Rio Epilogue


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South America » Brazil » Rio de Janeiro » Rio de Janeiro » Botafogo
February 23rd 2013
Published: May 16th 2013
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Sugar Loaf MountainSugar Loaf MountainSugar Loaf Mountain

Taken from Praia Vermelha.
This blog entry chronicles the last day and a half I spent in Rio by myself before flying back out to London. It also gives me a vehicle to show off some more of the photos I took in the this stunningly scenic city....

The name of company taking me from Paraty back to Rio was called easytransferbrazil.com but in reality it was anything but.
Again, it all started well - one of four people in a massive minivan with air-conditioning and DVDs playing on the main screen (even if it was Welcome To The Jungle starring "The Rock"). As with most people here, the driver seemed pretty laid back, and didn't speak any English.
We then stop for "five minutes" which was more like twenty, while the driver decides to get the minivan washed by hand at a service station. I was enjoying the air-con so was a bit annoyed to have to get outside for twenty minutes.
It did give me the chance to chat with my fellow passengers however, who were all going to Ilha Grande - so I guess we're making another stop then.
Sure enough we pull up at the exact same pier I came
Cathedral Of San SebastianCathedral Of San SebastianCathedral Of San Sebastian

This modern, concrete design is not what you'd expect of a city cathedral.
to a week ago, ready to board a boat bound for Ilha Grande. Rather annoyingly, I had to change minivan although no-one bothered to tell me until I realised the people entering my minivan were all heading for Paraty, not Rio. I then had to wait for about thirty minutes for my minivan to come and pick me up. We were then all crammed inside a tiny minivan with no luggage space (sound familiar?) so all our luggage had to be shoved onto the front row of seats.
For a journey that should last little over an hour, we then stopped for a fifteen minute break. Absolutely pointless.
Getting into Rio we then got stuck in some really bad traffic which delayed us for over an hour. I luckily wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere but others in the van who were, started to get really annoyed.
In short, it was longest, logistically illogical, and inefficient bus ride ever.

Although, the minivan dropped me right outside my hostel, my mood didn't really improve once I got inside.
First of all, I was pretty much interrogated as part of the hostel's check-in procedure and then discovered that they had no towels
Candeleria ChurchCandeleria ChurchCandeleria Church

Important historical church at the end of Avenue Presidente Vargas.
for me to hire - just like the hostel in Paraty, only those staying in private double rooms were entitled to towels. What a stupid rule. I meant I had to again use the Brazilian flag sarong that I bought on Ipanema Beach to dry myself off, with the dye running all over my body in the process.
Brazilian showers are quite strange too - water temperature is set with a small three-setting dial on the shower head itself that you have to tip-toe to adjust. I had no idea what setting was which but I probably knew that I didn't want to choose the "Inverno" setting seeing that it sounded like it would scald my skin should I select it.
As mentioned before, I have really struggled with Portuguese on this trip and have not really picked it up as easily as other languages either.

Again, just like the hostel in Paraty, I was the only English speaker in my dorm, with the rest of my dorm mates being from Brazil, Spain and Mexico. My dorm-mates in Paraty were from Chile and Argentina, and I had heard that the majority of tourists and backpackers travelling around South America
Avenue Presidente VargasAvenue Presidente VargasAvenue Presidente Vargas

One of the main thoroughfares through Central Rio, all the buildings on it are exactly 70 metres high and there is a strange mathematical yet nostalgic 60s/70s beauty about them.
are indeed, South American. Having met mostly Aussies, Brits and Americans in most hostels that I have been to, you tend to forget that backpackers come from other countries too.

My hostel is located in the neighbourhood of Botafogo, a fairly wealthy and residential area with a smattering of offices, garages and botecas. It has a much more local feel to it and there are a lot less tourists than places like Copacabana and Ipanema. I appreciated this and felt I was getting a much more authentic experience staying here.
Looking for something to eat, there definitely seemed like less choice here than there was in Copacabana and I settled on a burger and some acai from a stall near the Metro station. There were quite a few lively local botecas in the area though.

I pretty much had a whole day available to me before my flight back to London, so I thought I'd try and see some of the other sights I had missed on my first visit to Rio.
First up was Botafogo Beach which had a great view of Sugar Loaf Mountain, and was just a short walk from the hostel. The beach is
Inside The Cathedral Of San SebastianInside The Cathedral Of San SebastianInside The Cathedral Of San Sebastian

The stain glass windows are 64m high.
quite polluted though unfortunately, with loads of trash being washed ashore. You definitely wouldn't want to swim here, although it didn't stop a couple of locals from doing just that.
I then got onto the Metro and got off at Cinelandia to see the National Library, the National Museum of Arts, and the National Theatre.
Also within walking distance of here is also the Cathedral of San Sebastian. For such an important building, it is not what you'd expect a cathedral to look like. Built in a modern, 60s style that is so prevalent in Rio, the cathedral is made of concrete and looks like a massive upside-down cone, a bit like the Beehive in Wellington. With massive 64m-high stained glass windows, the cathedral can fit 20,000 people and is Rio's official cathedral.
Getting back on the Metro, I got off at Uruguaiana station to see a more traditionally designed church, the Candeleria Church in the Centro neighbourhood. Right behind the church is the gloriously concrete and 70s Avenue Presidente Vargas. All the concrete buildings are rectangular and uniform and are all 70 metres tall. Many of the buildings look disused yet there is a strange mathematical and symmetric beauty
Maracana StadiumMaracana StadiumMaracana Stadium

One of the shrines of football, the Maracana was undergoing upgrades meaning that the stadium resembled a construction site and was sadly closed to all visitors.
about them all.

The sight that I wanted to visit the most however, was the legendary Maracana Stadium, one of football's shrines.
Getting off at the Maracana station, I was disappointed to discover that the whole stadium was a construction site as work is done to get the stadium upgraded in time for the Confederations Cup in June, and for the World Cup in 2014. Having already been to a World Cup in Germany in 2006, attending a second one in the most successful football World Cup country in the world certainly has appeal, especially after this trip.
There was absolutely no access to the stadium today however, including the stadium's museum and shop, so in the end it was a wasted trip apart from having seen the stadium's exterior.
Back in Botafogo, there was one last thing to see. After a final cheese, banana and cinnamon toastie and an final cup of acai, I walked twenty minutes to Praia Vermelha for one last look at Sugar Loaf Mountain from the golden sand of the beach alongside it.
Not a bad final view of Rio, that is for sure.
The hostel was kind enough to let me have a
Municipal TheatreMunicipal TheatreMunicipal Theatre

I reckon the Brazilian flag is possibly the coolest looking national flag in the world.
shower before I headed to the airport for my ten hour flight to Madrid, although the taxi drive was a bit unnerving as the driver put on a DVD that he was watching on a small screen by the radio while he drove! At the speeds he was driving at, this was a car crash just waiting to happen, surely. Luckily it didn't happen while I was in the taxi. I mean, even that people who designed and built the in-car DVD player - what were they thinking?

While the general lax attitudes of Brazilians can go a bit far, it works for them in a lot of other ways and certainly contributes to the relaxed vibe that existed in all the places I visited.
Brazil is a great country to visit, certainly one of the most naturally beautiful I have visited. The trip was a good one, and had gone by far too quickly.
I really liked Rio in particular, a lively yet laid back city, and scenic to boot. I could perhaps live here, although I feel like I might not fit in that easily. The city might be a bit too scruffy around the edges for
Petrobras BuildingPetrobras BuildingPetrobras Building

Cool building built in the 70s to house Brazilian energy giant.
me too. However if the opportunity ever came up, I would definitely consider it.

So that is me out for another entry and it might be the last one for little while - although you just never know...

Até logo!
Derek


Additional photos below
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Talk Or Face The Consequences!Talk Or Face The Consequences!
Talk Or Face The Consequences!

I saw this billboard everywhere and have to say it amused and bemused in equal measure. Internet research has revealed that this is part of a campaign to get Brazilians to improve their English. An advertisement featuring Samuel L. Jackson sees local boys eaten by sharks for not speaking English properly, which explains this billboard.
BotafogoBotafogo
Botafogo

The street my hostel was on turns into a market every Saturday morning which you can see here. If you at the top of the photo, you can see Christ The Redeemer.
Botafogo BotecasBotafogo Botecas
Botafogo Botecas

Lively local nightlife of Botafogo.
National LibraryNational Library
National Library

One of three important old buildings in the Cinelandia area.
National Museum Of Fine ArtsNational Museum Of Fine Arts
National Museum Of Fine Arts

Opposite the National Library.
Floriano Peixoto MonumentFloriano Peixoto Monument
Floriano Peixoto Monument

Monument erected in Cinelandia in honour of the second president of Brazil.
UrcaUrca
Urca

The streets around Urca, the area where Sugar Loaf Mountain resides, are among the wealthiest in Rio.


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