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Published: August 27th 2018
After an overnight flight it was great to get to the hotel and grab breakfast at Mama Shelter a quirky little hotel in Santa Teresa - good place to stay for our first four days and a little different.
Santa Teresa is situated between a favela and downtown and as such has some characteristics of both - interesting buildings and great bars, very bohemian, but not the place to wander after dark (sunset 5.30pm).
The first afternoon we did get out into Santa Teresa where we found great live music & dancing but heading back were advised by a local to go a different route as a couple of tourists were assaulted on our direct route back to the hotel only hours earlier.
After 12 hours solid sleep we caught the tram downtown and wandered into the Cathedral - not what you would call classically designed! Concrete with fabulous stained glass windows. It was Sunday, very quiet downtown, not good, so we headed out to the marina, very European, and ended up eating in an Italian bar called Bota - perhaps not the thing to do in Brazil but a great spot with live music
and a sunset.
Back to Santa Teresa and after resting a while had a meal at what looked like a busy bar but was in fact a clothes shop that did food - odd but good
After a few days in Santa Teresa we moved to Copacabana where we were due to meet our tour in 3 days time.
Completely different feel - it was as if we had moved to another city or even country.
Managed to book onto a free walking tour with https://strawberrytours.com/rio-de-janeiro - well worth checking out. A 4 hour tour showing off the most interesting sights downtown including the Lapa arches, imperial paco, Calendria church, the Selaron steps and a coffee shop which felt like it could be in Vienna but at a quarter of the price.
Of course we had to find time for Copacabana and Ipanema beaches which we did over the next couple of days - watching pevoly or foot volleyball. They take it very seriously with betting on the side all round. Fantastic skills and great to watch.
Managed to hit a few museums while we were here too - museum of tomorrow in a
futuristic building well worth a visit, museum of art - great samba history better if you read Portuguese or Spanish, museum of modern art - not great, but had some black & white photos of the construction of the Cathedral & the opening ceremony of Christ the Redeemer which were interesting.
Thursday saw us out with a night tour of Lapa with strawberry tours again. If you arrive in Rio midweek then definitely book onto this to orient you to the night scene.
Oh and you can't go to Rio with visiting Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain. Fantastic views on a clear day across the city and you can see how it has developed. Noticeable was how the Favelas spread behind downtown and from the valleys up the hillsides, once the African slaves were given their freedom. It was also where samba originated. Other places of note to visit if you have time - Chinese vista for the views and the botanical gardens.
Rio is a great place with lots of variety and certainly compared to Europe is cheap to get around and eat. Spoke to someone from Brighton yesterday who got a flight from
Paris return for £120 so at the right time cheap to get here too. Their winter is like our summer but with less rain so a great time to be here in their low season.
Tomorrow we start our tour to Lima so goodbye Rio, it's been great.
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