Two brothers mountain in the background on Ipanema beach
We arrived in Rio at 7am on Sunday and went straight to a hostel in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa which is on a hill overlooking the city center. What the guidebook didn't say, after the taxi had already left, was we had to climb about 6 flights of stairs outside in the drizzling rain to actually reach the entrance of the hostel since it was literally on the side of the hill. But we got checked in a settled in, and after recovering from the climb walked back down the hill and caught a bus to the hippie market that happens only on Sundays in a square in the neighborhood of Ipanema which is on the other side of the city by the beach. The fair was really good and we were able to buy some traditional Brazilian tapestries and artistic postcards. We also sampled some of the local dessert, a type of sponge cake almost flan-like but with a nutty brown sugary topping, that these women dressed in traditional Brazilian dresses at one stall were selling/cooking. It was delicious. Later that night we went out to eat at a restaurant called Espiritu Santo up the hill from our hostel
Women that made the cake
wearing traditional brazilian garb
which was excellent and then signed up to go to a Favela Funk party that night, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. The bus picked us up at our hostel along with 4 other people from England who were also going, then we made two more stops at other hostels until the bus was full - which took about an hour. Then we finally were on our way to the party, except we stopped at a random gas station for 30 minutes where 4 other buses were that had picked up tons more people from other hostels in different areas of the city. Then we finally reached the club 2 hrs later after leaving the hostel. Got in, found out we were allowed in the VIP area since that was included in the price, but then found out that the buses wouldn't be leaving until 4am in the morning! We were hoping to be home by 2am since we wanted to get up the next morning to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue, but that didn't happen obviously, since the bus also took 2 hrs to get us back home, not crawling in bed until 6am. The whole
point of going was to party with the local people that lived in the shanty towns outside the city or "favelas" but it turned out it was just some random club outside of the city, and no favelas. But we had a good time overall despite all the delays and somehow managed to get up at 10am the next morning.
On Monday it was cloudy and threatening rain, so we decided to wait until Tuesday to go see the statue, and since our hostel was on the side of a hill and didn't feel like too safe of an area/there wasn't much to do there, we checked out of the hostel and moved to one down in Ipanema only 3 blocks from the beach! After having lunch at a little soup and salad place which reminded us of Panera Bread we decided to go visit the tropical rain forest which is basically right up against the city. It took longer to get there than we thought and since we didn't leave until later that afternoon, by the time we got there the national park was closing in an hour! So we basically jogged up the trails to a lookout
This is a popular street snack. They just cut open a coconut and stick a straw down inside and you drink the milk or water straight from the coconut. Needed a little sugar if you ask me, but still good!
point, took 2 pictures, and jogged back down snapping photos of a chapel and some waterfalls on the way down. Luckily our taxi driver had agreed to come back and get us and we got out of the park just in time. We cooked dinner at the hostel that night and went to bed early since we were out so late the night before.
We woke up Tuesday and it was thankfully bright and sunny! We had made plans the night before with a couple from Australia to meet up and go see the statue together thinking it would be cheaper and safer. But the English guys who we had gone out to the Favela Funk Party decided that morning they wanted to go with us last minute and we got held up a little and ending up missing the couple from Australia by 2 minutes. But it turned out okay in the end. We took the bus to the train station to take the old cog train up to the statue which was a little scary since it was almost vertical and on the side of the mountain, but we made it to the top and the view
Night time view from Santa Teresa
On the hill overlooking the city center
was astounding as well as the statue was gigantic! We ate lunch at the top of Corcovado or Hunchback which the statue is on top of and then decided to break off from the English guys to go see Sugar Loaf Mountain which is opposite of the Christ the Redeemer statue and would give us a different view of the city. We reached the top just in time for sunset which was the best time to go and the view and the sunset were absolutely unforgettable, even though by that time I had taken so many pictures my camera had died, but don't worry Victoria took some and I'll get them from her later. We went out for sushi that night and hit the sack early again since it had been such a long day.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we went to the beach to lay out since it was sunny again and had a really good time up until the point we realized Victoria's ipod was gone. Someone had stolen it right from under my nose even though I was sitting up reading a book facing in the direction where Victoria was laying out beside me and her ipod was
right beside her head. I guess the warning that Rio is one of the most dangerous/most likely places to get mugged/something stolen from you proved true. Luckily she still has her old one back in the states and her music is on her computer and it wasn't her passport or credit cards or something else essential. We just decided to take it easy the rest of the day laying out in the hammocks on the porch at the hostel, writing postcards, reading books that the hostel has and are about to start cooking dinner. Rio de Janeiro is an absolutely beautiful city with the mountains and beach both right at hand, but it is also one of the most expensive cities in South America!
Today we will be flying all day back to BA for a 3 hr layover, then to Lima, Peru and on to Cuczo finally spending Friday night there. Leg 2 down! 2 more to go!
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