Rio, With Eyes Open



If you want to know why people come to Rio de Janeiro, and came even during its years of bloody, decadent decline, stand on the Arpoador Beach promenade at day’s end. Before you lies an orchestral finale of a sunset: iridescent water, pastel-streaked skies and hazy silhouettes of cliffs to the west. Behind you are swarms of Cariocas, as Rio natives are known: men with phones tucked into the fronts of their bathing suits, swimmers shaking off droplets of water before ordering caipirinhas at an outdoor bar. At the moment when the neon-pink sun slips below the horizon, everyone stops, stands and claps: a nightly salute to city, beach and sky.

This was part of why my 7-year-old daughter and I traveled to Rio in December, to experience urban beauty so intense that even the locals pause to applaud it. Rio may be the most voluptuous city in the world, with soft beaches, dramatic mountains, waterfalls, a rain forest, lagoon and orchids — planted by residents — peeking out of lush old trees lining the streets. Papayas and jackfruit drop from branches all over town, symbols of the city’s overabundant sweetness. The place makes Miami look like Cleveland.


Read the full article here!


Rio artist Selaron found dead on his mosaic staircase masterpiece

Chilean artist Jorge Selarón on the stairs he spent 20 years decorating. Photograph: Antonio Scorza/AFP

Sad news of the passing of local artist Jorge Selarón. The news as reported by

The ceramic street artist who created one of Rio de Janeiro’s most distinctive landmarks was found dead on Thursday on the spectacular mosaic staircase in Lapa that he decorated with brightly coloured tiles and mirrors over more than two decades.

Jorge Selarón, a Chilean artist who transformed the 215 steps of the Convent of Santa Teresa as a “tribute to the Brazilian people”, had reportedly suffered depression and was being threatened by a former colleague connected to local drug gangs.

No verdict has been given on the cause of death but friends said they had feared he would kill himself because he felt betrayed.

Photographs showed that passersby have already lit candles near the body as a mark of respect for the much loved artist, who went from obscurity to fame but never left the gritty neighbourhood that is at the heart of the city’s Samba culture.

Selarón was primarily a painter in 1990 when he started a small scale renovation of the steep steps that ran outside his house up into the Santa Teresa favela. But the part-time project became a life work.

Sometimes selling his paintings to fund his obsession, he changed the tatty path, tile by tile, fragment by fragment, into a blaze of colour and a globally recognised symbol of Rio.

His steps – often referred to as the Selarón staircase – were designated as a city landmark and appeared in fashion magazines, music videos and films. The artist was declared an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro.

As his notoriety increased so did the value of his paintings and, more recently, the pressures on the artist in an area that is also notorious for crime and drug use. The Globo newspaper said a dispute over the proceeds from his art sales had made him suicidal.

In an interview with the daily shortly before his death, Selarón claimed he was threatened by a former employee of his studio.

Be “tranquilo”…(relaxed and safe!!) while you are traveling in Rio!!!


Considered by many specialist in travel as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is not for nothing that Rio de Janeiro is the main gateway to international tourism in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro has around 6 million people and like any big city in the world has to deal with security issues.  Since Rio was chosen to host  the World Cup 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, different security projects were implemented by the Public Safety Department  like the UPP (Police Pacification Unit), police stations installed inside some of the main favelas (slums) that had helped increase the feeling of security of locals and foreign visitors to the city. However, that is a gradual process that until we get the first big results we should still follow necessary safety tips in order to enjoy most of the beauties of the wonder city.

Safety tips:

  • Avoid carrying the original passport, copies would be enough.
  • Exchange the cash for local currency because most of the establishments accept only Reals.
  • Try to use ATMs during the day. The service only works until 10pm at the banks cash points. Alternatively there are the 24h Supermarkets that usually have an ATM inside.
  • Avoid going out with more than necessary money. Most establishments accept credit cards.
  • Try not going out at the streets wearing jewelry, expensive watches etc. Usually the burglars are young and really fast.
  • Prefer to use the beach chairs for rent offered by the food and drink tents in the sand and preferably not leave personal belongings out of your presence.
  • If you go out with your camera, specially the large ones, always keep it hanging from the neck.
  • Avoid dim streets, alleys with few people walking there.
  • Rio de Janeiro’s downtown area is the best place for the ones interested in local historiy or arquitectural things. There you can find the main musuems and cultural centers. But you should avoid it during the weekends as it will be completely empty.
  • Rio de Janeiro has the world’s biggest urban forrest, known as Tijuca Forrest, and a visit to it is mandatory. But you must have a guide to scort you in the several trials there. So don’t pretend to be Indiana Jones going there by yourself!
  • The buses work well in the city and instructions on how to get them will be given by one of the staffs at Casa Cool Beans. During the night, however, should give preference to taxis.
  • Taxis are safe but prefers the ones who works to priviate companies (knowns as “cooperativa”). To identify them simply observe if they have the name of the cooperative that they belongs stamped in blue stripe painted on the rear side of the car.
  • Most police men do not speak English so if you have something stolen and want to make a record of the incident for insurance purposes, ask at your hotel to guide you using the tourist city police (DEAT), located in Leblon. The service there is in English.

Maiko’s (the Concierge at Casa Cool Beans) choices for this week: Dec 29th to Jan 6th 2012



*O Sacrifício pela Vida na Guarita ( The sacrifice of life in the Guardhouse) at CCBB’s Sala A Contemporânea

The Sala A Contemporânea is a space exclusively dedicated to promote solo exhibitions and unpublished works of contemporary Brazilian artist.

Tue to Sun – 9am – 9pm until Jan 6th 2013.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB), Rua Primeiro de Março 66 – Centro


*The Impressionist

Some of the most important impressionist works of art from the Museu d’Orsay like Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir and Monet are displayed at the CCBB.

Tue to Sun 9am – 9pm – until Jan 13th 2013

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB), Rua Primeiro de Março 66 – Centro



New Year Eve’s Firework Displays at Copacabana Beach

Celebrate the arrival of the year 2013 with a lot of music, in a colorful and environment-friendly way at a sandy beach in Copacabana.

Tuesday, midnight

Copacabana Beach




*Dhi Ribeiro at Rio Scenarium

Dhi Ribeiro signs samba in its various aspects such as romantic samba, samba rock and gafieira (a partner samba dance).

Wednesday, 7:30pm

Rio Scenarium – Rua Lavradio 20, Lapa – Centro

Entrance fee: R$35,00


Sururu na Roda

The group makes a great mix of various genres of Brazilian music, a true musical miscegenation. One of the most popular samba singer of Lapa, Rogê will sign as a special guest.

Thursday, 9pm

Studio RJ – Rua Vieira Souto 110 – Ipanema.

Entrance fee: R$40,00


*The Maze

All night jazz in a mix of bar and guesthouse with one of the greatest night views in Rio

Friday, 8pm

Tavares Bastos 414, Catete

Entrance: R$ 30,00; from 10pm, R$40,00am


*This area might be unsafe; please discuss with us before going!

Heading to Copacabana New Year Eve’s Big Party Next Week? Some tips and information…

Rio NYE party

Rio de Janeiro is less than one week from the New Year’s Eve big firework display at Copacabana Beach. The city has just hosted the Stevie Wonder and Gilberto Gil Christmas Concert and now the stages for the dozens of shows to be performed at the famous beach are being readied for the Reveillon Festivities.

There will be two main stages, The Palco Principal (Main Stage) will be in front of Copacabana Palace and Palco Claro will be further down the beach opposite Rua Santa Clara. There will be more other two small stages, one located at Leme and the other one in front of Rua Xavier da Silveira. The show at the two main stages will run uninterruptedly until the fireworks starts at midnight, with a break of 16 minutes. The shows will be back right after the fireworks display finishes and then run until around 3 am. Below are the line ups :


Main stage (Copacabana Palace)

*8PM – DJs MAM e Marcelinho da Lua

*9PM – Diogo Nogueira
10:30 PM – Sorriso Maroto

12AM – Fireworks

12:20 AM – Claudia Leite

1AM – Ellen Oléria – vencedora do programa The Voice

3AM – G.R.E.S Unidos da Tijuca


Claro Stage (Rua Santa Clara)

8PM – Mariene de Castro

9PM – Olodance

*10PM – Baby do Brasil

12AM – Fireworks

12:20 AM – Grupo Revelação

*1:40 AM – G.R.E.S Acadêmicos do Salgueiro

*2:20 AM – G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel


Rua Xavier da Silveira stage

6PM – Dj

7PM – Grupo vou pro Sereno

*8:30 PM – Dj Brinquinho

9:30PM – Stylo X

12AM – Fireworks

2:16 AM – Stylo X

1AM – Dj Lesco

2AM – Dj Presuntinho


Leme Stage

6PM – Start of program – Band

7PM – Band

12AM – Fireworks

*12:20AM – Samba School

2AM – DJ

* Performance Highlights


Two million people are expected at Copacabana beach on December 31st so Copacabana will be packed and for that reason there are some tips that should be followed:

  • Go by metro – it is important to arrive early. The Atlantic Avenue will be blocked at 3pm and the whole neighborhood will have its streets blocked for private cars running at 6pm. Buy the metro (subway) tickets in advance. They are going to be selling special tickets for the day. On the 31st, from 7pm, those are going to be the only ones accepted. Casa Cool Beans has already arranged that for its guests coming for the New Year!
  • Taxis and Buses – They are running all night but the traffic is going to be very slow so it is still recommended to get the metro even knowing that it is going to be busy. So if you are going to use buses or taxis just be patient!
  • No Cell Phones – It usually stop working well close to the fireworks displays and especially during the show. Imagine 2 millino people trying to whish Happy New Year to their families and friends at the same time!!!
  • Good meeting point – Better use places like the big hotels (Copacabana Palace, Marriot or Othon Palace) as predetermined meeting points if anyone gets separated from the group.
  • Safety – Walking among a big crowd like this requires some precaution. The basic recommendation is to keep your wallet in the front pocket and never in the rear one.  Also, leave the Havaianas at the hotel and prefer use shoes avoiding get your feet cut at any of the broken glass left on the ground.
  • After the Fireworks – Stay at the beach and enjoy the music program. It will be for sure the smartest idea if you don’t want to be among the many people that will leave at the same time just after the fireworks display finishes.


We hope you all enjoy the New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, comfortably, safe and very, very happy!!!

Maiko’s (the Concierge at Casa Cool Beans) choices for this week: Dec 24th to Dec 30th 2012

luz da pedra




*Maria Carmen Perlingeiro – “Luz da Pedra” (Lights of the stones)

She creates sculptures using alabaster and gold leaf. “Luz da Pedra” is one of the carioca artist’s most recent works.

Tue to Fri – 12am – 6pm, Sat and Sun – 12am to 7pm, until Jan 13rd 2013.

Museu de Arte Moderna – MAM – Av. Infante Don Henrique 85 – Centro


William Kentridge

A well established south african artist in the international scene which has some of his works at Louvre, Paris or MoMa, New York. Videos, pictures and sculptures are presented. Also an opportunity to visit the Instituto Moreira Salles, built in one of the beautiful mansions in the pleasant Gávea neighborhood.

Tue to Sun 11am – 8pm – until Fev 17th 2013

Instituto Moreira Salles, Rua Marquês de São Vicente 476 – Gávea



Christmas Show at Copacabana Beach

*Stevie Wonder and Gilberto Gil

The city of Rio will bring Stevie Wonder to town for a free Christmas night concert on the famed Copacabana Beach. The beach concert is set to take place in front of the hotel Copacabana Palace starting at 10PM, with a legendary Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil opening at 8PM and later joining Wonder on stage.

Tuesday, 8pm

Copacabana Beach – In front of Copacabana Palace Hotel




Samba and Choro at Rio Scenarium

Two bands playing Samba and Choro (instrumental samba rhythm). The Samba group will start at 7:30pm and the Choro band at 10:30pm. Both play the hits and classic of brazilian samba and choro music.

Wednesday, 7:30pm

Rio Scenarium – Rua Lavradio 20, Lapa – Centro

Entrance fee: R$20,00


Raiz do Sana – Brazilian Northeastern Music

Inspired by Northeastern rhythms, the band plays xotes, xaxados, maracatu and other typical Brazilian northeastern rhythms. It also mixes elements such as rock, salsa, samba and soul. It is one of the most popular bands for such type of music in Rio.

Thursday, 20:30pm

Studio RJ – Rua Vieira Souto 110 – Ipanema.

Entrance fee: R$40,00


Classic Ballet


*O Quebra Nozes (The Nutcracker)

In the great surrounds of the city Municipal Theatre overlooking Cinelândia, the 120 year-old score by Tchaikovsky accompanying the resident ballet company becomes a veritable must for fans of a little seasonal cheer.

Date: Dec 28th, Jan 03-06 2013

Friday, 8pm

Teatro Municipal – Praça Marechal Floriano – Cinelândia

Entrance fee: R$ 25 to R$ 84


*This area might be unsafe; please discuss with us before going!