Our time in Rio was full of ups and downs. I'm not sure yet if I will write a Rio part 2 - post, one about tourists who were not happy at all but more like terrified and scared to death. And well ok, quite happy and relieved in the end. I think I will, when I'm ready. But this one is about us exploring Rio's famous touristic spots, going out a bit, and for most of the time, having fun and enjoying our time.
My arrival to Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana and our Airbnb apartment was memorable. In order to find my way to the apartment we had rented with my friend M (who was coming a bit later), I had contacted our host B, who told me to contact his friend B, who told me he would wait for me in the lobby when I arrive. Of course he didn't but a neighbour I bumped into was friendly enough to take me up to the 13th floor where our penthouse apartment apparently was. However, then he decided to disappear and leave me alone to figure out which door I would knock on. I was so tired after one more night with not enough sleep and yet another flight and taxi ride, that I got very confused when one of the doors opened and not one but three guys stared at me. I remember just being like "Hey I'm Emilia is this my apartment?". It was and one of them was this B I was supposed to meet, the two other guys turned out to be travellers from Florida, and our new neighbours, E and M, who had also just arrived. I had barely time to drop my things in our room when B said that he was going to show us the swimming pool area. I left with them to the rooftop (nice pool and great views!) and B entertained us with horror stories from Rio: Never go walking on the beach in the evening, one girl just got killed... Be prepared that when you are calmly enjoying your drink on a terrace someone may just stop by and shoot you (well we know that that can happen anywhere)... And so on. Welcome to Rio!
We left the rooftop and I thought we were going back to our apartment but the next thing I knew the boys were dragging me out from the building and saying that we were going for drinks. I tried to resist saying that I had left my money, phone and everything to my room and that I was wearing pyjama pants I had traveled in. B simply noted that at least I would not get robbed and so two minutes later I was sipping my first Caipirinha (the signature drink in Rio), in a cozy, very typical Rio-style corner bar. B, E and M kept buying more drinks and so I was sipping my second Caipirinha. But hey, when in Rio... It felt so unreal, the guys were fun to hang out with and I was thinking that wow, I really am in Rio de Janeiro, this is seriously cool. But at the same time I could not shake the thought of my mind that this city is dangerous and that something bad could happen any minute. Luckily nothing happened and when we finally came back home, I went to the rooftop and decided that I would not move before M arrives. I figured I had explored enough for one afternoon and that I deserved a nap. I was also thinking, when traveling I always book nice hotels/hostels/airbnbs but usually I am so busy running around in the place that I'm visiting that I don't have time to enjoy the accommodation. So now at least I spent some time at the pool. :)
Later that night M joined us and I was very happy to see her. She was too tired to go partying so I went out with the boys, to our Airbnb host B's bar, in a quartier called Lapa. When we were in a taxi approaching the area, I suddenly spotted the famous steps, Escadaria Selarón, I had read about. "These are the steps, stop!" I shouted, and we stopped for a picture and then walked to the bar.
Lapa was a street full of music and small casual bars. I liked the vibes, it was a little bit like in Jamaica, but somehow cooler. I have not had that much fun in a long time: chatting, dancing, drinking Caipirinhas, and meeting new people. Lapa seemed to me a safe area, I was with the boys, I had nothing valuable with me, and it was so much fun that I forgot to be scared. Of course B later reminded us that certainly someone got killed there that night as well. Again: Welcome to Rio.
The following days we went sightseeing with M. We spent some time at Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, went again to Escadaria Selarón steps, and took a train up to Mount Corcovado to see the Christ the Redeemer statue.
One evening we had dinner and drinks by the lake, Lagoa, on a cozy terrace called Phalapita (thanks H for the recommendation!). My Spanish friend M joined us and I later went for another drink with her in the Leblon area. It was so good to see you again M, enjoy your time in Brazil!
I remember that during my second year at Uni we did a group project on the topic "Inequalities in Brazil", or something like that. Now when I've been here I indeed understand better how it is in reality. In Brazil there are some very wealthy people and sumptuous places where you can spend loads of money and, if you wish, forget about the enormous part of the population that is very poor and lives in marginalised conditions. On Sunday when we thought with M that we had seen enough of the miserable and unsafe part of Rio (you can read more about that here), we treated ourselves with a brunch at the legendary Copacabana Palace. Initially we wanted to have just something small for lunch, but when we arrived we were told that they only served a brunch buffet. The place was gorgeous and we were seated on the terrace close to the swimming pool area. We didn't dare to ask about the price but when we realised that it was the biggest and most delicious brunch buffet we had ever seen, we got a bit worried. I swear, there was everything we could have imagined and more (for example different cheeses and charcuterie, raw and cooked vegetables, seafood including oysters and lobster, various warm dishes, million different desserts, a chocolate bar, juices and unlimited champagne). The service was exquisite, ambiance relaxing and food so good that we wished we could have eaten more or taken something with us. Brunch at Copacabana Palace (or staying there for a night or two if you can afford it) is really the one thing I recommend if you ever go to Rio. When it was time to pay we held our breath but it was fine, around 60 euros per person for all this. Still, I have to start saving money again when I'm back in Cartagena, Brazil has been a lot more expensive than what I thought!
Early this morning I went for a walk on the beach here in Copacabana. It was funny to see it so empty, although there were plenty of people running and exercising on the beachside boulevard. Now I understand why Brazilians are so fit..
My understanding of Portuguese is getting a lot better already. Since the Brazilians seem to prefere Spanish to English I keep speaking Spanish with an obrigada in the end, it works well.
Next up in the air again and Sao Paulo part 2 coming!
Read the next story here.
Oh and in the end I published the second part of the Rio-story, then one where unlucky tourists almost got killed in a favela. If you dare, you can read it here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!