Rio de Janeiro – Week Two, Brazil

Day 8:

Into week two of our stay in Rio, and the weather obviously wanted to remind us of home. Today was the traditional English forecast of grey skies and rain, however we decided to go hiking anyway. The mountain was called Pico da Tijuca and was just over 1000m high. To get to the bottom of the mountain was a bit of a trek in itself; we had to get the metro to the end of the line, followed by a 40 minute bus. But we eventually made it, and were presented with a lovely waterfall at the bottom.

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(Alex could probably take a better picture – I’m not quite that skilled yet).

The hike up to the top was actually relatively easy, it only got steep towards the very end, which was nice as we could actually chat and enjoy the walk on the way up instead of struggling for breath.

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As the weather wasn’t great we didn’t really get any views from the mountain. It was literally white cloud everywhere.

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In the above picture you can just about make out one of the stadiums and a bit of the city. But not much else! Just before the top there was a flight of 127 stairs.

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It doesn’t show it in the picture but it was actually really steep up to the top. Just as we were getting there we started to feel drizzles of rain. But we made it!

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And we were even greeted by some wildlife…

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I have no idea what this thing is, but he was really cute and kept trying to steal everyone’s food. He must have realised the busy peak was a good feeding ground! By the time we started making our way back down, the light drizzle had turned into something more Brit-worthy, and it was a much darker trip down the mountain.

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We made our way back home pretty drenched, much to the delight of everyone stood on the bus with us, and it was safe to say our legs were pretty tired.

 

Day 9:

The plan for today was to do a Favela tour. We had been recommended a company by a  couple of English guys we met at the top of Pico da Tijuca, called “be a local”. They ran 3 hour tours for R$90 – which was pretty much all of our daily budget. But we both decided it was definitely a tour worth doing. We booked on to the 2pm slot that day.

The morning consisted of running some errands. I got my washing done for the hefty price of R$30. I will definitely be considering doing a lot of my own washing in future :(. I think the price was made worse by the fact I had already spent R$90 on tour, so it was turning into quite an expensive day.

The favela we were going into was called Rocinha and it was the favela with the highest density population in the whole of South America. About 200,000 people lived there.

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We got dropped off by the minibus at the top of the road in the favela, and were able to see a view of the whole favela and the city.

Rocinha was officially “in police control” however it was well known that the gangs had taken back over. When we were walking through there were people with huge guns, but we were informed they wouldn’t disturb us – along as we didn’t take pictures! Here’s a few pictures of the favela that I could take.

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All through the favela there were little shops, barbers, tattoo parlours – everything you could imagine. We even stopped in a bakery along the way.

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There were also four schools/daycare centres within the favela, where volunteers teach the children for a few hours a day.

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It was a completely different side to Rio, and a world away from places like Copacabana and Ipanema. There were certain areas where the walls were covered in bullet holes from where gangs had fought the Special Forces (which is apparently the only time when the favelas are dangerous).

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I think if you are ever in Rio or South America, it is definitely worth doing a favela tour, just to see the difference of how such a big population of the country live.

Once we were back from the favela tour I got to pick up my washing (how exciting), we had dinner and headed down to Copacabana beach for some caiparinha’s. I had a watermelon one, which was actually quite nice… If not difficult to drink because of the chunks of watermelon in it!

 

Day 10:

This morning, the weather was supposed to be pretty rubbish so we had planned a planning morning, just to get a bit more idea of how much things were going to cost on our planned route. One thing in particular was the different prices of the same flight, depending on the day you look. Basically the other day we had found a flight to Iguaza falls that was £66 and when we looked today the exact same flight had gone up to £94. We’re hoping it falls back down before we book!

After spending all of the morning in the apartment researching a lot of our Brazil trip, we clocked that the weather actually wasn’t that bad at all, and decided to venture out to one of the Olympic parks. Today it was Barra.

Barra is going to be the main Olympic park as most sporting events are going to be taking place there – swimming, cycling,  weight lifting, boxing etc. However, if you are planning on going there from Copacabana, PLAN AHEAD. It took forever to get there and involved us asking a lot of different people how to. You can also imagine our disappointment when we got there and everything was barred off so you couldn’t even really look around 😦 However I did get a few pictures from the outside.

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Below is the aquatics centre

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The velodrome

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And one of the main stadiums

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It did all look really cool, and made me really excited for the upcoming Olympics… only 6 days to go!

 

Day 11:

You may notice my posts recently have been very Olympic themed. Well, I didn’t want to break the chain, so once again we had an Olympic venue on the cards for today. This time it was one we are actually going to during the Olympics, which was the lake that the rowing takes place. As the lake was a bit further away, and it was a nice day, we decided to hire some bikes.

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The whole way round the lake was about 12km, and most of it was fenced off in preparation for the  games. But I did manage to get a few snaps on the way round.

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About half way round we found an open spot so we decided to sit and have a watch. Quite a few of the Olympic rowers were out on the river, so it was really cool to watch them practicing – we even saw some starts.

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After we had finished cycling, we stopped for lunch and treated ourselves to a coconut by the beach, whilst watching some beach volleyball.

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Because it was so sunny we decided to try and catch the last couple of hours of sun on the beach, although by the time we got there we must have only caught about 30 mins before the sun dropped behind all the high-rise buildings. 😦

In the evening we headed out for some cocktails on the beach, where we listen to some live music. Annabel was just saying how at some point in Brazil we’re going to be dragged into doing some Samba, and literally 20 seconds later a group of Brazilian girls dragged us onto the dance floor to join in. It’s safe to say it was very awkward with lots of awful dancing from our end, but it was great fun.

 

Day 12:

The weather was once again brilliant, so today the plan was to do stand up paddle boarding. When we walked down to the beach the waves looked pretty choppy – and they were. More of that to come later.

Annabel had taught paddle boarding over the previous summer so she was in charge of helping me to get to grips with it. It was also the first time I got to use my GoPro properly which was really exciting. I started off slow, on my knees as there you have a bit more balance.

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You can just about see me in the background behind Annabel the pro. But I made it up to standing!

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Looking wobbly…

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Getting a little bit more confident and managing to stay stood up through some of the waves. And then…

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Where I spent a lot of the hour paddle boarding! I would just about get my confidence up and feel like I could do it, when a big wave would come and I’d go flying! Although, by the end I did manage to get the hang of it, and even felt confident enough to take on the responsibility of the GoPro.

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Enjoying a well deserved rest…

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Paddle boarding was so much fun, and I also managed to get a pretty good tan too! We spent the rest of the day on the beach, however we must have pretty bad luck when it comes to beach days as shortly after we got there the sun went behind clouds for pretty much the rest of the afternoon.

We ended the day watching Finding Dory.

 

Day 13:

We started the day with really high expectations. The weather was really nice, sunny and not cloudy, so we had chosen to climb Pedro do Telegrafo, which had really great views and an even better photo op (more of this later hopefully if we ever get to do it!).

However, google maps was telling us that by public transport, to get there it could take between 3-4 hours!! Google maps does over estimate the time sometimes as we have found in Rio, so we decided to give it a try anyway, and ask tourist information what the best way to get there was. Our high hopes for the day were quickly destroyed as we were told by several people that it was “too complicated to get there by public transport” and we should do something else instead. By the time we had come to this conclusion, we had wasted most of the morning, and now needed a new plan of action, which we mulled over while enjoying some tea and cake.

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Mine was so nice but sooooo sickly. In the end we decided to climb Pedra Bonita instead, as it was a lot closer and quite a short walk. Because we’d faffed around so much we ended up getting a taxi to the bottom so we could actually get on with the day.

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Pedra Bonita is also a popular place for people to go hand gliding off the side, which would be amazing, however it was quite out of our budget.

It might have been a cloudless day down on Copacabana, but it was a completely different story up Pedra Bonita. You couldn’t see a thing off the edges of the mountain and even on the way up the path itself was a bit cloudy too which gave it the feel of a horror movie.

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Creepy…

The walk was a lot shorter than we had anticipated and we managed to get to the top in about 20 minutes to see some spectacular views…

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Or not. It was pretty cool looking off of the edge though, it felt like there was nothing around at all.

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So all in all our walk was very short indeed with not much to look at… But at least we were doing some exercise. And we got to see this little guy on the way down.

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You can just about see him hiding in the trees!

We got back to Copacabana pretty early, so we ended up having our lunch on the beach, and doing a bit of pre-Olympic shopping (getting red, white and blue face paint).

For dinner we were both craving pizza, so we ended up going out for dinner to find some. It was R$30 for all you can eat pizza, so we decided how many slices of pizza we would each need to eat in order to make our money back – we decided on 8. By around slice 5 both of us were struggling, but we managed to power on until slice 7 when we gave up. Although, we were then offered dessert pudding, which obviously we accepted, so I finished on a grand total of 8 slices, whilst Annabel took the gold with 9.

 

Day 14:

So after almost 2 weeks in Rio, we were kind of running out of things left to do, so we had a very chilled day with a short trip to Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is this old town near Lapa, which is probably most famous for the Selaron Steps.

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They were created by artist Jorge Selaron.

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After we had seen our fill of the steps we headed out around the rest of Santa Teresa, and had a wander round. We found the Parque das Ruinos which was a huge house that had been rebuilt. It was the home of Laurinda Santos Lobo who invited artists, poets and other intellects to her house in the early 20th century. The views from the building were pretty impression.

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The whole town was really colourful and quirky with lots of artwork around.

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After exploring the town we headed back to the apartment, and were rejoined by Alicia after her week away.

 

Day 15:

Today was a very relaxed day – so I will keep it short and sweet. We actually spent most of the morning playing cards in the apartment, and finally headed out to the beach for some lunch, and to top up our tans. We had a bit of a shop around as well, in particular to get paintbrushes for our red, white and blue face paint in time for the Olympics tomorrow!

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