WANDERLUST: RIO DE JANEIRO13:56:00
If the the nickname of the inhabitants for their own
city is La Cidade Maravilhosa (The
wonderful city) you know you found a special place. And really: I have never seen
such a beautiful and impressive city before. Colonial houses in
mountains covered in tropical rainforest, an incredible sea view, white
sand and favelas rolling down the hills like children´s toys. I really
fell in love with this city and still can´t believe I have been to this
places I have seen on photos for such a long time.
We had an absolute incredible stay in the beautiful Casa 579. It lays in the hills of Santa Teresa, a bit further away from the beaches and sights, but is so absolutely beautiful and the staff is so friendly, that you really do not care at all. All rooms are decorated with amazing detail and most have access to a balcony or terrace. Here is where the a bit remote location comes in handy, because you have an amazing view over Rio at all times, especially during the breakfast (it´s included!) with buns, fresh fruit and juice and sometimes a little monkey as your companion on the window sill. The hostel also has a gorgeous rooftop terrace from where you overlook the whole town. There are both dorms and private rooms and a common area where you can relax. This is actually one of the nicest hostels I have ever been to, a lot more relaxed and less party crazed than most hostels and therefore perfect for couples or to relax after travelling for a long time.
This was my first visit and I basically stuck to the normal tourism program: the Cristo on the Corcovado, the sugar cone and of course the Copacabana. The views from these sights are incredible and I´d suggest you all to do it. Rio is so huge, that unless you stay for an extended period of time you might not even get more done, if you also would like to have one or two beach days (which I highly recommend).
You can actually climb half the way up to the sugar cone and it´s just beautiful how you get from this urban city into a thick rainforest in seconds. There are cute little monkeys that are real models and while enjoying all this you also save half of the money for the cable car! A little tip: yeah this old stairs are the way up and no flipflops are not the ideal shoes (I´ve tested this). At sun down the view is even more beautiful.
Also reserve one afternoon for Santa Teresa, the beautiful artist neighbourhood and enjoy the countless graffitis and the beautiful view. On sundays you can buy nice and cheap souvenirs on the biggest hippie market in the world in Ipanema.
There are also some Favelas, the selfbuild slums along the steep hills of Rio, that are open for visitors. Most of these Favelas are controlled by a local police department, that definetely went in there with full force and violence, to "clean" the neighbourhood, so for me this is a very weird kind of tourism and should be tasted with a pinch of salt and a lot of criticism for the brazilian system before it´s done.
Try one of the fresh coconuts that are sold everywhere and cut open in front of your eyes, there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day. And of course drink as many Caipirinhas as possible! The national drink of brazil consisiting of lime, sugar and sugarcone liqour, is my absolute favourite cocktail, super delicious and also very dangerous.
But if you only pay 4 euros for two freshly mixed Caipirinhas on the Copacabana, the hangover is definetely worth it! However overall though Brazil is pretty expensive and I paid way more than I thought I would. Cheap and delicious: the little Pasteis and Salgados you can buy on every street corner. They are little deepfried pockets filled with a thousand different things. Also try the delicious sauces offered on the bar.
If you are in Rio during the weekend make a trip to Lapa, a neighbourhood that is famous for it´s nightlife, where you can dance on the streets to local samba rythms. There are loads of small bars with live Samba music and you can buy huge Caipirinhas on street stands. Watch out for your belongings, since there are a lot of pickpockts especially on the weekends, but the atmosphere is so special for Rio and so great so you really should not miss it.
Lots of hostels also offer Favela parties, where a bunch of white tourists pay a lot of mone to be driven into a favela, listen to local funk sounds and dance with the true inhabitants of Rio, who obviously see a very little percentage of the money. Not my kind of night out if you ask me.