04/07/17-07/07/17 Rio De JaneiroJuly 9, 2017 in Brazil
04/07/17-07/07/17 Rio De Janeiro
We flew from Iguazu to Rio de Janeiro. This was part of our trip we were both looking forward to, but also marks that our trip is coming to an end which we are both gutted about.
In Rio we stayed in guest house that was recommended to us by a friend of a friend. It is run by a brother and sister from Canada. We are glad it was recommended to us, as was a bit away from the typical tourist locations in Rio and so we would never have found it! Although it wasn't central, it was really easy to get Uber's and they were incredibly cheap. The owners were so lovely and friendly and gave good advice on how to fill our time in Rio. Plus the view from their veranda was insane! You could see all over Rio. It was called Casa Dois Irmaos and we would thoroughly recommend it if anyone goes to Rio.
We had two full days to fill, and we really did fill them! On our first morning we did a lot of walking. We visited the Botanical Gardens and the Parque Lage which were very pleasant.
We then went to visit Rio's famous beaches. Starting by walking along Ipanema Beach and going up to Copacabana. We were pleasantly surprised by the beaches, which despite being city city beaches, were very clean. Even for a Tuesday afternoon in "winter" they were busy and lively.
In the afternoon we decided to climb the Sugarloaf, one of the mountains in Rio that offers great views of the city. We could have taken the cable car, but decided to go an alternative route and climb.
Our guide spoke limited English, and told us it would be mainly hiking, with 15m of climbing. We think that his meaning of "hike" was different to ours, it was more of a scramble and the majority of it was so steep we crawled up on our hands and knees. It was hard work but great fun! And so nice not being surrounded by other tourists.
At the top, there was a bar (yay!) so we stayed to watch sun set over Rio with some cocktails, which were lovely. We got the cable car down though!
The following day we started by visiting a favela. These are the "slums" in Brazil, where the poorer population live. There are lots of bad associations with favelas and the people from favelas, predominantly as many are run by drug traffickers and invoke large amounts of crime. Since the take over by Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) they have become overall safer to live in. There are lots of very strict rules and regulations in the favelas, including that anyone caught stealing gets their hand cut off, which actually made it safer than some other places in Rio.
We visited Rocinha, which is the largest favela in Rio, with 300,000 people living inside it. It is one of the safest favelas in Rio, with low crime rates. We were shown around by a student who had grown up in Rocinha and still lived their now. She was very sweet and showed us all around, including her own home, which was really nice of her. It was actually quite nice inside. The tour company she works for is run by a half American- half Brazilian man, who was born in the favela and returned to the favela 20 years ago. He has been living there since. It was interesting to experience a different area of Rio and learn that all the prejudices associated with favelas was not accurate. In fact, people in favelas are treated very unfarely.
That afternoon we stopped by a cafe to have empanadas for lunch, we have had quite a lot of these throughout our time in both Brazil and Argentina. They are like pasties filled with a variety of fillings and a very common and popular snack/lunch out here. These particular empanadas were some of the best!
We then took the cog train up the mountain to see the Christ the Redeemer statue up close. Throughout Rio you can see it up on the mountain, however whenever we looked there was a cloud over it!
When we got to the top, we were surrounded by cloud, but you could still see see the statue pretty clearly.
It is one of the modern 7 wonders of the world, but we weren't overly impressed! But we couldn't come to Rio without seeing it.
Another thing we couldn't come to Rio without seeing was the Escadaria Selaron, the brightly coloured stairs created by a Chilean artist, Jorge Selaron. They are covered in lots of coloured tiles and are impressive. We visited en route to our evening activity - food tour.
We heard about the company "Eat Rio" from our guest house. It is run by a Brit called Tom who moved here 7 years ago after meeting his now wife travelling. His tour takes you to lots of traditional places, off the tourist track to sample lots of Brazilian food and drinks. Everyone we spoke to highly recommended it, but it was a full day so we didn't think we would be able to fit it in.
Tom emailed him in advance asking whether they offer an evening tour, and we were in luck! We were offered to be his guinea pigs in an evening tour that he hadn't yet trialled at 50%.
It was a lot of fun! There were 7 of us trying it out and he took us to some really interesting places, varying from street food to "high end", to try lots of Brazilian food and drink. We loved it, and Tom the tour guide was a great guy.
The tour ended in a samba club which was fun. We ended up being out for 8 hours, but time flew by!
On our last morning we thought we would say bye to Rio from the sky, by trying our hand at hang gliding. Initially, the instructor cancelled due to the wind, but it picked up for us which was great. We were able to see all over Rio. It was great fun.
Overall, we loved Rio, and definitely want to come back one day!Read more