29/03/2012 - 03/04/2012 28 °C
Our time in Salvador had made us a little apprehensive about Brazilian cities and with all the bad press Rio receives we arrived expecting much the same as we encountered in Salvador. We were pleasantly surprised.
Unlike Salvador there weren’t armed police on every corner and more importantly no obvious need for them. Admittedly our hotel was located in Copacabana, one of the safer neighbourhoods but nevertheless this was not the Rio I had been reading about.
The favelas were not nearly as imposing as expected and I was even a little disappointed that we didn’t stumble across one…I was keen to seek one out but Lach said I would have to take that mission alone! I have no doubt that there are many pockets of Rio that are still to be avoided at all costs but it certainly seems to have had a major clean up and as one taxi driver said “The city is unrecognizable from the one that existed 5 years ago”.
So, without the excitement of drug deals on every corner we had to find our own amusement, fortunately this isn’t too hard in Rio.
Our 5 days were spent exploring the various neighbourhoods…Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa and the bohemian Santa Teresa. We strolled along the beaches, bought artwork at the local Feira Hippie (Hippie market) and enjoyed a typical Brazilian Rodizio (all you can eat)…amazing food and great quality meat but I was just left frustrated that I couldn’t eat more of it. I guess Lach made up for me though!
We also fitted in the obligatory cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain for a stunning view of the city. Later that day we hit yet another of Rio’s neighbourhoods, Lapa, for the best of Rio’s nightlife. Any concerns we had that a night here would be a repeat of Buenos Aires (everything kicking off well past our bedtime) were soon quelled on seeing the queue at Rio Scenarium at 8pm stretching around the corner.
Rio Scenarium had been recommended to us as one of the best Samba clubs in Rio. It was a fun night with live music, tapas and Caipirinhas and the best thing is you can be tucked up in bed by 2am!
A helicopter ride over the city was next on the agenda – a Christmas gift from my parents and Fi. Unfortunately due to very persistent clouds sitting over the mountains and more specifically Cristo it was cancelled.
Rio is an exciting city with plenty to keep you entertained for longer than 5 days but our next stop, San Pedro de Atacama, is calling.
We will be back though…we have decided to return to Brazil for the final 10 days of our trip and hope to take the helicopter ride over Iguazu falls then as we missed out in Rio…can’t wait!