A whirlwind first week.
Who would have thought that we would have been laying out our quick dry towels amongst the deck chairs and umbrellas on Copacabana Beach, soaking up the Portuguese lingo whilst enjoying a delicacy, the Caipirinha. Not me two years ago! Here we are, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We made it, and contrary to belief, in one piece. We have mastered the art of google translate. Don’t get me wrong its not like we are not learning the local language, but which do you learn? Portuguese or Spanish? I guess it depends on how long your going to be staying in Brazil as the other South American countries we are visiting all speak Spanish. So we went with the latter, Spanish. Assuming that if the Brazilians don’t speak English then they probably speak Spanish (It’s close enough – not to add to insult).
Our first hurdle we were faced with occurred at the Airport having just stepped off the plane. It’s like a sea of canaries (taxi drivers dressed in yellow), all bargaining for your custom, informing you that taking the local bus and metro is so expensive and out of the way that we might as well jump in a taxi. Our answer to that was no. For those savvy travellers (we try to start as we mean to go on) it’s not!
1) Locate ticket booth (which is supposed to be in the arrival hall according to other websites, anyone want to tell us where it is??) BRT buses
2) Cant find ticket booth, head outside to BRT bus area, locate nice man (just kidding) sitting next to pay machine for your Rio card
3) Point to where on the map you want to go and look clueless
4) Wait till the queue builds and nice man is forced to help you out
5) After two card declines, one incorrect cash payment later, one Rio card issued SUCCESS- We were told R15 would get us both to Botafogo, which true to his word, it did!
6) One ticket man happy to see us leave
First things first.
Definition of gringo – myself and Mike. Basically a foreigner who does not bare any physical traits to the country they are visiting. This is how we were described once we had become acquainted with the long term hostel lodger. So the aim of this week was to build our tans and try and attempt to fit in with the South Americans.
Where to stay??
We booked our stay through the Hostel World app, we stayed at Bota Hostel. The hostel is located in Botafogo, which is located about 20min walk from the beach and 10 min Metro to Centro. Being in Botafogo meant that the price of the hostel was cheaper and pretty much everywhere was accessible if you wished to walk. If you want the beach right on your door step your better off staying near Ipanema or Copacbana (the prices will rise).
- Copacabana beach 20min walk
- Sugarloaf Mountain 45min walk
- Ipanema beach 60 min walk
Beaches of Rio de Janeiro (that we have visited)
We haven’t taken many photos of the beaches we have visited because of the advice we received not to take valuables with you. In the city we have been careful with what we are carrying and have rarely taken our phones/cameras with us. However, we haven’t had or seen any trouble during our stay. The choice is yours!
Copacabana – World famous beach that stretches across Rio’s coastline which is home to many tourist catering cafes and bars. For a price you can rent deck chairs and umbrellas, however we are trying to save money, we ended up using our own towels as well as bringing packed lunches (photo above).
Ipanema – Supposedly the “rich” beach, with more tourists than locals spread along the bay. We watched as locals scavenged the shore line with their metal detectors looking for lost items our at sea. Sadly, we added to those lost items out at sea, R.I.P Mike’s sunglasses. The waves are mighty strong here and the currents are hard to manoeuvre so swimming is not for the faint hearted. Don’t expect to move much with the constant flow of drinks and food on offer at your doorstep.
Praia Vermelha – A small secluded beach at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain with a few vendors located along the walkway. If you want a more relaxing beach day without people trying to constantly sell you sunglasses/food/drink every few minutes, this is the place to be!
The famous staircase found between Lapa and Santa Teresa, you can reach here by metro or by foot if you are already in Centro. Jorge Selaron, an artist first began tiling the outside of his house with tiles that were coloured like the Brazilian flag. This then extended into a giant piece of artwork, his passion and soon to be his demise, unfortunately his famous work was also the location of where he died.
- Tourist hotspot (Most people are okay and let you take it in turns for that shot) You always get one who tries and jumps in
Feeling the heat and not wanting to trek through unknown town, we decided to get an Uber to Parque Lage. The park is based at the bottom of Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) and about a 45 minute walk from where we are staying in Botafogo. The park containing a mansion (you may have see photographs – pretty well known tourist spot) has huge grounds that contains many hidden cove and various trails. You could probably spend a couple of hours in the park and take a picnic along. In the mansion there is a café and also outside in the grounds their is various food stalls. The park is full of wildlife and many different plant species.
- If you wish for a nice photograph you better arrive early beat the tourists
- The park is full of people with their tripods and various photography equipment capturing pregnant mums, young toddlers and even anime!
Museum of Tomorrow
The museum is located at the pier side of Centro (Rio’s city centre) and can be accessed by the metro system. Its contents, a play on how tomorrow life will be. But when will tomorrow be? Does it mean literally ‘tomorrow’? Or does it represent how our world will be in years to come. I think the idea of the museum is to highlight how we live in the world today, how it effects the world tomorrow. Its explores our universe by using interactive models and questions life beyond earth.
There was an activity to work out your carbon footprint, mine was much lower than Mike’s, not sure how I worked that one out! Anyway, he pledges to lower his carbon footprint after being brainwashed by the massive televisions displaying the future of the world. We did a group quiz about reducing carbon emissions and to my surprise he did a lot better than me!
- Admission free on Tuesdays!
- Admission cost R20 each, they don’t allow rucksacks however you can store them for free but must carry your valuables
What is to come?
Christ the Redeemer