Rio de Janeiro

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
New Ipanema hostel

Flag of Brazil  , Rio de Janeiro,
Friday, August 28, 2009

Arrived in Rio on yet another night bus, which was 2 hours early thanks to our bus driver kindly driving insanely on the bumpy windy roads (trying to use the bathroom on the bus is an experience i never want to repeat). 5am is not a good time to arrive in Rio, although we were lucky enough to be let into our hostel for a nap before a stroll along Ipanema beach.

We booked in a favela (slum) tour for the afternoon which turned out to be just the two of us with our own guide, Colin, a beefy guy with an American accent, a Ramones shirt and tattoos of naked ladies covering both arms. This was looking interesting already. A pretty eye opening experience - ruled by drug barons, the inhabitants of the favelas live better than we expected (they do have power, gas, sanitation, a somewhat intermittent water  supply and even cable tv). However, what they don't have access to is quality education, so university is far out of reach, making for a self perpetuating cycle. We ended the tour with a race on the back of motorcycle taxis, tipped to be the highlight of the tour (but frankly, disappointingly slow after Cambodia).

We took the cog wheel train up to the statue of Christ the redeemer, on a hill top 700m above the city. As we arrived, we took in the breathtaking views of the city for about 1 second, before cloud rolled in completely obscuring everything. We couldn't even see the top of the statue when we were standing right in front of it. We now have a lot of lovely grey photos of cloud, and absolutely none of the city, maybe time to do some photo-shopping.
Luckily the day improved in the evening when we headed to Maracana stadium to catch a local soccer game : Flamengo vs Fluminense. One guidebook recommends avoiding these matches as the Fla - Flu rivalry is intense and our lonely planet guide warns to watch out for dead chickens being thrown from above. So we were all geared up for some excitement! Flamengo, as one of the top teams, is the best supported in Rio - as players came on to the field, flags waved, lights sparkled on, and a band started up. As poor Fluminense came on, a couple of flags feebly waved, and one solitary light sparkled. The 100 odd group of gringos we were with all cowardly supported the favorites (or maybe they had just realized that we were sitting in that section, and had also read the part about dead chickens). So we cheered for the underdogs, and after a brutal game (we lost count of the number of times that the stretcher cart was driven on to the field) we had successfully and single handedly cheered them to a tie. better than nothing i suppose.

The following day, a trip in the cable car up sugarloaf mountain, 400m above the city, provided us with miraculously cloud-free views of the city. We may not have any photos from Christ the redeemer, but i think we have nearly a whole memory card full from here.

Our last day in Rio has been (finally!) perfect weather for people watching on the beach. A day of infinitely difficult decisions - to drink beer, caipirinhas or fresh coconut while sitting on the beach? Tomorrow we head on to Ilha Grande, for more lazing on the beach , hopefully complete with drink in hand.

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ronmarg on

Message from mummy
I enjoyed reading this, especially the bit about the motorcycle racing.

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