Beautiful people in the beautiful city

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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I finally got the the holy land of Rio de Janeiro and after getting ripped off for a taxi from the bus station with the two aussie guys (we had to pay $R35 (£11) when actually the price should be about R$20), we had a look at Mellow Yellow hostel where Dixie and Adam had a reservation.  There wasn't any room for me, but I already had a reservation at Che Lagarto in Ipanema so that was cool.  Mellow Yellow didn't look all that great anyway!

Got chatting to Roeland ( a dutch guy) in my room and he told me he was off the Lapa street party in the evening - I'd heard it was good, so though I would get involved! It was brilliant!  Thousands of people on the street, drinking, dancing to live Samba - a great atmosphere! Not a hint of trouble or anything like that.

Samba dancing at the Selgueiro!
  We stayed on the streets for a while and late went to Manifesta club, which was a bit of sweatbox, no investment in air-con here I can you!!  It's funny watching the Brazilian men in action - their techniques are quiet basic - just seem to be a case of bumping and grinding behind a girl and then trying to kiss them! I guess it must work in some cases, but those I saw weren't having much luck! It ended up as a pretty late night, think I got in just after 5.30am.  So I inevitably had a bit of a hangover the next day (the Brahma had taken its toll a bit) and slept in til about 1.30pm until the dutch girls Marthe and Jessica shouted at me to get up and come to the beach.  It did the trick, fresh air and a dip in the sea soon got me feeling more human again.
  Ipanema has a nice beach, it was fairly busy as it was the weekend, but still no problems finding our own piece of sand - very relaxing indeed!  As its winter, the sun goes down pretty early (behind the buildings by 4pm), so the suntan would need some more time later.

Saturday night was samba dancing night - we went to the Selgueiro school near the Maracana stadium - they won the award for 'best dance act' (sounds a bit like a Brit award doesn't it??!) at last years Carnaval, which is a prestigious honour.  so they are already in preparations for next year (its in February) and we got to see their new costumes and rehersals - they were superb!  Samba is a really fast dance (about the same speed as break-dancing in my opinion), so after a couple of minutes you are sweating your a*se off, but it is good fun.

I look a bit pasty next to Saloman!
  The locals love it when the gringos try and dance - they find it all very amusing!

Went to see the  hippy market in Ipanema on sunday - recommended for all those little hand-crafts that girls like.  Plenty of jewellry etc - even the blokes can buy their token bracelets which are all the rage with travellers.  Roeland bought a hammock as he's going home in a week or so - not sure how he's going to get past British Airways weight limits with it, maybe he will trying wearing it on the plan or something.  Good deal though, a quality hammock for R$45 (£15).  We took a look at Copacabana later on and yes, we were all singing the Barry Manilow classic hit when we got there - has to be done!  The beach has a better setting than Ipanema as it curves round and has the hills behind, but also has a lot more concrete, but I guess that is the postcard view of the most famous beach in the world.

  apparently Copacabana is not as safe as  Ipanema, but we didn't hang round to find out and got back to the hostel before it was dark.  A chilled out evening followed, withRoeland teaching us a dutch card game called 'Toepan' - bloody random, but a good game (I won't go into the rules here!).

Marthe and Jessica left early Monday morning (thanks for waking me up girls!) as they were heading down to Iguacu (doing two crazy 24 hour bus journeys in the space of 4 days....good luck with that).  I wanted to do the Favela tour, so booked myself on it in the afternoon.  We got taken to one of the poorest areas of Rio, called Rocinha.  Daniella our tour guide was excellent and gave us all the history about how the  'favelays' came about and the links with the drug trade - quite an eye-opener, but really interesting.

View over Rocinha favela
  Rocinha is on a hillside, so we got the local kids to take us to the top on motorbikes - christ those guys hoss it up there, I was grabbing the handle all the way!!  We walked back through the favela, seeing all the poverty - they live in constant dirt, rubbish everywhere, sewage running openly through the streets - not a great smell!  The houses are pretty random too, not too sure many would meet our building regulations back home!  I think collapses are quite common as they just keep building up and up as there's no land left.  Money from the tour goes directly back to the favela to help make improvements, so we went to a daycare centre for kids and it was good to see some of them getting a good upbringing.  Many will end up involved in the drug trade (not as users, but in production) - the 'man' who runs the Amigos-Dos-Amigos gang who control this favela, is only 23 years old - apparently that's quite old!!  The police go nowhere near the favelas as they just get picked off in the tight narrow streets.
  Only occasionally do Special Forces go in (like last week when then did a massive drugs bust which ended up with them lifting a ton of cocaine out by helicopter with a big net!!).  All in all it was a great experience and I learned a lot more here than I did going through La Boca in Buenos Aires.

Roeland, Roman and I decided to go on the 'city tour' as a way of doing the sights together as it can be quite time consuming doing them separately and I didn't have much time left.  It was a half day tour and we went up to Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer statue), which was pretty awesome- a massive 120m statue plonked on the top of a hill - a miracle Jesus would have been proud of!!  We had a quick look round the Maracana stadium and the place where Carnaval takes place and went to Downtown Rio.

Christo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer)
  The day was topped off with a visit to Sugar Loaf - we had to pay the cable car separately (a whopping R$50), but it was worth it - the views are just unreal, you can see the whole of Rio and the sunset colours were unbelievable.  In the evening a few of us got together for a few drinks - ended up playing the deadly Circle of Death and some Norwegian girls taught us the 'bus driver' game!  We were all on the frozen caiprinhas and needless to say it got a little messy!  A good way to see out my 5 days in Rio in style!

TRAVEL INFO

The Selgueiro school when organised through our hostel cost R$45, but the actual entrance fee that gets paid on the door is only R$10, and all you get extra is transport and a 'guide'.  If you can make your way there independently, that would be a lot cheaper.

Sunset from Sugar Loaf (Pao da Acucar)
  Its the most famous samba school in Rio, so everyone will know it.

Favela tour - with www.bealocal.com - cost R$65 through the hostel, same company used by all the hostels so is easy to arrange.

City tour - through hostel - cost R$60 (same company runs it as per Favela tour) - is decent value as getting to Christo Redentor and Sugar Loaf on your own can be a pain in the a*se.  Sugar Loaf cable car is extra (R$50).

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Samba dancing at the Selgueiro!
Samba dancing at the Selgueiro!
I look a bit pasty next to Saloman!
I look a bit pasty next to Saloman!
View over Rocinha favela
View over Rocinha favela
Christo Redentor (Christ The Redee…
Christo Redentor (Christ The Rede…
Sunset from Sugar Loaf (Pao da Acu…
Sunset from Sugar Loaf (Pao da Ac…
The kids were happy as larry!
The kids were happy as larry!
On Copacabana - Roman, Saloman, Ma…
On Copacabana - Roman, Saloman, M…
They love their beach football!
They love their beach football!
View from Christo Redentor
View from Christo Redentor
Norwegians girls playing Circle of…
Norwegians girls playing Circle o…
Me and Karo at the hostel
Me and Karo at the hostel
Rio de Janeiro Hostels review
Good atmosphere and right on the beach
Che Lagarto have some excellent deals on the website - in June, I managed to get 5 nights for US$50 (R$123), which was as cheap as anywhere I've staye… read entire review