In the land where family is everything, the build up to Mother’s Day is quite the production, leaving otherwise normal husbands and fathers scrambling desperately for a special present or day out to prove their love. For those who think that a finger painting from a five year-old just isn’t going to quite cut the mustard, here are Time Out’s top tips for treats.
A long brunch - the better way to start the day
Breakfast in bed is obviously a pretty good way to begin the day, but upon waking up to an empty fridge, Gávea’s Casa da Tatá (Rua Professor Manoel Ferreira 89, Gávea, 2511 0947/www.dacasadatata.com.br) can come to the rescue. From 9am they will deliver their complete breakfast (R$65) to your door, comprising juice, coffee, bread basket, fruit salad, cold meats and pão de queijo. Just order an extra juice because, bizarrely, it only comes with one.
For the really ostentatious favour-winner, however, there is always the Copacabana Palace brunch, where the sprawling, never-ending banquet rather wonderfully includes limitless glasses of champagne in the hefty price tag (R$170). On a more manageable scale for most, La Bicyclette in Horto, Parque Lage in Jardim Botânico and Maya Café in Laranjeiras offer freshly baked breads and croissants in beautiful settings to get the day off to a flying start. If it is a beach day, however, Ipanema’s Cafeína is hard to beat, so long as the queue for an outdoor table doesn’t get on mum’s nerves.
Dive into a family-forgetting spa
The ultimate selfless gift is surely to whisk the kids off for a few hours and leave mum to submerge in a bath of seaweed and expensive-smelling salts and forget about domesticity for a while. Nirvana spa next to the Gávea racecourse does a half-day special (R$390) that covers up to three hours of treatments including massages, milk baths and facial treatments. Outside of Zona Sul, Levitate spa in Barra is offering R$50 off their full day ‘Queen’ package (R$500) with crystal peeling, hydrotherapy, fat-reducing dressings and hot-stone treatment.
Give Cristo a fly-by
The flash way to get the sights seen in Rio is by helicopter, and while it can look a bit expensive and short-lived on paper, the month-long Carioquinha promotion with Helisight makes the five minute up-and-down whistle-stop tours of Zona Sul (reduced from R$180 to R$119 per person) suddenly seem a lot more reasonable and just as thrilling. Using the occasion as the perfect excuse, take off from Dona Marta, fly over the Tijuca Forest and arc around Cristo, or start from Morro da Urca and get the best views possible of Botafogo bay, Leme, Copacabana and the mighty Sugarloaf.
Tell the family to go take a hike
The very fact that Rio is blessed with more natural beauty than your average city transforms a simple stroll in almost any neighbourhood into something rather magical, so use the opportunity to go a little off the beaten track. Urca’s beautiful, sleepy rows of houses overlooking the bay make for a great backdrop, and ending up at Bar Urca is never a bad idea. A painting project is currently underway transforming the harbour fishing boats into works of art, too. Alternatively, seek out Bairro Peixoto, Gávea or Horto for a little change of pace and unearth some corners of the city that usually remain hidden from prying eyes.
Feel the music
Never ones to miss an opportunity for a big free concert, Rio council have built a stage smack in the middle of Flamengo Park upon which Maria Rita will perform hits from her mum Elis Regina’s back catalogue. A rather hipper crowd will be gathering for dubstep crooner James Blake at Circo Voador, and the arrival of Crosby, Stills and Nash at Barra’s Citibank Hall completes quite a diverse triumvirate of live music options for mum’s to indulge in.
Have an indulgent dinner
Besides all the meat-feasts, Rio has some perfectly pitched restaurants with a feminine-friendly flavour, none of whom miss a trick to add a little extra appeal on such special occasions. Oui Oui opens for a rare Sunday special where the menu covers such temptations as white fish and shrimp ceviche and an organic chicken Waldorf salad, and Prima Bruschetteria is giving mums who lunch with their children a free dessert bruschetta (largely involving lots of nutella). Eñe is serving up a special menu (R$130) with two starters, two mains and a dessert and a children’s menu (R$70) to make for the perfect family sharer.
If you cant beat them, join them
If all of that sounds a bit too girly, then there's always the Carioca Cup Final to kick back with and join in as half the city takes the opportunity to shout at the television or anyone not wearing the same team colours. Sunday also sees the last day of the Comida di Buteco event, which means it is also the last opportunity to go to town on some beer-friendly snacks and rate the bar from which they came as if a seasoned food critic. Finally, if ripped surfer types are your cuppa, the world's best will be taking over Barra as part of the Billabong World Pro surf championships.