Beautiful, partying Rio
Trip Start Aug 12, 2011
22Trip End Jan 31, 2012
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by Pedro the chef. There was also a great crowd of people
staying there. Plus later in our stay they organized a trip to
a soccer match!!
Our first full day we walked the length of the Botafogo beach and into the Centro district. We spent most of the rest of the day wondering around, getting lost and acquainting ourselves with the city. When we got back to the hostel we drank our complimentary welcome caiparinhas while chatting to some cool French people. Mim certainly relished the chance to speak some French, and it beat trying to learn Portuguese in four days.
That night there was a street party in Lapa, an inner city suburb. This, we discovered, is a regular thing (most Friday nights say), but you've never seen anything quite like it. It extended for blocks and blocks centered around a replica white aqueduct so you could generally figure out where you were. Shop fronts that are just roller doors in the day open up to reveal vast quantities of spirits. Topless built Brazilian males wander about with trays of fluorescent shot glasses. Street drinking is either legal or so prevalent noone is going to change it. There are clubs, gay clubs, transvestite clubs, restaurants with men still in suits out after work at 3am and women just dancing in the street. There were random bands set up in the street and grandmas with the most ancient of eskys selling drinks and kebabs and god knows what else. One of the guys from the hostel watched a group of pickpockets at work. There was all kinds of people, not just the tourists out for a big night but beggars from the favelas, businessmen, hippies and Rastas, pretty much most of Rio's populace seemed like they were out in the street. In short, it was insane - and that is just a regular Friday night. Makes you realize what carnivale might be like!
There are two major lookouts from which you can appreciate why Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The first is sugarloaf rock, and the second is Christ the Redeemer.
Mim had been hanging out for some samba ever since the first night some of our hostel bunkmates had headed off to Democraticus. We tried to find our own way there to no avail, but we did find the Lapa street party again which seemed to be still going. After hailing a cab and were given the tourist shortcut to the club (it was just around the corner), we entered the samba dance hall Democraticus. There was a stiff door charge that saturday night, due to the band. The club was upstairs and once you got to the top of the stairs it had the feel of an old dance hall. We were ushered to one of the tables around the dance floor. Caipirinhas were soon in hand (sugar cane spirit just goes so well with lime and sugar). The club was quiet, so we sat for a while although it was hard to stay sitting down. The band had two clarinets, a few guitars and a banjo, a keyboard, a sax and they were almost all vocalists. There were probably more instruments, Buena Vista style, but the clarinets stole the show because you just wanted to dance. We realised we had been too early. The club filled up, and the band took a break. The bandmembers could dance almost as well as the club members on the floor, who were easy to pick because they commanded attention. They looked like they were born wearing cummerbunds and flowers in their hair. It was really quite intimidating, but we couldn't resist getting up and having a go when the band got back on stage. Mim managed to attract the attentions of one of the instructors for a dance, who gave her a few tips.
The breakfast was particularly fine the next morning. Pedro the chef was in a good mood, the hostel's resident hound had had his teeth cleaned with a toothbrush by the chef's wife and was now having a mid-morning siesta helpfully in the centre of the passageway. We were looking
forward to the soccer match - Flamengo vs. Fluminese. We left in a minivan with a group of us from various hostels. The thing is to get there several hours before, in order to a) have a few drinks and indulge in taunting the opposition and b) so you can physically get to the stadium through bad traffic. Not unlike Aussie rules really. Luckily we had a guide!! Not for explaining the rules, more for who the teams were and who was the shoe-in and who was the underdog