Down at the Copa, Copacabana

Trip Start Oct 02, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rio de Janeiro.......

We arrived into our hostel 'the Stone of a beach', on Tuesday night to be greeted by the Irish boys we spent Christmas with in Buenas Aires. They decided they would show us a 24 hour bar which was a local to them and would over the next couple of days be a local to us as most Irish lads would congregate there at the end of every night to discuss the nights activities. 

On Wednesday we decided to watch a game in the Maracana Stadium, a match between Flamengo and Olaria. The Maracana Stadium was once the largest stadium in the world, seating just over 200,000 spectators in the 1950 world cup final between Brazil and Uruguay. In 2000, the stadium hosted the first ever FIFA Club World Cup Final and will host the World Cup Final in 2014.
The game itself was a pretty exciting as it finished 3-3 with Adriano scoring the first for Flamengo. One thing we noticed about Brazilian football is they love to attack and the defense is shocking, however it made for a very exciting game to watch so we weren't complaining.

On Thursday we decided to take the 'City Tour' from our hostel. The first port of call was the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue on the top of the Corcovado mountain. We had all seen the statue many times in photos and movies but to see it in real life was something unbelievable. From the top we had an amazing 360 degree view over Rio, the Maracana stadium, Copacabana beach and the sugar loaf. Some of the other sights we saw that day were the Sambadrome (street in which the carnival is held), Maracana stadium, Candelaria Church and the Rocinha Favella. The tour came to an end at the famous Lapa steps. These steps were decorated by a traveling painter and sculptor from Chile called Selaron. His masterpiece is a tribute to Brazilian people and the country he fell in love with. The steps feature in Snoop Dogg & Pharell's video to 'Beautiful' and also U2's video of 'Walk on'.

On Friday we took a tour of the famous Rocinha Favela, the largest favela in the country with 50,000 to 250,000 residents. Basically a Favela is the Brazilian equivalent of a shanty town, which is run by drug lords. The Rociniha is run by a criminal group called the ADA, this group is famous for providing much needed resources such as day care facilities, medicine for the sick, money for the poor and free cable television. Most live without proper sewage and electricity but do not pay for the missing services as they tap into the public lines.  The ADA are fiercely intolerant of crime within the favelas themselves as this attracts police attention, because of this many of the favelas are a very safe places to live. Many of the murders happen when the police raid the favelas, innocent people get caught in the crossfire.
The houses are constructed without permission of the government, without ownership of the land and are built on the sides of the rocky Brazilian mountains that surround Rio city, so collapses are very common. (Something similar to Pa when he starts 'engineering')

The tour started with us jumping on the back of a motorcycle for a ride to the top of the favela where we would meet with the rest of the group. We flew up the zig-zag road, skipping past other vehicles while dodging some children along the way. The tour guide then took us down through the narrow alleys visiting the sights of Rocinha while explaining the history behind the Rochina Favela. Our guide had been working there for the last 3 years so as he led us single file though the alleyway, he greeted absolutely everyone giving thumbs up to the men and the women he met he complimented and hugged. On exiting the Favela, we noticed the watch out men holding armed ammunition, thankfully they didn't use them.
The tour gave us an excellent insider view of Brazil and was well worth it as we wouldn't have been able to enter the Favela without a guide. 

On Sunday we joined in on one of the warm up carnival parades which was great craic. Pa was yet again mistaken for a Brazilian and one of the lads with us suffered some racial abuse along the way, all good fun though.
That night, we went to a Favela funk party in Castelo Das Pedras. This is basically a party in the favela which is organized by the drug lords. A great night was had by all, however yet again there was some fighting in the bus on the way home. This time benitez was abusing and received a shoe in the head from the youngest of the Curran's and war broke out of the bus. Brian was thrown off the bus but walked back on 2 Min's later without a worry.

One evening Pa and Brian took the cable car up to the top of the Sugar Loaf to catch yet another sunset. The view from the Sugar Loaf was also pretty spectacular and offered an excellent view of the Christ statue.

Rio is undoubtedly THE most spectacularly beautiful city we have ever been to. The beaches, the landscape, the city, the climate, the people all combine to create a city that is unrivaled anywhere in the world ('in our opinion').

We left Rio for the Carnival in Salvador on Wednesday night.
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