We are in Rio Baby!

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yes we are in Rio baby! The Iberia flight from Madrid was very boring. It was an old plane, one television screen down the front with three crappy movies. The hostesses served lunch then disappeared for the entire flight. Overall it was ten hours of our trip we'd love back.

Arriving in Rio we got the local bus into town and advised the driver we wanted to get off at Catete (pronounced Cat-ech). Well he decided to forget our request and drove us all the way to Copacabana Beach. We weren't too impressed having to work out where we were then walking with all our stuff through the unsafe streets of Rio to the nearest Metro station at around 11PM at night. Five stations back we got off at Catete and found a cheap hotel for the night.

The next day we had a lovely breakfast of delicious fresh tropical fruits then a quick call home to wish Megan's Mum and Rick's Brother a happy birthday. We then walked up to the cog train that makes its way to the top of Corcovado (also called the Hunchback. At the top is the statue Christ the Redeemer. The view of Rio was fantastic - we could see the city, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. We couldn't wait to get down there and relax on the white sand, but alas the jet lag and the fast Europe trip was catching up with us so we headed to a local restaurant. Now we'd heard these guys love their big meat dishes and it's not wrong. Ordering two dishes the waiter bought out about six plates. It was a huge meal that cost only about $10 AUD. After our massive and cheap meal we waddled back to the hotel for some sleep.

Another day in Rio, what to do? We caught the Metro down to Copacabana Beach and hit the sands. The water was cold, the sun hot and the sand warm. It was great to relax and enjoy the beach. You don't have to move from where you sit as so many people walk up the beach selling all kinds of food, kinck-knacks, sunburn cream, drinks etc. You name it someone is dong the hard work, trudging up the beach selling it. Megan went in for a swim, while Rick looked after our stuff. Rio isn't the safest city in the world and pickpockets love Copabana for some free stuff.

One of Rick's mates had recommended a tour of a fevala (thanks for the great idea Roman!), one of the shanty towns that dot the mountains of Rio. Getting picked up near the beach and after a misunderstanding about the price we were on our way. The air conditioned mini-bus we'd been sold on was a no show, instead we were in a little beat-up hatchback, heading into the slums of Rio. After the "discussion" on the price (we've learnt that in Rio the tourist prices are double, but can change on the spot from a previously agreed price - to be honest we're getting sick of being ripped off on our travels) the tour looked a bit dodgy. We're we going to be driven into the seedy parts of town and be mugged? Driving passed Ipanema beach we were dropped off at a local community centre and introduced to our guide, Marco. Marco had staggered English but guided us through the favela, showing us how a huge number of residence live in Rio.

It was amazing to see how people lived in what we'd consider shanty towns. It reminded us a lot of Varanasi in India, except here in Rio is was decidedly more dodgy. As we walked through the town Marco would say "no photo" in the parts run by drug gangs. He mentioned that cocaine was popular amongst the drug gangs. We visited a local school, art workshop and were invited inside a locals home. Overall it was a great tour and the money we paid went straight back to the community centre allowing more locals to be trained in English and the tourism industry.
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