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My Experience of Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics

Where do I even begin?

For many, going to the Olympics as a spectator is a dream come true. And this trip was a bucket list item come true.

A month later, it’s still amazing that I was really there. Like I was LIVE for the Olympics!!??!

My first goal was to make sure I secure sport tickets. So I first purchased tickets in January via Cosport, the authorized ticket reseller for the United States.

Second goal was to purchase flight tickets to Rio. The price for my roundtrip ticket from Houston to Rio de Janeiro was $1120.

In the last weeks leading to my trip, I purchased more tickets and arranged my lodging last.


If you paid any attention to the news in regards to the Olympics, it was all negative, right? Well I can tell you firsthand that this trip proved how full of BULLCRAP mainstream media can be.

  • They said to watch out because the Zika virus is prevalent in Brazil and the Olympics should be postponed (Guess what? Lies! I left Rio a month ago and I have ZERO signs of Zika. No mosquito bite. I did not spray a single ounce of repellant. Zika is a summer disease and August is clearly winter season in Rio)
  • They said some venues were unfinished (I only went to the Olympic Park in Barra and all venues inside the park were ready and in full use while I was there. I saw the beach volleyball venue and it was in full use for the volleyball games. So it all worked out)
  • They said Rio de Janeiro is unsafe, there is an increase of muggings and gun violence (I had ZERO safety issues. There were military soldiers and federal police everywhere. In the United States and the rest of the world, there are many areas with the same amount of crime. So give Rio a break. I did, however, take many precautions. E.g. stashed cash in my bra, brought an extra debit and credit card)

The fear mongering was outrageous and unfortunate because I feel Brazil did the best they could possibly do and pulled it off with enormous success.

I know you are dying to know. How was Rio? How was the Olympics? One word, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.



My entire experience at the opening ceremony

Leaving my seat in the 300s section to the 100s with 2 Americans I met.

Seeing the athletes pass by in the first row.

Seeing Tonga’s flagbearer, the fireworks, the story of Brazil, the samba dancing, and so much more!

Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics
Brazil’s story during Opening Ceremony in Rio De Janeiro
Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics
The parade of nations
Team USA in 2016 Rio Olympics
Loved Team USA’s Ralph Lauren outfits! A roster of 558 athletes
Track and field Olympian Arman Hall at 2016 Rio Olympics
Team USA Track & Field Olympian, Arman Hall (I’m on the far right) – Photo Credit: Chris
Jamaican Scuba diver Olympian Yona Knight-Wisdom at 2016 Rio Olympics
Team Jamaica 1st Scuba Diver Olympian, Yona Knight-Wisdom (I’m in the middle) – Photo Credit: Chris


Seeing Team USA dominate women’s artistic gymnastics

US Gymnast Simone Biles at 2016 Rio Olympics
Simone Biles on the beam
US Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas at 2016 Rio Olympics
Gabrielle Douglas on the beam
US Gymnast Madison Kocian at 2016 Rio Olympics
Madison Kocian on the uneven bars

US Gymnasts at 2016 Rio Olympics


Visiting the famous 2.5-mile (4 km) Copacabana Beach in person

Crystal-clear, blue water! Very crowded but good for people watching.

You’ll find men in speedos, women in thong bikinis, vendors selling sunglasses to cooked shrimp, ice cold water, and everything you could possibly think of.

Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach in Rio for the Olympics


The local cuisine

My favorite meal was feijoada at Botequim Informal (located on Senhora de Copacabana). Followed by tapioca. And can’t forget açai!

Feijoada, popular Brazilian food
Top row: Bean stew (black beans with pork and beef), White rice, Collard greens and something crunchy Bottom row: Orange slices, Farofa (toasted manioc flour)
A plate of Brazilian food, feijoada
How to plate feijoada – The waiter, without asking, demonstrated how to eat this meal
Delicious Tapioca in Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian crepe, which can be filled with savory or sweet ingredients
Acai in Rio de Janeiro
Regular Açai


Hiking Tijuca National Park

Hiked the Pico da Tijuca trail, which took 2 hours to complete. Got a great view of Rio de Janeiro. Saw monkeys along the way.

Cascatinha waterfall in Tijuca National Park
Standing by the Cascatinha waterfall

Monkey found at Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro


The passion of Argentines at the Nigeria vs. Argentina basketball game

I was amazed by the level of excitement in the arena. Much different than a NBA basketball game. It felt like a soccer game.

Nigeria versus Argentina basketball game, Ginobili & Scola, 2016 Rio Olympics
Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili from the NBA played for their country Nigeria versus Argentina basketball game, 2016 Rio Olympics Passionate Argentines at the basketball game, 2016 Rio Olympics


Seeing the Torch relay twice

First time was on Av. Rio Branco by Cinelândia Metro station. Second time was on the street of my Airbnb home.
Torch relay for 2016 Rio Olympics Torch relay for 2016 Rio Olympics at night


All the people I met, including people on social media

Cristo Redentor in Rio De Janeiro

2016 Rio Olympic Park Venue



Spending 7 days in Rio was NOT enough
I needed at least 2-3 weeks to visit and enjoy all the attractions and must-do’s on my list. Missed out on the track and field games and each day went by fast.


Long lines at the food stand in the Olympic Park
The food options were trash and had to wait about 30 minutes.


It was too cloudy while touring Tijuca National Park that I could not see the beautiful views of RioTijuca National Park


Wasted 3 hours at Cosport’s pickup office

Others had it worse. (Cosport is the distributor for Olympic games tickets for not just the US, but Canada and other nations)


Took 2 hours to go from Cardeal Arcoverde metro to my seat in Olympic Park

It involved 2 transfers, tons of walking, a security check, standing in a super long line for the ticket check, and walking to my seat, which was high up.


Free Wi-fi isn’t readily available

Not even in the Olympic Park venues.



Please note that all Cosport tickets listed below include a handling charge but not shipping in the cost, which was $35.

Bare in mind that Cosport has their own fixed currency exchange rate and it wasn’t reasonable.

*The opening ceremony ticket was purchased 1 month to the event date and had to be picked up at Cosport’s will-call office in Rio.

Flight (IAH to GIG roundtrip)$1119.49
Lodging for 7 nights (Airbnb private room)$480
1 Opening Ceremony Ticket, Category D$306.38*
1 Men's Basketball Ticket, Category B$112.34
1 Women's Gymnastics Artistic Ticket, Category D$51.06



Although I came alone, I was never lonely. I’m grateful for all the wonderful people I met during this trip. Obrigada! (thank you in Portuguese)

And I’m grateful I was able to witness the Olympics. This is a trip to never be forgotten. I highly recommend that you visit Rio some day.


Were you in Rio during the Olympics?

Did you watch any of the games? What was your favorite moment?

I would love to hear from you! Comment below.


  • Chinaka

    First off Ann, you knows me and you go way back like 4 flats on the Caddy-lack!!!

    Your pictures are amazing!!!!!!! (I have yet to upload all my pics)

    Chinaka here!!!!! How ya been? Yes, you are spot-on when it comes to the Olympics being knocked-off the bucket list….being a fan and attending the London 2012 Olympics and attending the Rio 2016 Olympics, I would very much say that these Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were by far the best sporting event one could attend. Hands down better than London. (You have me beat on the Opening Ceremony because I have yet to attend one)

    The media portrayed Rio de Janeiro as if it was a death-trap to go there. I saw all these YouTube videos of little kids robbing tourists in broad-daylight and the news story of body parts washing onshore on Copacabana Beach just steps away from the Beach Volleyball Arena.

    The terrorist attack in France weeks earlier & in Belgium months earlier furthered concerns of if the Olympics would be safe. Then the Brazilian authorities arresting a few members on the terrorist watch-list in Salvador, Brazil raised more questions about the safety. Lets not forget the Rio police quiting or wanting to quit because they did not receive their monthly payroll checks.

    Lets not even start talking about the Zika virus and the mosquitoes……the media portrayed that firestorm as if a mosquito saw you, you will be immediately paralyzed.

    All-in-all, I went to Rio ignoring all the warning signs (with prayer from ACF of course, you already know we have keywords) but paying attention and being mindful nevertheless.

    The media portrayed all of the above and frightened a lot of people from attending. I was going to attend regardless, I booked my ticket for Rio in September 2015.

    However, I did carry bottles of Off! repellent everywhere I went and applied to my skin as if it was lotion/cologne just to be on the safe side and not take any chances.

    I flew into Sao Paulo (6-hour drive from Rio de Janiero) and attended the Nigeria/Colombia soccer match the same day. Trust me, it was in the 40s and during halftime, I was looking for some hot chocolate. Instead of mosquitoes living in Brazil in the wintery August, they hibernated up north to Florida!!!

    The city Rio de Janeiro is a marvelous & breathtaking city. The people there are very friendly and I had no problem asking my nationals for assistance. They have a Southern hospitality ingrained in their Brazilian culture. I love this city. The tourist attractions are a sight to see. They are beautiful. A few hiccups here and there with the traffic (I drove so I did not experience the train traffic) but I enjoyed myself and I will definitely make a trip back to Rio.

    • Ann the Adventurist

      Thanks for reading and commenting!! I appreciate the feedback. Lol @ “you go way back like 4 flats on the Caddy-lack.” Yea, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve seen you. I had no idea you went to London 2012. I was actually in Britain during the games but I didn’t have any tickets. I was there for a different reason. Did you go to Rio alone?

      Wow!!! You booked your flight since Sept 2015??? Was it a good deal?
      That’s interesting that you flew in and out just for a soccer match. Was it worth it? Lol @ mosquitos hibernated up north to FL. I heard Sao Paulo was cooler than Rio.

      YES! Rio is beautiful and cariocas are the most laid-back people I have ever seen. I can see the “southern hospitality” you’re referring to. And I can’t believe you drove while in Rio. What was that like? I’ve yet to drive abroad by myself. Btw, where in Rio did you stay?

      I’m hearing Tokyo will be more of a “typical” Olympics, like with pricing. Do you plan on going? I definitely want to and I’m thinking of being a volunteer (for the experience).

  • Introverts Travel

    Wow! Sounds you like you had an awesome time. Yes, there was lots of fear- mongering leading up to these Olympics but it totally makes sense about it being winter there. You took amazing pictures! What camera do you use?

  • The 5 to 9 Traveller

    Aww!! Reading all this has brought back all my Brazil memories!! I wanna go back! And I shall certainly be sharing on my blog soon about my time. Excellent post! You are right though 7 days is not enough, I was there 3 weeks and I wanted more time. All I know is that I will definitely be going back!

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