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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: -22.9035, -43.2096
Rio's city centre - it's preceded by its reputation, known for being crime-riddled, gritty, and poor. I don't quite agree with that assessment, like I've pretty much disagreed with everything similar that's been said about everywhere in Brazil - I haven't had any issues so far, and rarely have felt unsafe. Perhaps it's been because I've been lucky, or perhaps it's been part of the Brazilian governments efforts to clean up the country in the next two years - whatever it is, I'm not complaining.
The city centre is Rio at its chaotic and insane best - bustling, colourful, and loud. Due to lack of planning on my part, Monday was actually the worst time to head down here, as almost all of the museums and attractions are closed. I hadn't planned on seeing many of them, but it would've been nice to have visited one or two of the attractions. Oh well ... there's always next time in Rio! Perhaps then I'll also get the chance to check out the samba clubs in Lapa ... I walked through today, but this neighbourhood is best enjoyed after dark.
Santa Teresa - described as a cool little Bohemian enclave, this
was the highlight of today's touring around town. There really aren't any sights up in Santa Teresa ... the attraction is the area itself and also the bonde, its famous trolley that shakes, rattles, and rolls up from the city centre and into Santa Teresa's cobble stoned streets above. And as is all too common in Brazil, it was poorly organized, which led to longer-than-necessary wait times to get up there - it took about an hour to get a ticket and board the bonde.
I ended up grabbing a late lunch at a funky little cafe and lingered ... then lingered some more ... up in Santa Teresa, the temperatures seem a bit cooler than down in Ipanema. The cafe was located on the second floor, with a great balcony overlooking Santa Teresa. It's a neat little place and somewhat reminded me of Valparaiso in Chile. I skipped taking the bonde back to the city centre, deciding to walk instead - along the way, I had hoped to see Parque das Ruinas (Park of the Ruins) but surprise, it was also closed Monday. Then it started to rain ... then it started to pour ... and of course, I
had forgotten my umbrella back at the hostel. This ended up working out alright - I was soaked by the time I descended to the city centre, so my soggy clothing helped keep me cool for the warmer temperatures down below.
Back at the hostel, I ran into American Patrick, someone who despite having the same first name, shares little in common with me. He's a fair bit taller and weighs quite a bit more than me, much of it (probably at least 20 lbs) I attribute to his incredibly hairy body. I know this because American Patrick has a terrible habit of walking around without his shirt on.
Anyway ... he's a law student who had recently passed the bar and is taking a five-month break before starting with a law firm, traveling around Europe and now South America. Apparently, if a law firm wants somebody desperately enough they will offer a much later start date, as any new lawyer starting a career essentially loses his life for at least five years, working six to seven days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day. It's their last hurrah before giving up their social life. An offer
of five months is almost unheard of and this particular law firm remarked that nobody had ever before taken the full five months before. American Patrick basically asked them what the latest possible start date was, and said that would be his first day, which is coming up extremely quickly. So I guess we do have a little in common ... right now, he's doing the traveling bum thing, but that is coming to an end. Thankfully, my travel bum ways appear to have no end in sight.
American Patrick wasn't supposed to be back at the hostel as he was checking out and moving to a different place. But he had returned because it turned out that his new hotel was actually a famous Brazilian Love Motel. For those unfamiliar with them, they are places where couples can discreetly go to in order to share a moment of ... ahem ... love. They are quite common in Brazil, as many people live at home until a later age, and this gives them a place to go. Imagine the awkwardness of bringing someone home and having to say "Hey Mom, Dad, Grandma, little sis ... you better wear some earplugs
Confeitaria Colombo ...
Feels like a fancy cafe or pastry shop in Europe.
tonight, because this one is a screamer!!!" They are also useful for affairs, as I'm told that faithfulness isn't always common in this country.
Tonight was a bit of a bust - every Monday there's a big street party in the nearby area of Gavea. A few Aussies and Kiwis from the hostel talked about going there, but then they bailed when they heard about a boat party with food and cheap drinks. Booooo!!!! Of course, it didn't matter for me in the end, as it was absolutely pouring last night so I imagine the street party wouldn't have been the greatest.
It's too bad ... almost all the hostels I've stayed at so far in Brazil either organize great nights out, or can set you up with local operators who do the same. But while fun, these aren't usually the most authentic of Brazilian nights out - I'd bet that the boat party is always full of backpackers, with nary a local in sight. A lot of backpackers party just for the sake of partying, which is fine if that's your goal. But for me, it's usually more about checking out the local scene and if there's a party to
Brazilian Sweets ...
Guava and catupiry, and maracuja sauce (passion fruit) over whipped cream, in a bit of a cookie-like crust. Not bad, but very sweet like most things here in Brazil.
be had, so be it.
Brazil has such an incredibly rich culture of music with so many incredible live bands, that a rather simple night out at a little dive bar can be far more enjoyable than just another evening at another forgettable Top 40 club, that ends up seeming like just another generic night at just another generic club. I've been traveling for nearly two weeks and the best night out I've had is by far O do Boragado, the samba club in Sao Paulo. Unforgettable!
In the end it was a moot point, since the boat party also got canceled because of the weather. The Aussies and Kiwis ended up just going to a bar nearby, and I ended up popping back over to Hostel Harmonia to catch up with Rianne, who was leaving for Sao Paulo the next day, in order to catch a flight back home to Amsterdam the following morning. That's what's great about this little street of hostels - people keep moving between places and everybody hangs out together out in the street in front. I'd ended up popping back to Hostel Harmonia a few times to chill with the peeps, as did the
Rua da Alfandega ...
Busy, suffocating shopping street ... this was near the end, where it mostly cleared up.
Swedish couple, who had changed hostels earlier.
Because of the pouring rain, we ended up stumbling a few metres nearby to what looked like a funky little bar, which turned out to specialize in beers, with a huge Belgian selection. Unfortunately, this meant the beers were super-expensive, so we stuck to just having one bottle of large beer, sticking to one of the cheaper ones, and following up with some Coke. Exciting last night for her in Rio, right? But though a simple and quiet night, it was cool ... we both commented about how that's what's great about the backpacker fraternity - the ability to just have a beer over some deep and interesting conversation with someone who is essentially a stranger. It's why we do it!
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