Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Published: May 14th 2017
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David here...

The taxi arrived promptly at 05:00, an obscene time to have to get up, but it was the cheapest flight from Salvador to Rio. The airport and flight were both fine. Once at Rio airport we found the BRT ticket booth at the far end of the hall and bought tickets for the bus, which was waiting outside at the platform. The Rio BRT service is exactly like the Bogota Transmilenio service, where you purchase a card and amount of journeys you want and you scan your card to get onto the platform. One card for as many people as you like. The 30 semi-directo bus was the one in so we just jumped on. We were soon on our way and following our route on the map on the bus. This bus didn't stop at all of the stations, which is why it was a semi-directo.

We jumped off at the Vicente do Carvalho station and switched to the metro, again buying tickets for the metro was cheap and easy. We made it to the Gloria subway stop near to our apartment. We'd made excellent time from the airport, which meant we still had 2 hours until we could check in. We had pinpointed a cafe, but found it did not open for an hour, so we walked to the apartment in the hope that we would find somewhere else enroute. Unfortunately we did not, and the walk was up some steep hills and was roastingly hot. We found ourselves walking round in a massive loop with our packs and ended up back at the first cafe we picked out just as it opened.

Gregora Arte cafe was very nice, however the menu was all in Portuguese. The Google translations weren't very helpful either. In the end, with some help from the waitress we ordered a steak and chicken dish and we shared them. Brazlian food comes with lots of sides and this was no exception. The food was actually very good and came in under £20, which was pretty reasonable. Then it was back up the hill we'd already climbed once to check in.

The Sugar Loft apartment we were staying in was modern, spacious, clean and comfortable. We loved it straight away. It helped that it came with a washing machine, always useful. After a chat with the apartment manager who gave us a run down of things to do, places to avoid at night and good restaurants in the area, we made our way to the Vivo Rio ticket office. We had spotted that Five Finger Death Punch we playing Rio on our 2nd night there and after much discussion over the cost of going (£65 each) we decided we should get tickets. We couldn't get them online as you needed a Brazlian CPF number so we bought them from the ticket office. Thankfully not sold out.

Afer that it was over to the Modern Art Gallery next door, which was very disappointing, having only one tiny section on the one floor currently open. We then wandered down past the harbour and onto the beach at Flamengo. We walked right down to the end and into a shopping area, picking up a plug socket adaptor for 50p from someone on the street as our socket adaptors we had did not fit the bulk of Brazilian power sockets. We also got a couple of wafer, chocolate and marshmallow sweets, a little like Tunnocks Teacakes, for 25p each. These were delicious. We then bought steak and other supplies from the supermarket and the rest of the evening was spent in the apartment, relaxing and researching our plans for the next day.

After a breakfast of cornflakes, a novelty for us really, we headed out and walked to the Lago do Machado where the vans left to go up to Christ the Redeemer. We had looked at taking the train, however you cannot book those for the same day and had to print out the online tickets, not possible in our apartment. We tried unsuccessfuly to buy tickets for the van online, but it would not accept payment. So we just hoped they let you buy on the day. We found the ticket office right in front of the church, after ignoring the tour touts and sure enough, you can buy tickets for there and then.

We were on our way up the hill in a matter of minutes. There was a stop halfway up where we switched vans, all very well organised and we were soon walking up the stairs to the viewing platform in front of the iconic statue overlooking Rio. The view is pretty spectacular though it was still busy despite it being low season and midweek. We were up there about an hour before deciding to head back down and walk into Santa Teresa, the area we were staying, for a late lunch.

The walk into Santa Teresa was again all uphill, and we were hot and sweaty when we stumbled into Cafe do Alto. We opted for a couple of Brazilian dishes to share, which were absolutely delicious. The amount of sides you get with each dish is astonishing and makes for a filling and varied meal, especially when sharing 2 very different dishes. We then went to the nearby gallery at Museu da Chacra do Ceu, which was fortunately free on Wednesdays, and is well worth 30 minutes of your time. Some art to see and some rooms made up so they look like they did when it was a fully functioning colonial home. It was then back to the apartment with some beer where we watched the Southampton v Arsenal match live. Hard to promote Saints FC around the world when they keep losing, this time 0-2.

After drowning our sorrows we were ready to head to the venue for the gig. We'd decided that as we'd already had a couple of beers, and had been told that the area around the venue was not safe at night, we would forgo any further drinks at the gig. We got to the venue with no issues and found loads of people outside all drinking from the cheap street vendors. So we ended up buying some more beer and joining the locals outside. We then made our way in to see Hatebreed who were the support act. We ended up buying 3 more beers each inside the venue as we were having such a good time. We're not massively into Hatebreed but I have to say, they were pretty good, it was so good to hear proper Metal music for a change. Five Finger Death Punch carried this on and were really good. We had a wonderful evening and it felt like it was over far too quickly.

We left the venue fully intending to get a taxi back to the apartment but loads of people were walking the same way we wanted to go, so ended up walking all the way back, stopping off at a little burger stall for a late night bacon burger and big beer each to round off the evening. We loved seeing FFDP, a band we'd missed last year in the UK as tickets sold out. We'd only ever seen them at the Download festival and we'd wanted to see a full show for a while now. We'd first got into FFDP while in New Zealand on our last RTW trip, so there is some sort of symmetry going on there. Needless to say, it was just a brilliant experience going to a gig in Rio!

The next day was a slower start due to the late night, so it was closer to lunch time when we emerged from the subway at Ipanema and wandered over to the beach. We walked from one end all the way to the other, stopping off to buy a beer and drink it on the beach, before walking round to Copacabana beach and walking along there. We fully intended on eating at a Churrascaria but the one we picked out was just far too expensive for our budget, at £34 each for lunch. We ended up wandering through the streets rather aimlessly before heading back to the apartment via a local bus. Just in the nick of time actually as it started raining as we headed up the hill.

The evening meal was at another local Brazilian place called Os Ximenes where we shared a pork dish and a steaky, beany stew. Again with more sides than you could shake a stick at. All washed down with Brazilian beer, which is really rather tasty. We've avoided Bramha and stuck mainly with either Skol or Antartica Original. Very refreshing after a long day sightseeing. The evening was spent back in the apartment with a few beers and a lovely Chilean Chardonnay while watching About Time and a cheesy Jason Statham film called Hummingbird. For us, a little slice of what we would be doing at home, which was a welcome change.

Our final day in Rio started a bit later again and kicked off with a ride down the hill on the free Santa Teresa tram (they do charge on the way back). The trams look really old but are in fact brand new and just made to replicate older style trams. It was a pleasant journey down, saving our poor legs a little. We walked around the shopping area for a bit before popping into the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes gallery, which had a varied range of art from many periods and was surprisingly good for the £2 each we paid to enter. We stopped off at the national fast food chain, Bobs, and had a burger each (we weren't tempted to try Bobs Nuts!) Pretty good, not as good as Burger King but better than McDonalds in my opinion.

We made good use of the apartment in the evening, cooking another meal of steak, peas, sweetcorn, potatoes and a madiera sauce, yummy. We then settled down to watch Resident Evil Nemesis and The Conjuring before settling down for bed. We were sad that it was nearly time to leave the Sugar Loft apartments which had been our home for 4 nights. Highly recommended as it offered home comforts at a fraction of the prices we'd found elsewhere, Sao Paulo for example.

Our flight the next day was at 13:40 so we gave ourselves the standard 2 hours in the airport (as recommend by Brazilian airlines, even for domestic flights) and 2 hours travelling time, despite it only taking us a bit over 1 hour from the airport on the way in. We got to the subway and found that the line we wanted to get to Vicente do Carvalho does not run at weekends. Fortunately Suzanne had spotted earlier that you could get it from a stop further along so we jumped on the line that was running and got to the transfer station and then finally onto the right line. This used up about 20 extra minutes as we tried to figure out what we were doing. We then just missed an airport bus at the BRT stop and the screen showed the next bus was in 17 minutes...and did not change. The bus did eventually turn up, and we made it to the airport just over 2 hours from setting off from the apartment. We had a quick McDonalds lunch, the first McD's of the trip, before boarding flight number 31 so far.

Suzanne really liked Rio, but it is not my favourite place in Brazil, I'll be honest. It is a little dirty, has a big street population and reputation that you just cannot ignore. There were times I felt intimidated, even during the day, though I must stress that we had no issues with anyone at all. After Morro and Salvador, the beaches that Rio is famed for just do not match up. But, there are some good galleries, the view from Christ the Redeemer is stunning and the food we had was lovely. The gig was an absolute highlight, a real highpoint of this trip. So overall, I'll look back on Rio fondly and would be happy to visit again, even if it is just to try Bobs Nuts.

Additional photos below
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15th May 2017
View from Christ the Redeemer

Amazing view.
15th May 2017
View from Christ the Redeemer

Thanks for the comment. The view from the Christ statue is stunning.

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