By Stephen Thompson
One of the best things about living in São Paulo is that it's so close to Río de Janeiro. It's quick and easy to get to Río and not necessarily expensive if you book in advance.
Catching a flight to Río de Janeiro is as easy as catching a bus. There are so many flights, you don't need to book. Just turn up at the airport and get the next one. It takes just 40 minutes flying time and the view of the coast is spectacular from the left side of the plane when the weather is fine. (From the right side on the return journey) You can be in the City Of Marvels in under an hour, and on the beach a few minutes later.
You don't have to go far to relax and enjoy yourself once you leave the airport; nearby is the enormous beach and recreation area of Flamengo.
Believe it or not, there is a cycle track which leaves the airport and follows the coast past the Museum of Modern Art to the beach and park area of Flamengo. Even more incredible is that the cycle track actually crosses the runway at Río Santos Dumont airport-there are signs warning cyclists not to cross when planes are landing - but this should not put you off flying; I have yet to hear of a plane crash caused by a cyclist.
Flamengo has the advantage of being close to the airport, and although the water is not clean enough to swim there are lots of trees and plenty of things to do - the park area behind the beach is full of soccer and tennis pitches and people play football and do Capoeira on the beach itself. It's not touristy like Copacabana.
On Sundays and public holidays traffic is rerouted away from the coastal avenues which run along the beaches, which are used for cycling or jogging instead. Bicycles are available for hire.
Flamengo also has a good cinema which shows art films and which is easy to find as it is facing the beach. There is an excellent kilo restaurant on Rua Senador Vergueiro, which serves sushi as well as traditional Brazilian food by the kilo and is open on Sundays. Rua Senador Vergueiro is also good for nightlife, and there are several good bars along it. A nice traditional style hotel with large, bright airy rooms is the hotel Paissandu, on Rua Paissandu. Rooms cost 100 Reais a night for couples and 90 for singles.
So in my opinion, the nearest beach to São Paulo is Río de Janeiro. But if you ask Paulistas which is the nearest good beach to São Paulo, most of them will answer Guaruja; they would prefer to spend three or more hours in their cars (when the traffic is good) and risk being robbed by armed motorcyclists in the traffic than go to Río de Janeiro. I wonder why?
Stephen Thompson runs "O Gaucho", a snack bar serving breakfast, juices, smoothies, sandwiches. For an English menu contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:
Brazil: The Information Technology LawManaging a Brazilian bank account
Brazils Middle Class Ruled By Political Apathy