The Dois Irmãos. Photo by José Mario (@zemario)

Rio de Janeiro is the sexiest city I’ve ever visited. At every turn, it intoxicates you with beautiful music, amazing food, pristine beaches, and smiling cariocas (locals). Just one direct flight from the States, and you’re transplanted into an entirely different world, one where samba, caipirinhas and acai are king. Now that I’ve experienced all the wonders of Rio, I have a few added expectations of my city.

1) I want my local bars to have sidewalk, cocktail service. What, I can walk the streets with my bohemia, antarctica or caipirinha de maracuja in hand? The Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro is basically one giant outdoor cocktail party. Drift from bar to bar and taste the various flavors of caipirinhas, and you’ll soon find the courage to dance with the cariocas.

2) I’m mad Dois Irmãos (twin brothers) isn’t in the backdrop of all my pictures. America has plenty of beautiful iconic landmarks, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, which are amazing in their own right. But lounging on Ipanema Beach with Dois Irmãos (pictured at top) in the background is quite the surreal experience.

3) I expect my local bodega to sell fresh acai bowls. No country in the world can serve acai like Brazil. Up until my time in Rio, I had only tried the frozen, pre-packaged variety because the fruit, once plucked, has a short shelf life. But in Rio, you can get a fresh cup of acai, topped with granola and honey, for only a few Brazilian reals. So is this why every carioca I saw was stunningly gorgeous?


4) When searching for my next apartment, an outdoor dining area is vital. Rarely is it permissible to stay indoors when visiting Rio. The weather is almost always gorgeous, and beach life is ingrained in the local identity. While staying at Discovery in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, I reveled in the open-air patio. Every morning, I ate breakfast with the sun overhead; at night, I savored dinner along with a calm, evening breeze.

5) I want to show up at the beach with no food or drinks, and be totally fine. Preparing for a beach day can be quite the endeavor: Make sure to pack a cooler with enough ice to keep beverages and snacks cold, figuring out which gear to bring…but not in Rio. There, you can show up to the beach with only a bathing suit and a few reals in hand, and be equipped for a day in the sun. Vendors will sell you everything from a beach towel to cold drinks, fresh acai bowls, empanadas and more.

6) I walk out of my building, hoping to see a samba party in the street. In Rio, there’s always an excuse to attend a party and dance with the locals, whether it’s samba or swaying along to the dreamy sounds of bossa nova. Sitting in your seat while you’re out on the town is not an option.

Follow Michaela’s travels on Instagram, @michaelatrimble.