Rio de Janiero

Rio de Janiero is a good place to start exploring. There are flights daily into Rio from the U.S., and its famous beaches, high quality hotels and diverse restaurant options are a good way to begin immersing yourself in the Brazilian environment with out an overload of culture shock. Rio has numerous attractions, including Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, and Sugarloaf Mountain, to name the most popular. While touristy, all of these are worth a look. When visiting Christ the Redeemer, make sure to take the train up from the ticket area. Taxi drivers will offer to take you all the way up to the statue, but the train goes up through the gardens which the road does not. While in Rio, make sure to wander through the botanical gardens, take a stroll through the Leblon's trendy shops, cafes and restaurants, and visit the city center, with its colorful architecture and cobblestone pedestrian streets. One of the best ways to get an overview of the city is to take a half or full day city tour, which takes tourists to most of the major sites. Taxis are quite expensive in Rio and with the city being extremely spread out, a tour might prove most affordable in the long run. Two notes of caution to those traveling to Rio: first, as in any big city, theft can be an issue. The best way to avoid being a target is to carry only what you need to and conceal anything that makes you stand out as an obvious tourist. Second, it is not always advisable to swim at the beaches in Rio due to the cleanliness levels of the water. Daily reports will tell swimmers whether or not the waters are suitable for swimming.