Days 1 & 2: Rio de Janeiro, landfallAugust 14, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C
After a successful visit in August 2017, I am returning to Brazil almost exactly a year later. Last year although I flew in and out of Rio, most of the trip was spent in the north-eastern state of Bahia. This time I'll be in the south and centre of the country in the states of Rio, Goias and Mato Grosso, not forgetting the D.F. (Distrito Federal, where Brasilia is). I'll be seeing some little-known gold-rush towns in the interior and viewing some wildlife in the Mato Grosso with a friend who has already started travelling there. As for Rio---well, it's unique. Brazil takes up half the area of South America and despite various hiccups over the years, is the world's eighth largest economy. Ethnically it's a fascinating blend of people from all corners of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and very significantly, a large Afro-Brazilian population and a smattering of indigenous peoples as well.
It's a morning start from Heathrow. Not quite as early as last year when a 6 o'clock take-off meant a 4 a.m. check-in, hence a taxi along the dark, silent Great West Road. The flight passes without incident and despite a 2-hour delay, my driver is waiting at Rio international airport for the dark, not so silent streets of Rio to my lodging. This lies in a (what for Rio is quiet) cul de sac in the middle class quarter of Botafogo. I'm not too keen on places with jokey names but the Injoy Hostel does what it says: helpful, friendly staff and comfortable accommodation; the rooms are named after major cities and for this stay I am in the Belrim (sic). At this time of the year Rio's climate is temperate and air-conditioning redundant.
When a trip begins, the problems are usually technical. The reception offer to book onward transport at the desk but my credit card isn't working. I try to contact my bank on my phone but that isn't working either; I suspect that the phone number quoted on my card is obsolete. The guy on reception manages to get the bank on his phone and confirms that the card itself is valid but isn't accepted for on line Brazil payments. So I head off to the Rodoviaria (bus station) and sort it out there---in cash.
After all this, it's mid-afternoon and I take a preliminary walk to the beach at Botafogo, The water isn't suitable for swimming but people use the foreshore for exercising and there are some nice yachts in the bay. For evening it's time to unwind with an Antarctica beer---not the best for taste but it blows away any jetlag.Read more