By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Cariocas, or people from Rio, are remarkably good at making the most of Sundays. The second day of the weekend is not one to be spent at home preparing for the week ahead, but rather it is best enjoyed with family and friends, and often avoiding the crowded beaches. Gávea, a residential neighborhood between Jardim Botânico and Leblon, is the perfect place to do it.
Begin at the Instituto Moreira Salles, a small but beautifully designed art gallery on Rua Marques de São Vicente. Nestling in the jungle, its outdoor areas are as much of a reason to visit as its indoor spaces. Stop for a coffee by the pool before taking in an exhibition.
In honor of Rio’s 450th birthday, which was first celebrated in March, the gallery is showing “Rio: Primeiras Poses – Visões da cidade a partir da chegada da fotografia (1840-1930)” (Rio: First Poses – Visions of the city since the beginning of photography) until January 31, 2016.
Four hundred and fifty photos have been chosen from around 10,000 of the city taken at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Many of them have never been seen before, and the exhibit is a perfect way to absorb some of the cultural history of the city.
After, wander down the hill to put your name on the list for Braseiro, an unpretentious but excellent steak restaurant. Move next door to their kiosk to pick up a beer or caipirinha and a tin plate of sliced sausage (or linguica) to eat on the street with a decent squeeze of lime.
While you wait for your table cross over the road to the antiques markets in Praça Santos Dumont. Around eighty stalls gather from 9AM to 5PM on Sundays, selling a selection of glass and ceramics, silverware, rugs and furniture from days gone by. There are also vintage sunglasses, watches, jewelry and a few second-hand clothes to peruse.
Once you are seated at Braseiro and have had another of the sausages that will be offered to you, be sure to order the picanha (a cut of beef) or the roast chicken from the grill. They both come with traditional Brazilian sides, such as broccoli rice, chips and farofa with egg and banana.
Across from the praça lies Rio’s Jockey Club. Unlike most horse-racing tracks, the one here is very informal and open to all – so long as you are not wearing flip-flops. It opens at 2PM on Sunday and races tend to run all afternoon.
Pick up a drink and a betting slip inside and take a seat on the steps outside. The track runs just in front of the Lagoa and so has one of the most spectacular backdrops for a race course possibly in the world.
If, by the time the sun is going down you are not ready to go home, on the Jockey Club grounds off to the right is another local gem. Palaphita Gávea is a fun lounge bar, which often has DJs and attracts a crowd of young, affluent Cariocas. It is open from 5PM to 1AM on a Sunday night, but remember that Havaianas are not allowed.