If you’ve ever dreamed about a day (or night) at the races, then you should head to Rio’s Joquei Clube, also known as the Hipódromo da Gávea (Praça Santos Dumont 131, tel. 21/2259-1596). You’ve likely never seen a racetrack with such stupendous surroundings (the Cristo Redentor hovers directly above the bleachers).
Built in 1926, the rather grand complex was featured in the 1946 Hitchcock film Notorious, in which Cary Grant (as a U.S. government agent) and Ingrid Bergman (as a former Nazi spy) took some time out from espionage and romance to bet on the horses.
Even if you don’t want to gamble (race days are Monday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), the club itself is a fun place to grab a drink (no shorts allowed).
If you prefer shopping to racing, come on the weekend for the Babilônia Feira Hype (2–10 p.m. every second Sat.–Sun., R$5), a large combination flea/fashion market.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition