After experiencing an amazing Carnaval where I had loads of fun and met some great people, it was sadly time to say goodbye to Olinda, and move on to Rio de Janeiro. Having a time constraint I was unable to slowly meander down the east coast of Brazil and soak in the sun, and instead opted for a flight straight to Rio from Recife. Having booked it in advance, it worked out to be pretty good deal.
Once in Rio, having just got a flight straight after a night out, I just jumped straight in a taxi and headed to downtown Lapa to my hostel. Bit of a dingy place but centrally located: close to the subway for access to the sights and the Lapa nightlife just around the corner.
Rather than rushing anything in the heat, decided to take my time about seeing the sights. I know most people would relish the opportunity to bathe on the Copacabana beach but with my wonderfully pale skin, I was quite happy to walk up and down through the surf, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a couple beers watching the day go by: volleyball tournaments, ripped up lads and bimbos strutting their stuff, people running up and down the beach (it’s too hot for that lark people) and attempting to ignore vendors selling caps and shades.
Christ the Redeemer being one of the new seven wonders of the world is without question one of the highlights of Rio, if not the centre piece of the city. With Christianity being the religion of choice, it is revered by all and a tourist hot spot to boot. The brain child of Heitor da Silva Costa, it was originally designed to have Christ holding a cross in one hand (to symbolise Christianity) and a globe in the other (to represent the world). Come Oct 12th 1931 when it was inaugurated, the design had slightly changed to what we have today, that of Christ in the position of a cross with the city of Rio itself representing the world.
Getting here is easy enough, there are buses from all over town to Cosme Velho, and if you say Corcovado to anyone they know what you are on about. (that's the name of the hill that it is on). Once at the bottom you can either get a shared bus ride to the top, or if you don’t mind waiting, there is the train to the top.
At the top there is minimal space to try and get that all important copy cat photo as the crowds are heaving and everyone is up there for the same thing, The panoramic views of Rio are incredible, there was a little haze up at the top so on an even clearer day the views would be even better.
Sugar Loaf mountain is another popular spot, again it is easy to get to and offers great views of the city, especially at sunset. At 396m it is significantly smaller than Corcovado which stands at 710m but you get better views of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. To get up to the top, you need to get the cable car which stops halfway on one mountain and then carries on up to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Around the Lapa area, you have to be a little careful as there are some dodgy characters about but by and large if you keep your wits about you, you’ll be okay. With it being Rio it is possible that you’ll bump into some trouble but if this were to happen I would consider myself unlucky, however it does happen.
Nearby to the hostel are the Lapa Arches, an old viaduct that the train up to Santa Teresa uses. Up here you are privy to one of Rio’s main tourist attractions, Escadaria Selarón. In 1990, a Chilean artist took it upon himself to decorate the steps with tiles from all around the world and after a 30 year period, he could well be still going. Looking up it looks great, however, looking down it just looks like a cobbled set of steps, looks like he has a little more work to do then.
Although I only had limited time, I was able to see most things I wanted, a derby football game happened to be on the day I left which was a shame though, guess I’ll just have to make sure I fit in a Boca game in Buenos Airies, but before then, my first stop in Argentina will be Puerto Iguazu, the jumping off point to see the mighty Iguazu Falls.