There is no better way to ‘do’ this iconic city than basing yourself at the Copacabana Palace. This world famous Belmond hotel is the heart of the area and has set the tone for glamorous living edged with that furious latin passion found in the Southern Americas. Yet for all of the history and high drama, this is one of the most relaxed establishments I’ve been in. Simply being led through the corridors to my room moved the heart, Every few feet you would feel the salty breeze blowing in from the beach, glance out the open window and be stunned with the view. We had pre-dinner drinks in the famous penthouse, where being left to explore, we discovered bathtubs filled with ice and bottles of Veuve Clicquot.
Earning a Michelin star within a year of opening, MEE restaurant is a key statement in the heart of the Copacabana Palace. Fronted by world famous chef Ken Hom, the name is a Korean word for beauty and this is the core of the concept used by Chef Hom to set his signature over the space in all ways. Before you even see the menu, the decor, gentle music and even that faint gingery aroma in the air have been carefully crafted to set a scene of complete calm. This was a ‘once in a lifetime’ dining experience. I have gorged on some of the world’s best sushi in my travels across the far east, but here next to the southern Atlantic I was guided through the most authentic and incredible tastes. Combinations I would never had considered yet alone tried passed my lips with at first a slight hesitation then with increasing frequency.
Now some hate it, others love it but for me football is a real passion and I was blown away when I heard we were headed to the “Temple of Football” here in Rio - The Maracanã Stadium. After the main part of the building tour, we were split up and taken to the footballers changing rooms. Opening the door we found our ‘kit’ waiting for us - A personalised football top with the legendary number 10 proudly emblazoned on the back.
Then it was time to fly south and experience another side to Brazil, colonial decadence deep in the jungle.
Hotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls. Situated in what is considered one of South America’s most beautiful landscapes, the Iguassu falls National Park is an area of pristine rainforest bisected by the enormous Iguassu River as it ends it’s near 900 mile ocean bound journey. Close to where this torrent joins the mighty Paraná, the river bedrock is slashed by a near vertical canyon over 250 ft deep. This sudden drop, running in a long jagged line causes the river to break into nearly 300 magnificent waterfalls, some over 250ft high. These are considered the most spectacular Waterfalls in the world.