Rio de Janeiro

Published: September 27th 2010
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After an easy 6 hour bus to rio we got to the bus station and decided
it would be best to get a taxi to our hostel until we got our
bearings, especially as it was 2 or 3 buses into somewhere we didn't
know that was the other option. As it was 7.30pm before we got to our
hostel we checked in, went to the supermarket round the corner then
just chilled out all night round the hostel. Beach Backpackers hostel
was a really good hostel for socialising and meeting new people mainly
because you were crammed in like sardines and at first the staff
seemed nice.

Day 1 (Bearings and Copacabana)

We decided for our first day in Rio (mainly because it was overcast)
to take it slow, have a look around Botafogo (where we were staying)
and take a tube to Copacabana and walk down the beach. I was still
desperately trying to get rid of my Bolivianos with every travel agent
saying they were no good. Also another thing to bear in mind in Brazil
is that unless you have a Brazilian credit/debit card you can only get
money out at HSBC and Banco do Brasil or Banco 24 if you wanna get
charged about 8 reales. So we spent a fair amount of time looking and
finding this out in Copacabana. Afterwards we hit the beach (still
overcast) but even though the weather wasn't great it is definitely
the best beach I have been to the sand was soo clean and light and you
could just sit there all day watching the huge waves crash.

On the way back to the hostel we found an Havaina shop so treated
ourselves then headed back to cook tea. Sausage casserole was
originally for tea but due to the oven at the hostel being crap and
there not being a casserole dish it was a kind of sausage, potato and
veg stew.
After tea we went for drinks with half the hostel Hayley (donny woman
with chuffing great accent) Justin and Amy (nice couple from Toronto)
Mary (also from Toronto) and Kev (an American schoolteacher, who was
nice enough but strange at times). We introduced them all to Mammoth
which we played over alot of Caiprinhas then more beers then headed to
bed, this being the first time I massively craved a PARMO!

Day 2 (Rio's hidden gems)

We decided that before we visited the usual sights of Rio, Christ the
Redeemer, Sugar Loaf and Copacabana beach (sunbathing) we would see
the Favelas.

Our hostel offered alot of tours all that were overpriced but the
Favela tour is one that you can't do by yourself, even at the
exhaustionate rate of R$65. We booked up for the morning tour which
was our first mistake because everyone we spoke to afterwards got
longer on the afternoon tour. Anyway we got picked up from our hostel
given a brief of the favelas with some shocking statistics about the
numbers of favelas in Rio and crime rates etc. When we arrived at
Rocinha we all got on the back of motorbikes to the top of the favela
where our guide asked if anyone saw the drug dealers holding massive
guns on the way up, me and Michael reckoned this was a script he
always used because we had been told to lookout and didn't see
anything. At the top we headed through the side streets (very alike
what you see in City of Men) and visited a rooftop to take pictures,
an art gallery with some awesome pictures and spray art was just below
where you could buy the art. We then walked to a bakery where Lenny
Kravitz had visited on his trip round Rocinha getting some street
music from some kids using buckets and whatever they could find which
sounded pretty good for what they were working with. After visiting a
nursery within the favela we headed down through the end of the favela
and everything suddenly got nicer the houses, the walkways, there was
now cafes it was because the authorities would invest money into the
areas you could see from the highway so people voting thought the
whole area was being improved. At the market at the bottom they were
selling cheap clothes including Flamengo shirts but the guide marched
off so we didn't have chance to look, maybe you get time in the
afternoon tour.
After the favela tour which we both thoroughly enjoyed I decided it
was a crime that Hollie had been to a favela and not watched City of
God so I bought it to watch that night.
As the favela tour only lasted only lasted till half 1 we still had
alot of the day left so we decided to visit the steps. The Escadaria
Selaron steps are stairs that an artist by the same name changes
everyday in accordance to the world changing and incorporates any
tiles that you send him. Even though they are only a flight of stairs
I would count them as a must see in Rio, you meet the artist and it is
just nice to see abit of beauty within a run down neighbourhood. After
the stairs we headed back to the hostel chilled out, had tea and sat
watching City of God with the rest of the hostel and popcorn.

Day 3 (Christ and the Beach)

After watching the weather desperately for the last 2 days we knew
there was a good chance it would be sunny today so we decided to do
Christ the Redeemer in the morning then the beach in the afternoon. We
were out of the hostel by half 9 after a speedy breakfast and caught
the bus to the tram station (bottom of the hill near Christ), it was a
good job we were there early because the next available tram was 11am.
By the time we got on the tram at 11 the ticket office were selling
tickets for the 1pm tram.
The tram ride itself had some awesome views of the city as it
spiralled round the mountain along with a 4 man band that entertained
for a change. When we reached reached the top we were so glad that we
had picked today, the sun was blazing and the sky was clear so you
could see all of Rio; the favelas, the city and the dozen beaches
We spent about 30 minutes up there admiring the views and taking the
usual arms out pictures. We probably could have spent longer up there
but the crowds of people and the idea of the beach sent us down.
When we got to the bottom we caught the same bus we caught there and
that took us straight to Ipanema Beach. The beach was exactly how I
imagined a Rio beach to be people of all ages playing football,
volleyball, foot volleyball, women of all ages wearing thongs (the
grannys weren't pretty) and beach sellers everywhere selling
everything from football shirts to oysters. We met up with Justin,
Amy, Michael and Becca and spent a couple of hours sunbathing
together, the only break being when me and Hollie pigged out at the
weight buffet self service (find a decent one and they are beautiful).
Becca and Michael left for sugarloaf sunset and Justin and Amy left
for the airport so me and Hollie treated ourselves to more Havainas
then headed back to the hostel, stoppig off at Copacabana night market
first but not being impressed. Before getting to the hostel we walked
round Botafogo shopping center and got some nice pictures of Rio at
night from the top. After all the walking we both conked out when we
got back to the hostel.

Day 4 (Copacabana & Sugarloaf)

After a successful day at the beach yesterday we decided we needed
another fix so again we were up early and at Copacabana for 11am.
Although the wind was very strong for the first 2 hours, it cleared up
and we managed to get a good 5 and a half hours sunbathing. I did my
first bit of exercise since I've been away, ran from half way down the
beach to the end and back a good 4.5km. When I got back Becca had
asked a street seller for a henna of a butterfly and he had agreed on
3 reales then when it was finished demanded 30 reales, Michael gave
him 20 just so we didn't get any bother. Probably not the best idea
but we all got some prawns off a beach seller with lime, went down
nicely with a Brahma and no shits to follow bonus! As Michael and
Becca set off from the beach yesterday at 4.30 and missed sunset we
all decided to set off at 3.30pm. We caught a bus from Copacabana to
Sugarloaf and basically ran from the bus stop to the cable car station
where we queued at the bottom and then in the middle but made it up to
the top with 20 minutes to spare. The view from Christ the Redeemer
was good but nothing compared to Sugarloaf, the sunset was quality and
watching the lights come on as it got dark in Rio was really good, we
probably would have stayed longer but all 4 of us were starving so we
walked back to the hostel stopping off at the supermarket to pick
something up we could cook quickly, pasta.
When we came back to the hostel we got a taste of the bad attitude the
hostel runners had as we had got our days mixed up and not booked
tonight at the hostel and we were saying it was our fault yet the
woman kept saying "if you think I am laying you can check the system
yourself". As the hostel was full we had to pay R$15 each and sleep on
the sofa beds which was better than finding a hostel on a Friday night
in Rio (near impossible). Around 12-15 of us from the hostel were
going to the Lapa street party so we had drinks (I made my own
Caiprinhas for me and Hollie) and played Ring of Fire then got the bus
to Lapa.
Lapa was brilliant a long street of clubs with music on outside and
stalls selling beer, caiprinhas, wine and loads of different types of
food. When you got sick of dancing on the street you went in a club,
if you were sick of that club you hit the street again or try another
club, it was brilliant. We drank a fair bit outside and inside the
clubs then the lesbians from our hostel got into abit of bother so
with me and Hollie also being pretty drunk we all decided to leave. We
grabbed some street food in the way out and it was amazing (prawn stir
fry) then shared some taxis with the others back to our hostel.
When we got back to the hostel there was a guy already sleeping on one
of the two sofabeds so I asked the Kenyon couple (who managed the
hostel) where we were meant to sleep and they said "you share", the
guy had paid R$15 for the other sofa bed so we kicked off and said we
were only paying R$7.50 each. The Kenyon guy kicked off (drunk) and
started shouting "you out" at all of us, he was a dick! We obviously
didn't leave at that time in the morning, we refused and waited till
he got bored of shouting then went to bed.

Day 5 (Maracana)

At 7am the Kenton guy woke Hollie up and said you must leave now. We
couldn't be arsed with his attitude any longer so we just moved onto
another hostel round the corner near Botafogo shopping center, it was R
$1 more but the staff were 10 times better. Hollie wanted to pick
something up from Copacabana so we dropped our bags and caught the
tube. Probably because of the fact we were hungover we spent all
afternoon just walking around Copacabana in a daze until 3pm when we
came back to Botafogo to meet Kate and Colin to head to the match.
The beach backpacke hostel were charging R$70 to go to the football
match with transport there and back, we managed to do it for R$35; the
ticket was 30 and the tube there and back was 5.
The game was Flamengo v Ceara and I'm not going to lie to you it
wasn't the greatest game in the world but it was awesome to see the
Maracana and cool to see how different the style of football is in
Brazil compared to England. The fans had massive italian style
football flags with pictures of all the past legends that have played
for Flamengo they looked really good simultaneously waving together.
After the game we caught the tube back to Botafogo saying bye to Kate
and Colin then heading to bed. As we only got 2 days of sun in Rio we
were both really looking forward to Ilha Grande and hoping there was
sun to welcome us.

Muchos Love


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