Jess, Courtney and I were in Rio de Janerio for 4 days over Easter. It was great to be united again, as I haven’t seen Jess since leaving Korea. Our activities were a great combination of exploring and relaxing on the beach with a caipirinaha in hand. The trip had a bit of a rough start when we arrived at our accomodation. So let’s start with that…
Staying in a Favela
Courtney and I arrived late at night and caught an uber to our accomodation. As we turned into the favela (a low income, informal urban area) Courtney and I started to tense up, being South Africans we tend to err on the side of caution. We managed to find our hostel and more importantly, Jess. The next day I became more relaxed with our surroundings and could seriously appreciate the view from the hostel. We decided half way through the trip, that actually we were doing a homestay, as the hostel was run by a friendly family that barely spoke English. On our last morning, we woke up to repeated large bang sounds. Jess and I tried to persaude ourselves that they weren’t gun shots but Courtney was convinced. We asked Max, the hostel owner what was going on and he explained (in broken English) that is was the police doing routine training with rubber bullets. So, we set off to the beach for the last time and as soon as we got out of our hostel we walked past 10 police officers all with big guns. We stopped in our tracks not knowing what to do, but a local man told us to walk and not to worry. We walked past and everyone seemed to be completely unphased. So after this experience, I don’t know if I would recommend staying in a favela. But, it certainly was a learning experience and that view…
Christ the Redeemer
We tried to make the most of Good Friday by going to visit one of Rio’s most famous sites. We caught a van from Copacabana beach to Christ the Redeemer, and we were really lucky with our timing and the weather. When we arrived we had blue sky’s and a perfect view. We went early to avoid the crowds, and even through there were still a lot of people there it was still worth the effort. We had fun taking in the views of the mountains, beaches, lakes, hotels and favelas.
Sugar Loaf Mountain
We decided to go up Sugar Loaf early in the morning to avoid the afternoon clouds. The views were breathe taking and it was great having a 360 degree panaramic view of the city. This was one of the more expensive tourist attractions that I have done in my life, but it was worth every cent and should not be missed if you visit Rio.
We spent Easter lying on this beach. It was packed with people swimming, sun tanning and hawkers but… Yes, there is a but… The hawkers were not a problem because they were selling delicious caipirinaha cocktails on the beach. Ice-cold, affordable and too small… This made the hawkers much appreciated as when ever we needed a refill we didn’t have to wait for to long. The waves were big and the water cool but manageable if you were brave enough to try. Jess- get yourself together! The beach was pristine, clean and lived up to all of the hype that surrounds the name of Copacabana beach.
Before arriving in Rio, we were advised to go and watch the sunset at Ipanema beach, so that’s exactly what we did. The beach itself was beautiful with a unique setting of city, beach and mountains all together. The sunset was incredible with vivid colors and a strange tradition of clapping when the sun disappeared.
Ididn’t know much about the neighbourhood known as Lapa before arriving in Rio, but quickly learnt that it was a ‘must-do’ with beautiful architecture and a great nightlife scene. We started off by walking up to Parque das Ruínas, a mansion that used to be used for intellectuals and artists to meet during the 1940’s. Now, it houses a small art gallery but more importantly it is a great spot to view the city. We also went to look at the Lapa stairs, Escadaria Selarón. These stairs were created by an artist from Chile, and houses tiles from over 60 different countries. The artist, Jorge Selarón said that the stairs symbolized his love for the people of Brazil. The stairs were all unique and had people selling artwork and jewelry on the side. A definate cultural expience one should engage in if ever in Rio.
Thanks to Jess’s instagraming capabilities, we found a park that looked beautiful with an old building that used to be called home by an industrialist and his wife in the 1920s. The park was filled with mothers-to-be having photo shoots, and a cafe.
Rio was the perfect place to be for Easter weekend. It was busy and relaxing at the same time, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.