When we arrived in Rio de Janeiro it was pouring down like nice tropical cyclone season in far North Queensland. we didn’t expect it, when you hear Rio you defiantly hear sunshine but unfortunately not for us. We couldn’t let this stop us exploring the city since we knew we now only had 3 full days instead of our original 5 due to transport. We attempted to wait for the rain to die off each morning but it was pointless so we just decided to go for it no point in letting rain spoil our short few days in Rio.
Living in a Favela
When booking the hostel Pousada Favelinha we were not sure what to expect but we thought it would be a good experience for us at a good price. We got a taxi to drop us off as close as they could and had a short walk(10 min) to get there although at the time in the rain and climbing uphill into the unknown it felt a bit longer. On our way some locals pointed out that we were on the right road as we were looking a tad lost. We arrived and the place was very clean had friendly staff that also spoke English which was a big help to us as we had been trying to practice Spanish and not even thought about Portuguese until arrived.
The view from the hostel was awesome looking over Rio including the sugarloaf mountain. We were told it has the best sunrise, unfortunately it was too wet and cloudy for us to view. This proved to be a perfect base for us as it was on a good bus route and was close enough to walk down to the metro for access to Copacabana etc. The hostel staff were able to arrange anything you needed regarding tours, transport etc.
The actual favela experience was awesome we got to share this world for our few days and could see the daily struggles the locals had to go through by carrying everything they had up the steep sided slopes. They also had to walk back to the main road with all trash which can prove to be a lot especially in a hostel, local shop or restaurant. There was nothing scary about this place as the locals would always greet you with a smile and a bom dia (good day). We managed to get ourselves lost on the way back to the hostel one day and the locals that we asked were more than happy to get us back on the right track. On the last night we were leaving at 9:30 on Friday which is party night. The hostel staff walked us up to the main road to get our taxi, we saw a few busy house party’s but were greeted with huge smiles and people waving to us and saying tchau (bye). We would highly recommend staying here and would love to come back another time!
Burger in the hood (better than 5 guys, as legend has it from a local review)
By the time we got to the our hostel we were pretty tired so had a chill and got organised to head out for something to eat. As it was getting late and we were still very tired after our bus journey the hostel staff suggested we have a hamburger from a local burger restaurant that served fresh burgers. We walked down some stairs searching for the food and found a spray painted hamburger on the wall of a house so knocked on the door. Some kids answered and noticed we were foreign so passed us their phone on google translate to ask what we wanted. It was really funny as we just typed in 2 hamburgers please although we could have easily said this in Portuguese and pointed at the hamburger picture if we got stuck but oh well they said the would deliver them to the hostel in 5 min. The burgers were pretty good although we’ve never actually had a 5 guys to compare haha!
Escadaria Selerón (Seleron steps)
These are world famous steps decorated in brightly coloured tiles that connect Lapa to Santa Theresa. The steps were old and run down before the restoration began in 1990 and lasted until 2013 when the artist Jorge Selerón ( the artist who created them) was found dead on the steps he spent his life decorating. On a positive note they are beautiful and were designed as a tribute to the Brazilian people. They are made up of more than 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. They played a role in Brazil achieving their 2016 Olympic bid as well as appearing in Snoop Dogg’s music video Beautiful. The steps attract thousands of visitors each day and are well worth a visit while in Rio.
This was the closest area to our favela. This had plenty of chic restaurants and bars which were pretty over priced and touristy. The streets here were long, winding and steep. We managed to get drenched wandering around for hours. From here there’s an awesome view of the city. You could also get a good view of the Christ statue although we only managed 1 short glimpse at night on our first night when he was lit up, the rest of the time was too cloudy. Its easy to get a bus up to the town or if you prefer a bit of exercise its a good walk (you may get lost) It’s a nice area to spend the day and it has some lovely viewpoints which are weather dependent. The locals say we were just very unlucky with the weather its not usually like that at this time of year.
This was short walk down the hill from our favela. It had a metro link that is useful to get around the city, we used it to get to Copacabana. There is many shopping centers, cafes, restaurants in the area and we tried some food at a Brazilian buffet it was amazing! At the plaza we watched some samba performers performing for a TV show/ news, we assumed it was practice for carnival.
Christ the redeemer
We walked to the square in Lapa to book our trip up by van to see the Christ statue but when we got there they said there was zero visibility. This was not what we were hoping for as we had left it till the last day on the hope of getting a good view. We decided to go for some lunch then try later on. We went back around 2 and it was looking a bit better although was still still really cloudy. We had to go for it as it was our last chance for a while. On the way up it kept on looking clearer all the way until we got there and the clouds just disappeared not for long but long enough to get some cool photos and admire the view from the top. The statue itself is very big when you get up close it was cool to see although was a struggle to get photos as you could hardly move for all of the tourists that had squeezed onto the platform surrounding it.
We couldn’t go to Rio and not make it to Copacabana beach. We were optimistic about the weather the rain had started to clear and we saw some blue sky. Unlucky for us as soon as we walked from the metro to the beach it started raining again. To our surprise the beach was still really busy loads of people in swimming. On a sunny day it must be crazy busy! We got drenched walking along the 4 km stretch of the beach and then decided we deserved to sample a caprhini. It was very strong think I would have preferred it with vodka. A man came round and offered us some freshly roasted cashew nuts they were delicious and perfect as we keep saying we need to eat more nuts. There was a cool market selling all of the usual touristy souvenirs, beach sculptures and lots of traders selling the usual bracelets, brollys and selfie sticks.
Brazilian people are so friendly even although our Portuguese was very poor. The locals would always help us out where the could. Next time we visit Brazil we will spend a bit more time in Rio and a lot more time travelling around hopefully at least travel fluent in Portuguese!