Rainy days in Rio de Janeiro (Yes, they do happen. And when it rains, it really rains.) are the perfect time to check out the city's indoor shopping malls, known as "shoppings" to the locals.
The biggest are located to the west of the city in the modern, wealthy suburb of Barra da Tijuca. But you can save yourself a long cab ride by heading instead to Shopping RioSul, the handiest large mall for those staying in the touristic heartland of the Zona Sul ("South Zone").
Shopping RioSul is a US-style entertainment complex that features a multi-screen cinema; mammoth food court (including a Starbucks, for anyone craving their favorite cup of java); and even a good play center for kids.
Shopping RioSul is a favorite rainy day choice for locals in Rio — Photo courtesy of Eduardo P
Located in the largely residential neighborhood of Botafogo, Shopping RioSul is a quick bus or cab ride from Copacabana (Don't attempt to walk, as the road passes through a somewhat dangerous tunnel.) and a 10-minute stroll from Sugarloaf Mountain.
For the grownups, the real draw here is the opportunity to indulge in some serious retail therapy. There are close to 200 stores here, including big high-street fashion stores such as C&A, as well as branches of famous bikini stores such as BumBum. They also include a store dedicated entirely to Havaianas flip-flops.
For the kids, you can take them to RioSol's fun, if expensive, play center, where kids can "shop" in a mini-supermarket, make themselves even more lovely in a beauty salon and captain a pirate ship.
Alternatively, you can keep the kids entertained for free by taking them to one of the mall's bookstores, where children's sections feature comfy cushions and kids are welcome to sit and thumb through the books, library-style.
Many books are in English, and you're not obliged to buy anything, no matter how long you stay.
When it's time to refuel, you can take your pick from traditional local snacks such as pao de queijo (bread balls made with cheese and manioc flour) and brigadeiro (a stickily sweet treat made with condensed milk and chocolate). Or you can tuck into sushi, salads or grilled meats at one of the many restaurants at the food court.
There are plenty of cafe-bars, too, so you can relax with a post-shopping drink after your hard day's spending is done.
Shopping RioSul is not necessarily the best place to soak up an authentic local atmosphere; it feels like a shopping center anywhere in the world.
But if you need to find that perfect bikini, shop for shades or just keep the kids entertained on a wet day in Rio, it's the place to be.