Tomorrow we leave Rio. We have had an amazing time here and will definitely be back. Contrary to what many would have thought reading some of the guidebooks and websites, we have found this to be probably the friendliest city either of us have ever been to. The people here are quick with a smile and quicker with questions even if they can barely speak English; where are you from? What’s your name? Usually followed by some questions from us too; where is the metro and how do you say (insert word here) in Portuguese, being the two main ones.
On Friday we finally made it up to the Christo. (We have plenty of pictures up on flickr so go have a gander! Thanks to Billy for the removal of the crowd on the above picture!) It was amazing (if a bit high up for my tastes) and the views were spectacular. Neither of our cameras could ever really do it justice but you basically get a 360 degree view of most of the city. We got a bus there from Botafogo and we decided that instead of getting the standard cog railway up that we would walk it. Fortunately for us, a couple of hundred yards past the railway, some guys from the local favela were standing around with their motorbikes. They offered a taxi service on the back of their bikes up to the top of the access road at Corcovado, so after a bit of haggling and ensuring we got helmets, we jumped on and got taken up. We spotted a monkey on the way up and the two gents were even kind enough to let us stop and take a couple of pics gratis. 😀 Lovely fellows.
At the top of the access road you have to pay entrance and you then get a lift up the rest of the way in a bus. All in all if we had tried to walk it, I think we would still be walking now. Its a long way up. We went up and had a look around and took numerous photos, aided by a very helpful security guard who shooed people out of our way and was our personal photographer for a wee while. I tried to stay away from the edge and keep myself central at all times, fortunately he was quite insistent about getting the best shots!
On Saturday we finally returned to the beach! After a week and a half of both avoiding it due to burnt feet and some bad weather we decided to head to Ipanema beach to see the beautiful people (turns out, we fit right in). The surf was amazing and super-powerful. I got slammed into the seabed a few times trying to body surf it and rag-dolled by waves numerous other times. If you tried to just stand up and let it wash over you it would know you down pretty much every time. Extremely fun stuff 😀 Unfortunately for us Eilidh’s trusty waterproof and shockproof camera seemed to meet its match against these waves and is currently out of working order. We spent Tuesday trying to get it fixed, only to be told, when we found the shop, that they didn’t do repairs and we would have to try the one in São Paulo. We will not be there for another few weeks at least as we are heading to Ilha Grande today (Thursday). We are booked in for 11 nights in the Aquário Hostel and have even managed to negotiate a free dinner each and a boat trip to Lopes Mendes beach which is one of the top ten beaches in Brazil, if not the world, depending on who you ask! We are looking forward to the change of pace from Rio………its a tough life!
We moved on Sunday to our final stop in Rio, The Baron Garden, an amazing guest house with a pool! The building itself it huge and has at least 3 live in staff as well as numerous rooms, and possibly even wings that we have not even explored. It is in Gloria and is about a five minute walk from Flamengo beach. We feel like we have started to get a pretty good feel for the areas in the city, and have become pros at using the metro (subway). Our favourite area is still Santa Teresa but everywhere we have been has lots to offer. We spent much of Monday and Tuesday trying to sort out numerous issues, such as the camera, getting some documents scanned and looking for a laundrette (didn’t find one after at least 2 hours of looking). We did go out for another meal on Tuesday night and realised that we had been missing the mark a bit with a lot of menus. We thought that the food was really expensive but what they actually do is put the price for 2 people down, and you then share a larger portion. It took 2 weeks for someone to explain that to us, Rio does not have the tourist mindset fixed firmly on yet, which is both good and bad. The World Cup and Olympics will change that quickly I reckon.
On Wednesday we did the last major landmark of Rio (apart from the Maracana, which is closed to the public for repairs :() Sugarloaf Mountain. Some pics will be up on flickr soon, but only from my (water damaged (bloody rain)) phone! We decided to walk up the first mountain and went up a steep trail that went through a jungle until you came out just next to the cable car station. Again, the views were amazing, but unfortunately it was quite cloudy and the visibility was nowhere near as good as from Corcovado Mountain. We didn’t bother going right up to the top mountain both due to the clouds and my unwillingness to go any higher than I needed to. The views from Morro de Açúcar were good enough, a relatively expensive 2 minute cable car journey up to Pão de Açúcar on a cloudy (and slightly windy!) day was not something I was in a hurry to do! We walked back down as well and returned back to our hostel where we have failed to do any preparation for our next move. The bus will be picking us up in around 9 hours and needless to say we are not packed or even remotely organised. I should probably stop here and get some sleep.
All in all, Rio has been amazing. It has been everything we expected and a lot more. If you can get here over the next couple of years I highly recommend that you do it. The World Cup and Olympics are starting to make their mark already and I think that to really get a sense of the Carioca lifestyle you need to get here soon before it is touristified (its clearly getting late, I’m making up words).
On a football related note, I secured both Eilidh and I tickets for the Copa America final! I’m extremely excited, Eilidh less so.
Peace and love,