São Conrado are about the only break from the views. The Elevado do Jo motorway gives you a scenic break from any weather between the two tunnels. This would be the only time running is recommended on this road…

After arriving on São Conrado, the hang-gliders descending from Pedra Bonita might need to be avoided, before you reach the only incline of the marathon after 25km, unfortunately placed where you may begin to hit the wall. The Avenida Neimeyer hugs the coastline between Rocinha and Vidigal, two of Rio’s most famous favelas. You may find this the safest day of all on the coast road, although this is nothing to do with the favelas. Rio bus drivers tend to treat this stretch of road as a racetrack, and plenty of them have probably hit the wall along here too. After a few twists and turns, with waves crashing on the rocks below you, the whole stretch of Leblon and Ipanema Beaches appears to energise you at 30km.

You drop down to two of the most famous roads in Rio, which will be full of all kinds of Sunday beach activities and outfits to spur you on to impress the crowds, with the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue visible occasionally between buildings. Passing Arpoador at 35km you come out at the end of Copacabana Beach, another marvellous stretch of sand, curving away from you.

At the far end of Copacabana, you enter the final tunnel to arrive in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain at 40km, as you curve around the little inlet of Botafogo, decorated with boats. The finishing line should be in sight as you come around the final bend and into Flamengo. Glory is yours if you’ve made it as far as the Marina da Glória!

And there you have it. A 42km tour of Rio. On foot. Such great views all along that you won’t even notice the blisters. Who needs any other mode of transport when you can enjoy it all like this?

The Rio de Janeiro Marathon is open to all-comers, feel free to contact me if you want to participate as a beginner or even to compete seriously. I will see you at the start-line and hopefully at the finishing line too.

You can visit Steve’s blog at Around Brazil: Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro
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