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Monday, December 30, 2013

Jardim Botanico

We asked friends for recommendations on things to do in Rio before we left, and one item kept coming up that I didn't expect - visit the Botanical Gardens. We have been in Buenos Aires for over four years and have not yet been the Botanical Gardens here so this was not immediately on the top of our list - but the day was cloudy and we had a brunch recommendation to add to the morning, so the day was ripe for a garden trip!

We went on a Sunday, which is when Escola do Pao offers brunch. Our hotel front desk made us a 9:00am reservation and we took the under 10 minute cab ride to be some of the first ones there. This family owned restaurant is known for its bread and pastries, and their brunch spotlights these items. The restaurant is a quaint place with some interesting kitchen items and pastries on sale. There are two floors of dining space with a third floor dedicated to bathrooms (which we visited three times with our little miss). 
They have an a la carte menu, but we ordered the complete brunch for Jon and I - and Gretchen ate off our plates for no additional cost. I will say that the brunch was tasty and we left full, but the meal was very bread and cheese heavy and I don't remember a single protein on the table.

In true Brazilian style, they had lots of juices; orange juice, strawberry smoothie, and papaya pulp. Along with lots of cheesy bread, jams, creamy pudding items and some sort of tapioca pudding item at the end that came in coconut, raspberry or vanilla flavors.

 After brunch we walked on over to the Jardim Botanico, which is only 3 blocks down on the same street as Escola do Pao. I couldn't get a true answer as to where the gardens entrance was - but you walk out of the restaurant, take a right, walk three blocks and the entrance is on the left.

Alex was beyond excited about visiting the gardens.
Happiest. Child. Ever.
The gardens were fantastic! A beautiful respite in the middle of city life, and the tallest palm trees I have ever seen.

Gretchen was not thrilled about walking around the gardens until we learned that there was a playground somewhere in the gardens. After that, she was all smiles. This made for some of the best pictures we've gotten together in a very long time!

I can't believe what a big girl she has become!
The playground was pretty great! There is a little food court along with bathrooms for adults, and one specifically designated for kids. There is even a guard to make sure that kids don't get to rough, big kids don't play on the little kid equipment and that no one feeds the animals. The equipment was clean, in good repair, and it was a great oasis for a little girl that didn't want to walk around anymore.

 Once we made it to the playground, we were visited by some special guests that clearly take advantage of those willing to break the rules and feed them some extras.

There were lots of little monkeys running around in the trees above, waiting for food from the little ones below.

Just when I thought the monkey viewing was the wildlife highlight of the day - out came the toucans! Colorful, beautiful, and flying around the treetops like we were in the middle of the jungle. Which, I guess, was not far from the truth.

And then, of course, is the best little monkey of all.  She ran around the playground, sliding, climbing and horsing around until it was time to get back to the hotel for a little snooze. Not bad for a cloudy day in paradise.

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