- Population: 6.7m
- Area: 1,221km2
- Elevation: 0-1,020m
- Co-ordinates: 22o54’30’’S 43o11’47’’W
- Average temperature: 25C
Sun, Sea & Samba
Well, not quite. After months of anticipation it seems that the universe had different ideas for the start of our trip.
Firstly, the weather was unseasonably cloudy and wet for almost our entire stay. This was a common annoyance with the other hostel-goers as it made beach days and other activities difficult.
To top that off, we both got ill in the first week, meaning lots of medication and early nights for the entire stay in Rio. Not surprising probably, given the amount of things going on for us over the past couple of months – we had to let go at some point. So no Samba for us. We didn’t even explore the bar/ party scene at all (pause for looks of shock amongst anyone who knows us)!
All was not completely lost…
We did still explore some of Rio; the Big Dude city tour, some days walking Ipanema, Copacabana and other neighborhoods. We managed to get a couple of beach days in when the sun briefly broke through; in particular enjoying people watching (from the muscle guys working out at the beach gym, to those perfecting their beach selfies to the multitude of vendors working hard to earn a living, and everyone else in between). More importantly we spent some great relaxed nights in the hostel meeting some great people (Veselin from Copenhagen, Dylan from London, Sergio from Santiago), adjusting to our nomadic life for the coming year and sinking a few of their homemade caipirinhas (which blew your head off).
So, what did we think of Rio? We found it to be kind of a tale of two cities, with a tension you can feel present.
One city is this lively, beautiful place where we felt a great energy:
- Super friendly people, although the lack of understanding Portuguese was often a barrier.
- Great food. Our favorite place was Garoua de Ipanema where we had picanha Brasileira – a pan of sirloin steak brought sizzling to our table.
- Mesmerizing mountainscapes – Dos Hermanos, Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain to name a few.
- Some beautiful neighborhoods to wander round – our favorite being Santa Theresa which had a welcoming and open bohemian feel (Bar Do Mineiro was a favorite).
- Loads of activities to take part in – most notably, hang gliding over the city, although Jeroen chickened out!)
The other city is one of extreme inequality and poverty, where you feel danger could lurk around the corner; particularly if you venture into the favelas and some other areas of the city. The locals constantly reminded us of this. We took their advice and stayed clear of certain areas; residing predominantly in the Ipanema and Copacabana areas. It was a shame not to be able to explore more freely. In the end, even in those areas you needed to be aware of your surroundings (Carl was subject to a shoe cleaning scam involving faeces… we won’t say any more on this topic).
We are not sure we have really come to terms yet with this way of being (in particular for Carl). Maybe we never will, although we think it will not be the only place we come across where this is the case, so we probably need to get used to it.
That said, we did love Rio for all it’s good parts and may look at spending a few more days there later in the trip. Maybe once we have adjusted a bit more (and with a full recovery and better weather) we can appreciate more of the great things it has to experience.
Carl & Jeroen
*Disclaimer: we assumed people would not want to see pictures of the crap weather, us being sick or Carl with poo on his shoes, so we left those out!
- Countries visited: 1
- Cities visited: 1
- Distance travelled: 9,588km
- Modes of transport: Plane (1)