Rockin´ in Rio

Trip Start Aug 03, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ah, Rio de Janiero. We have heard Rio described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its mountains, beaches and all, and we definitely enjoyed our time there but have to say it does not rank up there as one of our favorite cities. I think part of that was definitely influenced by the less than ideal weather conditions, but still it was just a good visit. There is also a lot of grafitti on many buildings around Rio (more on the outskirts) and that is just darn ugly.
We arrived to rain and left in rain with about 1 day of decent weather for us to actually see the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer from behind the cloud layer! That was a fun but expensive touristy visit to the top of the mountain from where the statue looms over Rio with its outstretched arms, and we definitely had a few laughs at the things tourists will do all for a picture! (Of course, we have done some pretty silly things as well so no pointing fingers here...)
Our first stop when arriving in Rio was to try to get a hostel in the beachside area of Ipanema (the beach from which the song comes from, "girl from Ipanema"). CRAZY prices did not make us to happy along with the pouring rain pelting down on us as we marched through the town covered in front and back by our backpacks, trying to find a hostel that was in the budget. Letīs just say that Ipanema is not quite the place for budget travelers wanting a private room. I am just not up for the dorm room experience unless it is the ONLY option. Our last attempt was at a hostel that charged $60 for a double room (two twin beds) without its own bathroom (meaning you have to share with many other people). Um, no thanks, not worth the money. We hopped a bus and headed north to Copacabana and fortunately were spotted by a friendly woman named Leodicia who offered us to stay in the extra room of her penthouse apartment for a bit less cash. It wasnīt a penthouse suite by any means but it had a private bathroom with the room and that was good enough for us.
We enjoyed visiting downtown Rio, wandering through the streets and seeing some wild architecture in a building that looked like a Rubik's cube and a cathedral that looks more like a modern pyramid. Inside is huge stained-glass windows going from the floor to the ceiling. Quite a unique place of worship. One of the best parts of that day, however, was nearly being extras in the filming of the upcoming Hulk 2 movie starring Edward Norton! We had taken a streetcar ride up to a small community called Santa Teresa that overlooks Rio and were on our way back, trying to find these famous stairs leading down from the monastery that are covered with mosaic tiles. We found them and on our way down were stopped by movie crew asking us to wait for the filming of the scene to finish before we made our way down the steps. Turns out as we were running down them trying to quickly get out of the way before the next filming, we ran right past Edward Norton! We didnīt seem him at the time because we were in a rush but when at the bottom we watched for a while and turns out they were filming him walk down the stairs. We stuck around and watched them film another scene that was not very exciting. Movies must take forever to film based on the pace of this one. What a small world and good timing though I must say! We asked if we could be extras in the film but our incredible acting skills were not needed. We found out that they are filming the movie in several countries and only a small part of it includes Rio. I think the movie is due out in June next year. I never saw the first Hulk movie but from what I hear, hopefully this one will be better...
Another super event in Rio that we got to be a part of was a concert for the Alma Surf Festival. It is a surf festival showing off the latest surf films and art from the surf culture and it just happened to be traveling through Brazil. We found out about the concert from a magazine James was reading at our friendīs house in Sao Paolo. We knew 2 of the 4 musicians (all Americans) playing in the show and that was enough for us to find our way there. It turns out that the other 2 bands were amazing as well so the concert was well worth the effort, dinero, and late night that it required! In case you are curious, the musicians were Donavon Frankenreiter, A.L.O. (Animal liberation Orchestra), G. Love, and Matt Costa. It was a great night and we were so surprised that so many of the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians knew the English words of the songs and sang along. Seems like many of the younger generation speaks English. We also got a kick out of a kid that was wearing a T-shirt that could have only been purchased in our home town of San Clemente. We asked him about it and he said he was there recently on vacation. It was a "Stop the Tollroads" shirt referring to the saving of the world-famous Trestles beach just south of San Clemente. He had no idea what it meant!
Due to the poor weather conditions, we didnīt get too much beach time in Rio. We walked along the beach one night, however, and saw kids at soccer practice! Apparently it is quite common for people to play beach soccer (with goalposts, jerseys and all) in Brazil. Love that! Must be quite a calf muscle workout running in sand...
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