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Published: March 14th 2013
10th-12th March ’13 Catete, Rio.
It was quite sad to be leaving our little hotel and the laid back Urca (especially as I had read the reviews of the hostel we were staying in next!) but it will be nice to find somewhere else to eat! We took a taxi to the metro station, sussed out buying a multiple journey card and caught the tube to Catete.
As soon as we got out of the metro station it was obvious this was a much livelier area, with lots of restaurants, shops and bars. The hostel – Hostel Republica was just a couple of minutes’ walk away down a road off the main street, so location wise it is excellent. Check in involved lots of hurrrumping and sighing by the man on the desk and eventually he found our booking and in very broken English told us to come back in an hour when the room would be ready. So we left our rucksacks in the office and went for a wander around the area.
Once back he asked if we were a couple then gave us a set of sheets, said push the beds together and handed us
some towels. The room resembles a small box in need of a damn good clean, has a window which looks straight into the parking garage next door and the bathroom while clean smells of eau de wee! Oh well it’s only for 3 nights….
After stuffing our rucksacks in the cupboard we took the tube and express bus out to Ipamena and the Hippy Market. This was a great place, lots of lovely clothes but pretty expensive and so I resisted. If we hadn’t been travelling there were lots of gorgeous arty crafty things that I would have had to have had but once again we are so I didn’t get anything.
We found a cheap fast food type place and I tried pastilles and refresco which is the Brazillian version of a Greggs pasty and a cup of squash. It was actually really nice, a kind of fried light pastry with a very orange coloured filling that was quite like chicken – once again our inability to speak the lingo made getting even this a performance and getting chicken was a fluke given the list of unheard of fillings available. Still obrigada (thankyou) got us a big
smile and lots of patience.
We had a walk down to the sea front and Howard deftly avoided the shoe shine scam by wiping off the big blob of stuff thrown on his shoe with an old plastic bag. Once again a very nice looking beach that was baking hot.
Back in Catete we waked down to the very long local beach which was packed (it is Sunday) and in amongst all the families were lots of very odd characters including a man shuffling along clearly begging while foaming at the mouth – needless to say no one gave him anything.
Back in the main road area again there was a gated off area with a small stage set up and as the place gradually filled up with people a Samba band started playing and people of all ages all dancing away, I guess this is probably a typical Sunday night out in Brazil.
We ate at a local cheap café which blessedly had pictures on the menu! We went Brazillian and had chicken with a choice of 3 accompaniments – chips, spaghetti and mayonnaise (which was a type of vegetable salad), very filling and very
stodgy. The serving girl was lovely though and really went out of her way to make us welcome and to sort us out as even the pictures came with a wide variety of choices, she didn’t speak any English but was just one of those naturally lovely friendly people.
I’m sure by the time we leave Rio we will of got the hang off how to order the food but for now it still remains a bit of a mystery!
11th March '13 Centro & Corcovado for Christ the Redeemer
Up and out early again to visit Corcovado and the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer which can be seen from all over Rio (when the weather is clear). However when we arrived at the station we were told that the mountain was covered in fog and we wouldn’t be able to see anything – I feel a pattern coming on here! So we decided to try again later in the day and instead took the metro into the Centro district.
We had a walking tour in our guide book but it became apparent that it bore very little resemblance to the street map and lots
of the huge amazing buildings we were passing weren’t even mentioned on it. So we just did our own version and wandered around marvelling at the massive churches, the huge modern cathedral that looked like a Mayan pyramid, modern sculptures and elaborate ornate Portugese buildings intermingling with vast modern skyscrapers.
There are lots of open tree lined squares which was a blessing as it was once again getting hot and our meandering lead us down to a large local market which was bustling with life and then onto the waterfront ferry port.
By chance we came across a post office and went in to buy some stamps which you would think would be straight forward but no, we queued for ages only to be told no and then a lady led us around to a special office where another lady sat who sold us a couple of stamps – the whole process took forever!
Back in Catete it was more pastillios for lunch and then later in the afternoon we returned to Corcovado and this time everything was clear. We travelled up the mountain on the cog railway which went up past local peoples’ houses and front
gates and even dropped a couple of local people off on the way up.
At the top you could either walk up 200 steps or take the elevator and 2 escalators up to the very top and the statue, so there was no contest really! The statue of Christ was huge about 100 feet tall and beautiful, he had such a serene expression and with his arms outstretched looked like he was embracing the whole of Rio, it was quite amazing.
The views were incredible and a full 360 degrees. Then the mists started creeping in and eventually you couldn’t see anything – just as well we took the lift or I would have still been struggling up the stairs when that happened! We did walk back down the stairs though.
Once we were back down at the road we jumped on a bus back to Catete but got off at an earlier stop to try and find somewhere different to eat. Unfortunately all the buffet places we passed stopped serving at 4.30 and Howard didn’t like the look of any of the other restaurants so we ended up walking back to our area after all.
We then found a wonderful little restaurant where we sat out on the pavement at has Churazzio – a Brazilian barbeque feast so for the first time we had a really good proper meal and were incredibly stuffed by the end of it. Once again a small plate of fried flour with some kind of nut in it arrived, this seems to be served with most food as we had also had it in Urca, you sprinkle it over your food and it doesn’t taste of much really so this time I gave it a miss.
Back at the hostel we sat with a few others in the dining room using the internet, there is a lounge but the first time we tried using it we ended up covered in mozzie bites which probably explains why there is never anyone in it!
12th March ’13 Copacabana beach
Well we have seen most of the major sights of Rio so we decided to have a lazy last full day here by spending it on the beach. We went back to Copacabana as the sand had looked really white and soft and the views were lovely, however as we
have found on most of the Rio beaches there is actually a lot of rubbish around. It’s such a shame as the beaches are gorgeous but the rubbish is also in the sea which is a bit off putting. It’s odd as we noticed lots of people picking up rubbish as they walked along but equally lots of people just dumping theirs in the sand.
Anyway we staked our spot really close to the sea and forked out for a brolly and chairs as it was much too hot not to. The beach was much quieter mid week but there was still a constant stream of people selling drinks, snacks, sarongs, tops, bikinis, watermelon, flasks, jewellery, hammocks etc etc passing backwards and forwards all day long!
The sea was pretty rough and by the afternoon the waves were getting pretty big, after my Hawaii experience this made me a lot more cautious but I still went in. Lads were playing footy all along the shore line, girls were parading with their bums hanging out, men and women with big bellies hanging out standing in the shallows tanning and lots of children were larking about.
Despite only being
out in the sun for two five minute sessions during the day I ended up with really badly burnt tops of my feet – utterly bizarre and very painful. We went to the local chemist to try and get something for it (Howard as usual was looking like a lobster and even he had burnt bits) and they led us to a cabinet which was unlocked and we were handed a bottle of calomine lotion (thinks Mum and the pink stuff). It does help quite a bit.
Limping to the cheap place for tea we ended up sharing a table with an English born young Australian lad and a Portuguese mother and daughter. We had a really nice evening chatting to them and they encouraged me to try Acai, which is peculiar to Brazil. It’s made from a special Amazon berry (with lots of health giving properties), mixed with sugar and turned into a cross between a slush puppy and ice cream. It tasted pretty good but then the Aussie lad who told me he was addicted to them told me there about 1200 calories in each one, arrrrggghhh, so I don’t think I will be trying that again!
So a good way to end our stay in Rio.
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