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.


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Chorinho, Pastél and lots of fun at one of Rio de Janeiro’s local food markets; General Glicério Fair!

chorinho general

The street markets at Rio de Janeiro are certainly the place where you can easily find the sweetest mangos, freshest papayas and tastiest passion fruits or any of the delicious fruits of season! However it is also one of the best places for foreigners to feel the mood of the city and a chance to see the way cariocas take their day by day life. These markets can be found in any neighborhood, one for each day of the week. They are diverse in numbers but also in types as some markets can offer more than just fruits. That is the case of General Glicério Fair in Laranjeiras’ neighborhood.

At General Glicério Fair besides fruits you have the opportunity to hear some great local music right outside in the middle of the market and free! Different and small bands go there around noon every Saturday gathering to play samba, chorinho (ancient samba rhythm) and all kinds of other different Brazilian popular music the band decide to play at the time.

Usually on such markets there are stalls selling some local and typical snacks that for sure worth a trying a bite! Try the Pastéis (a kind of a local fast food, consisting of thin pastry envelopes wrapped around assorted fillings like ground meat, mozzarella, hart of palm, cream cheese and chicken) or the Brazilian northeastern’s Biju de Tapioca (type of a crêpe made with tapioca or manioc flour filled with local vegetables, cheese, ham or sweet condensed milk with coconut). There can be also find some stalls selling art and crafts what could be an idea for a local souvenir.

General Glicério is also the name of the street where the market takes place. It is actually one of the nicest area of Laranjeiras neighborhood with its big mansions (dated from the 40s and 50s) and large gardens. The street’s central garden was actually one of the last works of the famous Brazilian landscape designer called Burle Marx, same who design the city’s main park Aterro do Flamengo, known as Rio’s Central Park.

And if you feel that you could stay longer and have lunch around the area, there are two good options: the little coffe shop called Maya or the small wine shop L’Orangerie. At Maya Café, you should try the sandwiches made with the house home-made breads. Getting one of their sandwiches and a salad takes care of lunch! Other options are the soups, icecreams and cakes. They serve one of the city’s representative cakes flavor, chocolate-covered carrot cake, considered one of the bests! The second option would be L’Orangerie for a bit more sophisticated option. They are actually a wine shop so anything you order there can be combined with one of the house’s wine suggestions. This month they are giving 20% of discount in the wines on Tuesday’s afternoons. So if you want a place to chill out after a visti to Corcovado that might be the place as they are just 2 minutes ride from Corcovado train station!


General Glicério Fair at Laranjeiras Neighborhood.

Every Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Music starts around noon.