Rio de Janeiro - Favelas and Carnival
Trip Start Feb 06, 2010
29Trip End Aug 01, 2010
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I do want to address the security issue as practically everyone I had met before had words of caution about my personal safety in Rio. My two cents/pence worth is that Rio is no more dangerous or unsafe than any other major metropolis. You just have to use some common sense. If you want to visit Rio but put off by the security factor: DON'T BE. Millions of tourists come to Rio and for the vast majority, nothing happens. Like someone told me: you have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Its also interesting visiting a Portugese spéaking country
The weather is so HOT! Its gets pást 35 degrees during the day and only dips below 30 at night. It was a shock to the system coming straight from the harshest English winter in 70 years. Still I shouldn´t complain because I could be still stuck in England.
I also want to add that for anyone who´s been to Suva (in Fiji) that Rio especially the Centro (Downtown area) reminds me alot of Suva. That has to be a first - likening Suva to Rio. Think its the tropical vegetation, hilly streets, colonial architecture, chaotic streets. Interested to see if anyone thinks the same.
I spent the first two nights staying with a family (as their guest) in a favela (badly translated its the shanty towns/slums built on the steep hill sides). In reality, the favela I stayed in (Vila Canoas) is hardly a slum. Its has running water, electricty, and the family I stayed with had all the mod cons like TV, microwave, fridge, etc
Rio has some spectacular coastline and beaches and its no surprise that beaches play an important part in the lives of the locals (Cariocas). The local attire is boardies or speedos, flip flops and for the chics, bikini tops. Love the whole beach culture here. Ipanema is where people go to be seen and there was some serious perving...errr... admiration being done on my part. For the guys, yes there are a lot of stunning girls there. Everyone is tanned, toned and proud to show it off. I wish I had the balls to take some pictures.
My favourite beach was only 10mins down from the favela called Sao Conrado
I had some reservations about visiting Rio during Carnival as Im usually not one for crowds or ´touristy´ festivals or events. I didn´t go to the Sambadrome which is where they have the floats and parades that most people associate Carnival in Rio with, partly because it was really expensive and out of reach for the ordinary cariocas. Blocos/Bandas are local street parties is how most people express themselves during Carnival. Brazilians really know how to party. The atmosphere in these blocos was electric fuelled by the samba drums, and despite the big crowds and booze, still really friendly. Its so hard to describe the whole experience in words but partying during Carnival (in both Rio and Paraty) has been THE best parties I have experienced
The downside is the cost of travelling shoots up during Carnival so my hostel bed goes from R$40 to R$160 (£55) for a night (that´s in a 6 bed dorm). And you are sharing the space with a lot of tourists so its pretty packed in all the major sights. Im definitely blowing my budget in Rio but other countries should be cheaper to make up for it.
Caught a pretty wobbly tram (similar to those in Lisbon) to the bohemian district of Santa Theresa. Forget seatbelts, locals hang from the sides. The thrill of cheating death beats an amusement park ride any time.
Christ the Redeemer statue - pretty amazing views, but is it really one of the new Seven Wonders of the World!
(didnt go to the Sugar Loaf mountain)
Nightlife in Lapa district.
My trip has gotten off to an amazing start in Rio. The 4 days was hardly enough and I felt like I´ve only scratched the surface of Rio. I would have liked to stay a few more days. Oh well.... next stop Paraty which is a small coastal town 5 hours from Rio.