Monday, 21 February 2011

Rio de Janeiro

We arrived in Rio after our first class ordeal excited to be in such an iconic city. The bus ride into the city was really interesting as we passed through the centre and Copacabana on our way to Ipanema Bonita Hostel.

Rio was damn hot! When we arrived in Ipanema we had to haul our bags three or four blocks up to the hostel in 35 degree heat from the beachfront– it was a schvitz-a-thon.

Ipanema has a cute, village-like feel, which reminded me a lot of Bondi. There are boutique shops, restaurants and juice stalls everywhere. We had our first meal at Koni Sushi on Russ’ recom. Not bad as we had been craving sushi for a few days.

That afternoon we plonkled our arses on some chairs at Posto 9 – the coolest part of Ipanema beach - and watched the amazing bodies and even more amazing bikinis and short shorts parade around us. We ordered some Caipirinhas which were phenomenal (and strong) and were buzzing after 30 minutes of being there.

Ipanema con caprianhas

Sunset, almost

The only sour note on an otherwise amazing afternoon was when we thought we were being thrifty by going to a restaurant in Ipanema and ordering a wrap to share. Halfway through we called for some French fries (as you do). When the bill came the frenchies were more than the wrap and possibly the most expensive chips I have ever eaten at R22 (about 14 AUD). Lesson learnt - never order without looking at the menu in Brazil!!

We went to see a Samba Class in the Rocinha favela on our first night with a bunch of people. The favela is meant to be the biggest in South America. The driver told us that the police are waiting to crackdown on the druglords in Rocinha last as they continue sweeping through the other favelas in Rio.

The samba school was amazing with a huge drum section banging out the beats, a few singers yelling out the melodies (which basically went “ROCINHAAAAAAAAAA” over and over again) and the amazing locals dancing their butts off and shaking them faster than I ever seen an arse move before. The energy was amazing and the dancing went from about 11pm and was still going strong when we left at 3am.

On our second day we changed hostels and moved into our first dorm of the trip at The Lighthouse Hostel. The room was OK, with nice people, but on the first night no-one figured to turn the aircon on, so we swelted away all night. Me and mish slept across the room from each other which was not ideal. We didn’t really like not having our own private space and looked forward to our private time a lot more.

We checked out Cristo Redentor on a Sunday which turned out to be a total debacle!!  We caught a bus at around 2.15pm after grabbing an Acai smoothie and hitting up the Ipanema Hippie Markets. We arrived at Cristo at around 3pm and were told the next train up was at 4.40pm. We decided to wait for the train and not go up in a van which was slightly more expensive (bad decision).

We went to line up at 4.20pm, only to find out that one of the carriages was not working so the 4.40 only ended up leaving at 5.45pm. We checked out Cristo (pretty cool) then had to wait in line for another 40 minutes to get down the hill because we weren’t “allowed” to negotiate a ride down in a van. By the time we got back to the hostel it was around 9pm.

The actual monument was pretty spectacular as I’m sure most people would attest. The panoramic view over Rio is sensational, and the iconic Cristo standing over was nothing short of ….. iconic. Rio truly is a spectacular city.

Copacabana left, Ipanema Right
We had dinner at Caratao (an all you can eat Charrasceria) thanks to the recommendation of Johnny and our hostel coordinator guy (Enrique). The meat was amazing and another awesome experience. Like everything in Rio though, it was damn expensive with the bill coming in at 150 Reais (90 AUD). But well worth it.

Salad bar, salad ++

Salad, the enemy of meat

Sneaky distractions

As we left the restaurant I noticed Mish was moving extremely slowly, and groaning for some reason. It soon became evident we had an emergency on our hands. Mish was in a Meat Coma. A Meat Coma is a medical condition, occurring after a mass consumption of meat. All vital organs appear to shutdown and the sufferer is unable to even communicate the simplest of words. Common treatment is immediate sleep and gallons of water. Mish will be spending more time at the salad bar at the next all you can eat.

Meat Coma
We spent a day checking out the central area of Rio. We caught the metro to Uruguiana and looked around the flea market. It was a massive area of markets reaching for miles and backing onto the CBD. It would have been around 40 degrees and the heat was stifling. The alley ways, central roads and cool architecture was reminiscent of Melbourne.

Cute bakeries

Jo, Mum - how much does he look like Grandad!?

Cathedral in the foreground
Instead of walking down to Lapa we caught the metro to avoid the heat. Lapa has been referred to as “the Montmarte of the tropics” and some of the buildings looked very Parisian. However, if you walk a little bit around the edges there is a grittiness to it with the very poor intermingling with the very wealthy. It is an interesting area and if we had more time I would have liked to come to some of the coolo bars or Samba clubs that litter the suburb.

The most famous attraction in Lapa is the Lapa steps, created by some Brazilian guy. I knew about these from Snoop Dogg’s video clip “Beautiful” but seeing them for real was really cool and interesting. The tiles on the steps are all colours of the Brazilian flag, while around the sides is tiles from all over the world. Really cool (despite the heat).

Straya tile

We sat down for a beer near the steps and Ronaldo was on TV announcing his retirement from football. Cool moment in time he was playing for Corinthians.

Ronaldo retiro

Rio final thoughts:
  • Energy;
  • Natural Beauty (surrounds and people);
  • Fitness;
  • General VIBE.

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