Revelling In Rainy Rio.
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
402Trip End Dec 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
Rio hostel, in the steep bohemian hillside area of Rio De Janerio is all a hostel should be – quirky accommodation and friendly travellers . Within 5 minutes of arriving we had been invited to go out to eat with a Brazilian girl, Natalia, who wanted company to walk the kilometre or so up the street in the dark to the closest restaurants . As the three of us walked down the steep steps of the hostel, we met a Danish boy who asked if he could join us too. Natalie, who had been to the Santa Teresa part of Rio before led us all up the cobblestone street and found an authentic Brazilian restaurant and ordered that celebrated Brazilan cocktail ,the caipirinha, for us all. She then proceeded to translate the menu and chose dishes for us. Turns out Natalia is a chef and currently designs the layout of restaurant kitchens so she is passionate and knowledgeable about her country's food and was pleased to be able to educate us
All this however is in stark contrast to our feelings leading up to our arrival at the Rio hostel. In the previous blog we told how our 6 hour bus ride turned into 9 hours. On arrival at the Rio bus station it was already dark so we decided to book our next bus for the following Wednesday, while we were there, rather than go straight to our booked hostel . This proved really difficult with no English spoken in a huge bus station with different bus companies servicing different areas but was finally achieved. We then secured a cab and I showed the driver the hostel address I had written in big letters. All went well then our driver turned into the darkest cobblestone windy street and started to head uphill. Now I knew I had booked in the hilly "atmospheric" area of Santa Teresa but we weren’t quite prepared for the reality. The driver stalled the taxi and had trouble “hill starting” it again. Then he pulled up got out and took my piece of paper over to an old brown door, checked it again and motioned for us to get out. Then we saw the dodgy graffiti style sign “Rio Hostel” and an intercom. After announcing ourselves, the gate clicked open and we were faced with a dauntingly steep set of stairs which turned the corner to another set of dauntingly steep stairs to climb with all our travelling possessions
Finally we checked in at reception and were shown to our room and you guessed it, it was up another set of very steep stairs! So it was at this stage, tired, hungry and irritable from 9 hours of bussing it, dealing with taxis and bus tickets, and climbing endless stairs that I came down to ask reception where we could get dinner and consequently met Natalia.
The following day we had a similarly good experience. After a catch up morning of internet, washing clothes and trip planning, the weather was still looking very gloomy so we headed down the hostel stairs to go and find some lunch and do a bit of sightseeing on foot. A Brazilian boy who we had been talking to the night before was heading out the same time and asked if we wanted to join him. We ended up spending the afternoon together lunching, riding local buses and the historic tram streetcar called a bondinho . The drivers of the buses and the bondinhos are beyond crazy! The roads are cobblestone, steep and with sharp twists and turns and the drivers roar around with seemingly no regard for safety. The bondinos cost 60c a trip but if you hang off the side and risk life and limb the ride is free!
One interesting sight we saw was Rio’s most famous staircase, the Escadaria de Selaron
The next day we had booked an organized tour to see the icons of Rio and we were dismayed when by mid morning rain and fog had set in and looked like remaining all day. The tour was a disappointment all round but we did get to see Christ the Redeemer, and the view from Corcovado the mountain on which the iconic statue sits, in a brief moment when the rain eased. The tour took us to the famous Maracana football stadium, the place where carnivale is held, a cathedral and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema but all we could do was peer through the rain. Last item on our tour was to be the Sugarloaf Mountain where a huge cable car takes you to the top for a spectacular view of the Christ statue and Rio below. Given we could not even see the mountain we were to go up, we were given a rain check in the way of pre-purchased tickets we could come back again and use another day. The real highlight of the day was however meeting Peter and Karen from Brisbane who shared the tour with us. We had a great time being “back seat bogans” and learning about their travels.
Now it is off to Ilha Grande an island 3 hours south of Rio for 3 nights and hopefully some better weather!
Foot Note: Christ The Redeemer Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is now one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World Winners. Rio de Janeiro also featured in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die.