Rio, Rio, Rio.
My transfer from Paraty took me directly to my hostel which helped as it was getting dark. Now, I’ve stayed in Rio twice during my trip. This was before and after going to Transcoso, Bahia.
Firstly, I really enjoyed staying at El Misti Hostel – it was really lively, the staff were great and they had a really good cocktail hour (buy one, get one free Caipirinha). The other good thing about El Misti is that if you go to any of the beaches Copacabana and Ipanema – they have a relationship with a cafe/shop where you can place your stuff in the lockers and swim without thinking your stuff will get nicked (robbed). Apparently, this is a frequent problem on these beaches so better to be safe than missing your stuff.
ADVICE – People have told me many things like: do not wear jewellery including costume jewelry as they will still rob it, take Ubers in the evening even if you’re a few mins walk away (as I’ve met many people who have been robbed) and don’t walk around with your phone in your head as you are setting yourself up as a target even if you have an old phone. If you need to look on your phone, go into a shop or mall to do so.
So as you can imagine, I am bloody scared of Rio before I even get there! But I thought I’ll just stay cautious and not wear jewellery but still have an awesome time.
During the week, the hostels do have club promoters that offer travellers and locals a good nightlife. There’s always something on the evening of Monday – Saturday. I suppose Sunday is a day of rest but at least it’s good to know that the parties are good fun even during the week.
Another reason why I might have not encountered any problems as I befriended a couple of Brazilian and Cariocas who were all giants, built and a laugh to be with. They could’ve picked a fight with anyone and still protected me – so I felt I was in good hands.
Things to do in Rio:
- Christ the Redeemer (or big Jesus) – one of the seven wonders of the world. I mean, this statue it BIG! The story behind this big fella is that at one point there was a struggle between Catholics and a spiritual religion; there was a lot of crime and the city felt that they needed to re enforce the faith (and that Jesus is watching you) so they built this enormous statue that looks out over Rio and faces the sea. No matter where you are in Rio, you can see this guy.
Tips on going up, try to get the first train or the second train up in the morning as it gets insanely busy! It was already busy when I was on the second train but eesh! It gets worse as there’s groups of people that arrive and becomes a massive nightmare.
If you arrive, there is a kiosk window where you can only pay cash however, if you go behind the Kiosk wall there it has a railtrack – you can buy your ticket by card. The ticket will have allocated time slots that they say you have to take BUT I’ve noticed that if you hover around the entrance of the line to get onto the train, because they get so many groups of people that they need extra people to fill up the remaining seats otherwise they won’ t let the train go so the staff will call on you to see if you are an solo or in a small group to board the train.
When you get up top, there are some amazing views of Rio, the beaches, the sea – it’s breathtaking.
When I arrived on the top, there was a legit priest doing a mass ceremony and it felt so incredible!
If you wanted to visit a little chapel, there is a small chapel on the back foot of Jesus.
This is definitely a must see in Rio and a Great Wonder of the World.
- Sugarloaf Mountain / Pao de Acuzar – From my morning visit to big Jesus then, I took an Uber to this place and luckily, I wasn’t busy. You have to use the self service kiosk to buy your ticket and then you get a cable car up. I was chilling in this place for the afternoon but it got super busy later on so if you want to enjoy views with no one in the pictures – the best time is during the week early afternoon.
There’s of course expensive food and drink, Havaiana shop and a helipad – yes a helipad so if you have a few grand to drop, you can take an hour flight and fly around Rio highlighting the key spots including this mountain and Christ the Redeemer.
I do not have a few grand to drop so I took a leisurely walk in the green area where you can see some monkeys and then took another cable car up to the other part of the mountain and enjoyed more views of Rio.
- Beaches! The two main beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema where you can chill, enjoy the waves, listen to music and eat. Unlucky for me, it was pouring rain, grey skies and super cold that I couldn’t even dip my feet in the water!! I asked some of the locals the difference between the beaches and they said Ipanema is more upmarket to Copacabana … I guess I will have to come back again to try these out myself.
- Favelas – for me, I’ve heard about favelas in TV programmes and movies but never actually knew what this meant. Now, as explained to me that they are the ‘shantytowns’ and there are favelas that even the locals won’t go to, it’s super dangerous.
People moved from the countryside to the city as there was economic growth. There were many that still had no place to live or a little money so they moved into the favelas.
Fun fact – the word ‘favela’ comes from the name of a tree in Bahia which has a reputation of irritating the skin after you’ve touched it. The soldiers that originally built the favelas were from Bahia and named the first favela after the tree – unknowingly that it would stick for years to come.
A lot of tourists go to Vidigal but I would speak to locals or people at your hostel to double check the safety of the favelas before going.
BUT there is one favela where you can go only during the day where it’s safe, take photos on the stairs – if you’re lucky, you might find a guy who will take a photo and do a tile out of it for you to bring off as a souvenir.
Next part is partying, if you are staying at hostels, they will tell you where the party is at that night as there seems to be a party nearly every SINGLE evening. There seems to be one club promoter that dominates the scene and they have ties with all the hostels to promote their club nights – I must say it was a great club night playing a range of music from R’n’B, chart music and Latin music… things may get crazy… but that is RIO.