At first we were afraid. We were petrified. Kept thinking there might be a criminal right by our side, but then we stopped spending our nights thinking of what all could go wrong, and we grew strong, and we learnt how to get along! We survived! Yeah, yeah.
It was intimidating when we arrived in Rio. It was also as hot as hell. We were still missing Argentina and haven’t gotten used to the Portuguese language yet. The area which the bus-stop is in is very busy and dirty with lots of neglected buildings and ugly graffiti everywhere. There are thousands of busses and taxis constantly on the go. We were clutching our bags because we’ve been warned that the place is not safe. Why would anyone want to come to Rio!?
But we were pleasantly surprised and ended up really liking the city! The people are friendly, welcoming and helpful. There are some zombie-looking drug addicts walking around and it’s harsh to see so many homeless people sleeping on the pavement but in general the local people have an awesome energy about them. The city is lively with an exciting vibe.
The beaches are beautiful with soft sand and coconut stands. Girls, regardless of their body build, were all wearing skimpy, G-string bikinis which just covered the bare essentials. Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach were packed with people even though it was in the middle of the week. There were vendors walking around in their socks selling all sorts of snacks and clothing. (The socks help for the hot sand.)
Accommodation and food in Rio is not cheap! We stayed in Mr. Wanderley’s house (Casa de Wanderley). He lives in San teresa neighborhood in a 3 bedroom apartment. Well, he lives in what looks like it used to be a storage room behind the kitchen and then he hires out the 3 other rooms. His house is decorated with interesting “art specimens,” and rather strange paintings and photos. He was a great host! Although he couldn’t speak english we communicated with Google translate on his computer. He explained how to get everywhere and what to do and what not to do. I highly recommend his place, we booked it on booking.com.
Mr. Wanderley advised us to book tickets for Christ the Redeemer on www.corcovado.com.br which saved us some time when we went there. The statue is very big and has a spectacular view of the city.
We went to Books Hostel after being invited by Joe, whom I will tell you a bit more about in another post. There we were introduced to caipirinhas, Brazil’s famous cocktail, and after happy hour we went with Rudi and Lisa to this really delicious and cheap buffet place 2 blocks from Books. Traditional caipirinha is made with crushed lime, ice, cane sugar and cachaça but we tasted a variation with watermelon included! 😉
Now I know why Rio is such a loved and popular place to visit! (And not just for its cocktails!)