Woo hoo! We’re finally in Rio de Janeiro!
After hearing a lot of horror stories from fellow travelers and being advised to dress down as much as possible, keep a low profile and not carry any valuables with us while we’re in Rio, we decided that we’d rather be camera-less for a few days than have to go through the saga of reporting it lost, claiming insurance and in the end, not have a camera to document the rest of our trip. Instead, we relied on Ryan’s blackberry and my iPhone for this part of the trip so this post won’t be as picture heavy as most of my other posts. Sorry guys!
Camera-protection aside, Rio was a melting pot of sexiness and griminess. We found the major touristy areas to be quite safe as there were plenty of tourists around! But Downtown Rio was a different story! I talk about that more below.
Lagoa Guest House
We were quite shocked when we pulled into our hostel. The pictures on the website gave us the impression that it was in a quiet suburb on a quiet street but the taxi stopped at a house in the middle of a busy street!
The hostel wasn’t the greatest. Our room was very basic, the door to the bathroom was hanging off the edge of its hinges and the window in the bathroom was broken. But we had a tv in the room with cable. You know how we feel about cable tv. 🙂
Things to Do
Seeing the Sights
We spent our first two days around the major sights of the touristy part of town – Ipanema Beach, Leblon, Copacabana Beach, checking out the Jesus statue up on Cordocodova, eating around town and snacking on acai and moqueca wherever we could.
I’m notorious for wearing down all of my Havaianas thongs within 6 months. They’re originated from Brazil and are about half the price so I stocked up them big time. If you’re a fan of Havaianas, you might want to do the same too! Just make sure you check the exchange rate to make sure you’re getting a good deal!
Rio’s downtown though was a whole different story. It is quite a big town, and yet it feels like it is not big enough to cater for the number of people that live there. I was very nervous when we got off the bus. There were people everywhere, just hanging about and you can feel very clearly that you’re being watched. It was quite unnerving.
We had to walk through a park to get to the other side and the park, a beautiful park in its own right, but it reeked of urine and there were homeless people around every corner that you can feel watching you too. We followed a local walking through the park all the way to the other side. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, if they wanted to rob us I guess but it made us feel a little bit more safe for a while.
We only went into the town as we wanted to check out Santa Teresa, a suburb close by with cobbled streets and ageing mansions as well as a mosaic staircase that a Chilean artist had been working on for about 20 years! And despite all of the scariness of getting there, Santa Teresa was really really nice, we got a tram up the hill all the way to the top and there was a great view from up there.
We also had a delicious lunch at an Amazonian restaurant there called Espirito Santa. Unfortunately they didn’t have the famous Amazonian berries which taste like chocolate but we tried some other crazy fruit flavoured juices and had some fantastic fish!
This was the last place on our list to check out. If you look across behind where we took the photo from, you should be able to see the Jesus statue from there. But the weather was all foggy so if we make a trip to the Sugarloaf Mountain, I doubt we’ll be able to see anything anyway.
We got a tip from a fellow traveller we met at the top of Cordocodova that you can see Urca from one of the shopping malls in Botafogo so we did that instead. Brilliant views!!