Don't run at night in Rio

Trip Start Oct 28, 2009
Trip End Nov 20, 2009

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Where I stayed
Ipanema Beach Hotel

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Friday, October 30, 2009

Erica and I made our way from the Rio airport by bus to our apartment in Ipanema. It was a long 1.5 hours, but it was a fantastic way to see quite a bit of Rio, and cheap, only 7 reias. (A tazi would have cost us 85 reias, about $40). We had booked an apartment on the website, and we arrived to a secure building a block from Ipanema Beach and two blocks from Copacabana Beach. The apartment is fine, a one bedroom for $70 a night for the two of us. At last, we were here!!

In spite of the rainy day we walked to Ipanema beach and had some lunch. The 42" tall waiter fell head over heels for Erica and got her e-mail and a photo. We were pretty disoriented after the 14 hours of flying, so we then went back home, took a nap and headed out for dinner at about 7pm. Everyone had repeatedly warned us about the dangers of robbery (and kidnapping!), so we left all watches, earrings, necklaces, purses and rings in the apartment and nervously walked along the beach to the restaurant we had picked, the Za Za Bistro. We stayed on the side of the street with the buildings and security guards, amazed by all the gates, police, cars with tinted windows and the general state of watchfulness.

The Za Za Bistro was perfect. We sat on the outdoor patio, which had colored lights and white painted metal work. The general decor was slightly Indian, and upstairs the room was filled with pillows for sitting on the floor. It wasn't cheap. Erica's delicious lamb and mushroom risotto was about $20, and my couscous was $17. We could see that we need to figure out the cheap eats pretty soon! But, for our first night, we were happy to sit on the terrace, watching the night happenings of Rio and quench our thirsty throats with cold beers.

After dinner we walked a block to the Vinicius Bar, a piano bar that has been around for a long time and was recommended to us by two people. We didn't go downstairs to the jazz club but instead sat in the regular bar on the street level. I had a Quarenta y Tres, which reminded me of Spain, and Erica ordered whiskey. As we were sitting enjoying the sounds and sultriness of the wet evening, suddenly I heard shouting. I saw two security guards chasing a man running with a backpack, their sub machine guns drawn and pointed. This is it!, I thought, imagining a spray of bullets, me grabbing Erica and throwing us both under the table. This is what everyone was talking about! But, after checking the man's backpack and establishing he was probably only running for the bus, the security men lowered their guns, patted him jovially on the back, and returned to their hidden posts. Moral of the story: don't wear a backpack and then go running at night in Rio! We downed our drinks and walked, very slowly, home.
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