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Published: March 5th 2013
Our adventure begins in Rio de Janeiro. We land late at night on a Friday at Galeão–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG), so named after the Galeão beach that used to exist on that site and also Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim who referenced the airport in one of his songs. (Later on our trip we would hear his music played at a jam in Salvador).
We taxied over the Rio-Niteroi Bridge to a nice neighbourhood called Botofogo. As it was about 1am there werent many taxi options at the airport, and we ended up using Radio Taxis who were expensive! $R110. We later heard to avoid booking taxis and you are better off jumping a metered cab.
Botafogo has a marina and a (mostly unused) beach and is close by bus or metro to Zona Sul (Copacabana etc) or Zona Norte. It being Friday night and the end of the month, the streets were busy and the bars massively overflowing. This bode well!
We stayed in a private spare room in a flat we had found on Airbnb.com. The helpful, nice owner was called Jerry, a film costume designer and his place was pretty kitsch and 70s. Jerry
Santa Teresa View
Looking down onto Centro Rio
was a funny character, often standing in a very Brazilian way looking like a flamingo, standing on one leg with the other foot perched against the knee...Jerry loved a party too, we never saw him without his bloodshot eyes and definitely not before midday. With hindsight we wouldn´t recommend staying in Botafogo but it was good toget to know a less touristy area and see a bit of real Rio, the pace of life was pretty chilled Monday through Sunday. Lunchtime was busiest, people eating out the 'prato do dia' (meat, rice, beans and salad mostly). And old boys drinking beers, happily adding to their lifelong work of big bellies. hindsight, we probb
Day 1 we hit Santa Teresa. This is an arty, more 'bohemian' area in Rio up in the hills. The tram isn't working so the easiest route there is to take a taxi from Gloria. It's mostly residential with lovely ageing colonial buildings, winding streets around the hill, and also some nice cafes, bars and shops. You can get a pretty good view down over the city too. This was also where we started to see Brazil's amazing street art, as well as a junkyard-cum-sculpture garden.
We had brunch, also learning that Brazilians love cheese in a lot of their meals and snacks.
We stumbled across a tumbledown mansion and before we knew it, we'd been whisked into a Santa Teresa tram museum (also in the house), and treated to the world's fastest guided tour, by a comedic little old dude who was missing some fingers. As soon as we leave a small donation for the museum, our guide turned photographer and insisted on taking our photo on the old tram carriage, largely for his own amusement.
Walking down the hill from Santa Teresa (hot and sticky by now), we reach Lapa. This is apparently party central, and the remnants of Friday night were all around - it stank of booze and puke, there were drunks asleep on the floor (most with one hand in their undies). The famous white arches are far from white. Lapa makes Camden look like Kensington. We didn't stick around long, it's a night-time destination after all, but we don't hear that many good reports generally from the people we meet. Eventually we go back at night during Carnaval and it's rammo. There's definitely a party to be had
Santa Teresa Hug
This man looked like he needed the hug of the guy behind lugging bags up the hilly streets of Santa Teresa.
somewhere, but it reminds us of Leicester Square!
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