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Overview Santa Teresa

4.0 stars

Santa Teresa - Overview



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Settling in to Santa Teresa

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After having lived in the mock-Miami neighbourhood of Barra for well over a month, it was a joy to find ourselves surrounded by ageing hippies, arty types, bohemians and general assorted oddballs - it was clear we were going to feel quite at home here! Santa Teresa has lovely shops selling artisan knick-knacks, some great restaurants and bars, and is handy for lively nightlife in Lapa. The only problem is safety - after just a couple of weeks I was relieved of my bag while walking the 10 minutes between the bars and my flat after dark, so it's advisable to take a taxi even for short distances. Don't attempt to walk down to Lapa at night - hop on a bus or a combi instead. [more ]

Santa Teresa

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At the opposite end of the spectrum from the beach scene of the Zona Sul is the arty neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, where musicians, artists, students and other creative types gather to shop, eat and drink among beautiful colonial mansions.

Built high on a hill, Santa Teresa was once the neighbourhood of choice for Rio's affluent and glamorous - Mick Jagger is said to have met a Brazilian girlfriend here in the 1960s.

But when the favelas began to crawl up the hillsides nearby, the wealthy residents of these beautiful homes began to desert the neighbourhood in favour of areas such as Ipanema.

Hippy types began to move into the empty homes, and it has remained boho Cariocas' spiritual home ever since. Best reached by travelling on the clattering 'bonde' - the oldfashioned street car that takes you up the hill from Centro - Santa Teresa is a good place to come to pick up some arty gifts (for others or possibly for yourself!), and offers great views across the city. There is a lively eating and drinking scene, and by night you will often hear live music in the bars and restaurants.

The proximity of Santa Teresa to the favelas means you should be sensible about what you bring up here - unless you are on an organised tour you should probably leave your camera and other valuables at home. [more ]

All aboard the bonde

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No visit to Rio is complete without taking the toy train-like journey aboard the rattly tram from Centro to Santa Teresa, but time is of the essence for those who want to experience this quintessential Rio experience in all its creaking, clattering glory. Much to the chagrin of local residents, Brazil's government is attempting to replace the lovable old yellow trams, very much a symbol of Santa Teresa, with a newer, more efficient version, which would no doubt lack the antique charm of the originals. Not only that, but there is also pressure from City Hall to look at privatising the currently state-run tram system, a move that would surely lead to a bumping up of prices. Currently, at just 60 centavos for the journey, the bonde ride has to be the best-value transport system - not to mention tourist attraction - in the city. If the plans go ahead (and locals are battling like crazy to try and stop them going through) tourists who miss the chance now to ride aboard the historic tram may never again have the opportunity. [more ]


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