Rio is scenic with its long golden beaches and the rounded peaks surrounding the city. Walking along Copacabana beach is an absolute pleasure with plenty of opportunities to sit down in bars lining the beach and a chance to catch some music in some of them. I would recommend against visiting the city centre on a sunday as it is completely empty and most things are closed. Best head to the beach where all the cliche presents with toned and tanned bodies playing beach volleyball, football, or enjoying a drink or two.
Iguazu is impressive with its panoramic surround of a waterfall that is in some ways difficult to take in completely in one location. Best to observe from various points from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side of the fall. The brazilian side provides the best overview but the Argentinian side gives a close up to the main fall , the devil’s throat. The location of Iguazu means it provides the opportunity to visit Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil easily in a single day, as long as you don’t mind crossing border posts 8 times and quickly filling up the passport with stamps. An evening experience “Forest” can be arranged which takes place in the bird park, meeting with indigenous tribe sharing their culture, food and endless dancing around a fire.
Sao Paulo is a bustling metropolis with 10 lanes (in one direction) of congested traffic that is certainly prettier in the evening than it is during the day. I suppose when one says the evening view is better, one means the darkness hides all the flaws of an inherently unattractive city. It is perhaps not entirely worth visiting unless you are there for some additional reason other than for sightseeing purposes. It has better food than Rio and certainly pockets of great affluence, but it can’t hide the fact that there is a big gap between the rich and the poor.
Sugar features prominently in brazilian cuisine in the form of juices, sweets, pastry and healthy serving of carbohydrates with meals. Pastel and tapioca pancake can be found in every street corner where they sell a combination of juice, drinks and snacks. Fillings of Pastel vary between shredded chicken, palm hearts and shrimps, among others, all with cheese. The filling ratio can be anything between 20% to absolutely bursting, ideally washed down with sugarcane juice. An accidental overdose of sugar can easily be done when one consumes a tapioca pancake followed by a sugarcane juice which induces a fog of dizziness and a surprising feeling of lethargy. Best combated by a main meal of various combination of grilled meat, served with a double carbs of rice and chips, or feijoada, a bean and meat stew served with rice. A special mention to the fresh chillies which have a great juicy sweetness and pack a punch in its heat.
The sugar content applies to drinks as well, illustrated with the use of sugar and sugar based cachca in their famous cocktail capirinha. Juices tends to be the sweetest to be found: mango, passion fruit and pineapple and the ubiquitous coconut water providing a respite from the sugar onslaught.