My hostel was steps away from the famous Parque Lage, and I must say it was one of my favorite things to see in Rio. Entrance is free and not only do you get to see this luscious and wild garden filled with jungle trees and palms, ponds, and flowers, but you also get to see the exquisite Lage cafe. What was once an old sugar mill, is now a cultural and historical gem of Rio.
It was designed by English landscaper John Tyndale and feels as if you are floating through a mystical fairyland where lovers hide amongst the trees waiting for clandestine kisses. I feel like if Shakespeare were alive today, he would want A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in this place. Speaking of the arts, the large mansion, which houses the cafe, is also home to the center for the arts. Art of all kinds is consistently displayed and educational programs happen daily. The progressivism of Lage is clear. It’s dedication to forward thinking movements provided it the opportunity to be the home of the first openly homosexual literary magazine in the city. It is a unique place of learning and discovery for the people of Rio.
I was lucky to be so close. It allowed my to experience the park several times. The first was to get to the path to climb Corcovado Mountain. After that I meandered through the park whenever I needed some whimsy. If you are pressed on time or simply do not like crowds in your pictures, I recommend going 45 minutes before sunset. The guard was a little reluctant to let me in at first, but I told him I was simply going for a coffee. The place was almost completely deserted, the few exceptions being art students. I had the grounds to myself. The mansion at dusk makes for glorious pictures. It was definitely a highlight of my time in Rio.