Rio de Janeiro

Trip Start Feb 12, 2007
Trip End Aug 10, 2007

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, April 16, 2007

FROM Iguaçu, we took a 24 hour bus journey to Rio that took us out of the jungle, in and out of São Paulo, through some amazing coastal scenery and finally into the metropolis of Rio.
The city is stunning, developed around large rock formations and beaches with luxury high rise areas on the flat areas and the poorer favelas clinging precariously to the steep slopes all around the central areas.
The first thing we did after checking into our hostel was take the cable car up Pão do Azucar to get an overall view of the city.
From the top the view is breathtaking with the two bays of Copacabana and Botofogo as well as Corcovado mountain with the famous Cristo Redentor statue all visible.
The view in the opposite direction, away from the city, is also magnificent, with tropical islands all with varying degrees of development extending as far as the eye can see.

We spent the following day relaxing on the beach at Ipanema and having a caipirinha (the traditional local drink with cachaça rum, limes and lots of ice) at the famous ´Girl from Ipanema´ cafe.
We took an evening walk to watch the sunset from our hostel in Botofogo to nearby Urca, a neighbourhood in which it is safe to walk because there is a large military base there!
We also took the train up to the Cristo Redentor statue, to get a view over the city from a different angle.

The mountain is tall enough to be above the low clouds of the city, and the placement of the statue of Christ is very dramatic.
The view over the city from the top is also terrific, and you can really see how closely packed together the favelas and the popular tourist spots are.
One Sunday night, from around 3.30 am until sunrise, we were kept awake by a non-stop gun battle that was clearly happening in a nearby favela.
Looking out of the window of the hostel, bright flashes lit up the sky followed by loud explosions, presumably caused by grenades.
The hostel staff didn´t seem too concerned, becoming very excited and running outside to see if they could see a bit of the action!
Having planned to be in the city for just a week, an unfortunate event resulted in our stay being extended to a fortnight.
Swimming on Ipanema beach, John was messing about in the waves when he was rolled over in a big swell and landed in the shallow water, breaking his shoulder.
After struggling back to the hostel (Rio buses aren´t the smoothest mode of transport), we managed to find a private clinic that was open.
The doctor diagnosed him with a hairline fracture through the head of the humerus and advised him to keep the arm still for a month!
Luckily our hostel had rooms available, and so we took a week of rest, enjoying the beaches and the caipirihas while the arm recovered.
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