Exciting first steps of awesome journey! - Rioooo
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The trip from Wellington to Rio de Janeiro didn't go totally as I planned with many delays and running from one place to another at the airports. After 22 hours of travelling I arrived in Rio. The first thing in my mind when seeing Rio from the plane window was: "This city has a huge electricity bill", haha.
When walking out from the airport I saw a sign with my name on it waiting for me. The hostel had a pickup service and I jumped to some random guy's car who took me to the hostel. On the way to the hostel I realized that all the stories about crazy traffic were definitely true. Even though we were driving 160km/h at times I got safely to the hostel. Maiju was already waiting for me at the door and it was awesome to see after six months. THE TRIP STARTS NOOOW!
What to say about Rio? Rio is great city full of life. First thing to do in Rio for us was to take a favela tour on Wednesday morning. Favelas are the slum areas in Brazil and in Rio 20% of the population lives in them. The tour started in Rochina, which is the biggest favela in Brazil. Our guide was telling us stories about favelas all the time and I have to admit to be surprised how much things have changed there during the last six months. Police has taken over the favelas and they say that people feel much better there now.
The funniest thing in favelas was the way of building houses. There is no sense in the way to build houses. They just put apartment on another, the roads are ridiculously small and even the doors are way too small for normal size people to enter. All this makes favelas really interesting places. In Rochina we were allowed to walk to some of the places and take lots of photos. We even found a fake McDonald's!
The other favela on the tour was called Vila Canoas, which was much smaller favela. Vila Canoas was totally different than Rochina in many senses. We visited a small school there that was built to keep the children away from the streets. After the visit at the school we walked through almost the whole favela and the structure of the place made even less sense than in Rochina. Lots of stairs everywhere and hard to fit to the streets.. The last place to visit was to a local bar in the favela and that was the place to drink the first Caipirinha of this trip. I guess the guide was not familiar with Finnish drinking culture, while she was so scared us to be totally drunk after sharing one drink.
In the afternoon we decided to walk around in the city and go to see the famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana. During the walk we didn't understand the distances, which was most because the endless talking. If you don't see each other in six months you have soooo much to say and you don't even understand that you have walked about 5 hours without any breaks. Fun!
The weather in Brazil has been amazing and the sun has been shining all the time. The temperature has been pleasant 32 degrees, woohoo! On the beaches it was easy to see that this is no travel season in Brazil. The beaches were surprisingly empty, but that was great for us. No need to be scared in big crowds.
On Wednesday it was time to go to see all the big sights in Rio. Jesus statue it is! Travelling there by bus was experience itself. Old grumpy grandpa stole our money! When we got to the foot of the mountain and out from the bus there were group of people hunting for tourists. Well, they found us. The offered us a bus service to the mountain and to the statue. After being suspicious for a while we got a good deal and in just one minute we were sitting in a minivan with bunch of Brazilians. The whole trip was lots of fun and we made friends with the locals with sign language - Portuguese is everything but easy! Christo Redeem was definitely worth visiting and the views were amazing. Even though we have been in Rio just a short time it was already easy to recognize places and different areas, yay!
This was not the only time with problems with the language. All the people are very understanding and we have learned a lot, maybe… Not many people speak English and not even Spanish, so we have been quite screwed haha. Can't wait to go to the Spanish speaking countries!
One big surprise in Rio was the difficulty to find food, I mean restaurants. There were absolutely no restaurants in Ipanema, except McDonald's and sandwich bars. At least we could not find them. On Wednesday evening we walked long way and the only place we could find was a pizza place. At the door we were trying to figure out what is the cost and how the whole thing works but that was not easy. People on the door just kept telling us one word and showing the price and we had absolutely no idea what that word is. We decided to go in anyway and soon we were upstairs totally confused and waiting to see what is happening. The waitress came to ask what we want to drink, but there were no menus or any word about the food. We even got the plates and still he didn't even mention the food. After waiting about 20 minutes he came with huge plate with three kinds of pizzas. We chose one slice and got it to our plate. Finally we started to understand that it was a pizza buffet, how cool. Before finishing the slice he already came with other plate and every time we had three options to choose from. For once I can tell that I ate FAST! We started to be absolutely full and there was more pizza coming all the time. We even took the money and were ready to pay, but then the pizza boy came with a new list and was asking what kind of dessert pizza we wanted. Full but not that full that we could say no to desserts. Chocolate, strawberries and much more, yum!
There is one more thing in Rio that has been in a big role, the ugly and annoying men. I am sure it is not only in Rio and not only in Brazil, but it is so weird when people stop their cars in the middle of the road, whistle, shout, come to shake hands and even hug randomly on the streets. Of course we take it as a compliment, but enough is enough.. We have learned lots of ways to run hide and ignore. Useful skills! We'll see will it get worse later, hopefully not. Luckily they only mean good and are not really trying anything. Everyone just keeps staring at us.
Oh well, time goes by and it is time to continue the trip. More about Brazil later - Next stop Sao Paulo!
Tchau mi amigos!
Looking for inspiration for your next trip?
Read much more about Rio de Janeiro on the KILROY travels website