We landed in Rio 10 minutes ahead of schedule after enjoying a flight with extra leg room because we had the 'front row seats'. This was great for us as it meant we could get some sleep but you had to feel sorry for the 7' guy behind us! After a 1.5 hours stop at Sao Paulo sat on the plane we were off again and landed in Rio at 7.50am on Monday 2nd June.
Rio is not at all as we had expected, you read so many horror stories about how you will get mugged or stabbed if you even step outside. In reality it's very relaxed and not at all intimidating, a bit like London really, you don't go walking around with your bag open but so far all has been fine and we haven't even had to use our moneybelts once!
Our first few days were a mixed bag with lots of sunshine and one day of rain. The visit to see Christ was great and we did this in glorious 28 degree sunshine. Sophie was a little disappointed with the size of him from the city down below, when she saw him up close he
was big but still not as big as she had imagined.. some people are just never happy!! The view from the top of the Corcovado really is something else and we would recommend a trip up there as early as possible to anyone lucky enough to be off to Rio. It really helps to get a perspective of the city and where everything is.
Tuesday brought rain to Rio, this city really is an outdoors kind of place so you just have to live with it. Rain macs were packed and we ventured out to the Jardim Botânico. Lots of trees, plants and birds were to be found but the highlight for us was the army of leaf cutting ants.. how sad!
So to Tuesday night and the highlight of Dale's life so far! We had seen a football match advertised in the hostel but by the time we decided it would be worth the $R100 to go it had sold out. Disappointed we had set ourselves up for a few drinks in Ipanema that night but our ears pricked up when we heard there may be tickets still avilable.. it was 6.10pm and the bus was outside
ready to go! We were off.... this was Sophie's first ever football match and she was off to the 120,000 seater Macarena Stadium to watch the Boca Jnrs vs Fluminense.. how cool! The atmosphere at the stadium was electric.. it really was everything and more you would expect with flares being set off, bands playing and so many flags! The match itself was also fantastic, there were moves from the Brazilians you have never seen before.. fancy footwork and everything! Thankfully Fluminense won 3-1 so the 119,000 Brazil fans left the stadium with smiles on their faces!
The beaches here are fantastic, so clean and so long... they just go on and on so we have spent a few days taking them in. Waves are massive so we spend a lot of our time watching the surfers do their thing. You get someone trying to sell you something every 10 seconds or so.. beer, dresses, peanuts and even a strange harp musical machine.. none of which are wanted but it's funny to see them try to intimidate the English/American accents to try to get you to buy from them!
Friday was our visit to Pão de Açúcar (Sugar
Loaf mountain). Sophie had read that you can take a trail and walk up to the Morro da Urca which is 1/2 way up. The main incentive was to save $16 on the cable car ride but it was a double bonus as it was a really nice (although steep) walk through the jungle forest to the top. We managed to spot our first little monkey on the way up which made it even better. The forest was full of wildlife, mainly butterflies but prettiest ones you have ever seen... yes we are geeks! Sugar Loaf itself gave yet more fantastic views of the city, mainly of Centro & Copacabana but we also got to see the other mountains way off in the distance.
We ventured out with some of our other hostel friends on Friday night because apparently this is the night to be seen out. Lapa is the place to go and when we got there it was the busiest place we'd all seen. The streets basically turn into bars with street vendors selling beer, tequila and caprhianas. Once you have partied in the street for a few hours you venture to one of the clubs to
Ipanema from Corcovado
We were staying here.. one block away from the beach.
party away until dawn. Unfortunately our limited budget doesn´t stretch to partying til dawn so we went back at a modest 3am!
We have loved our time in Rio and there are a few observations you will let you in on...
- The pavements are mosaic cobbles.. not good for heels but we needn't worry about that!
- Eveyone has a dog and everywhere there are dog grooming shops.. some dogs even have shoes!
- The streets are so clean.. everywhere there is a road sweeper so no cigarette butts or dog poo here
- People are running everywhere.. on the beach, by the lagoon, streets.. old people... young people... everyone except Sophie!
- If you own a railings company then you must be loaded. Everyone has railings and fancy gates outside their apartments. If you come to Rio you need to be in this business!
- Not everyone wears thongs but Dale normally manages to spot those that do!
The thing we don't love is that it is so expensive. We had not anticipated at all how expensive it would be, our daily budget had already been blown out of the window with
the hostel at $80 a night but everything is expensive.. this is with the exception of Havianas (flip flops!) which are only £6!! Sadly Dale has limited Sophie to just 2 pairs :o( We will be glad to move onto somewhere a bit cheaper that's for sure.
So our time in Rio is nearly over. We are off to Ilha Grande on Sunday which is rumoured to have some of the best beaches in the world so we´ll let you know how we find them!
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