After the longest flight of my life we arrived hot, sweaty and tired into Rio De Janeiro International Airport at 11 pm. Going through customs was possibly one of the most exciting and intimidating moments of my trip. BRAZIL. We were finally here after months and months of planning, organising, trips to the travel agents and discussions with worried parents. You see it was my first time travelling without my parents and naturally they were very worried, as was I.
So getting through customs we had pre-booked a shuttle to the hostel just to make things a bit easier with the language barrier, and it was also safer since it was close to midnight when we got to the pick-up area of the airport. However, this did not go so smoothly. On the way to the hostel, whilst on the motorway, the car blew a tire. Baring in the mind the motorway had no hard shoulder, the driver casually strolled out into the middle of the road and beckoned to us to come and help him, so reluctantly we did. Still sweating in the smouldering heat of Rio’s night, there we were, the three of us (I was travelling with my boyfriend of the time) in the middle of the motorway, changing car tires.
Finally we arrived at our home for the next few days, Books Hostel, Lapa, Rio, and all we wanted to do was crash into a bed and sleep forever. NOT THE CASE. The minute we walked in a group of friendly Aussies grabbed our bags off our backs and said, “come on, we’re going out!” So we quickly checked in, got changed and headed on out.
Rio, oh Rio how we instantly fell in love with you. Your vibe… Your people… Your life. I don’t think I have ever been in a city which is so full of life, and I have been to a lot of cities! Rio is a place where anything goes and dreams are made. Dancing in the streets with the locals, sipping caipirinhas with other travellers and just watching life go by in the most staggering array of colours and varieties was just perfect.
Waking up the next morning we went to inspect the hostel. The free breakfast was a great start to the morning and the hostel was just unbelievably cool. There was graffiti all over the walls and our room had a window overlooking the communal areas downstairs, so in the morning you could just wake up and watch the activity going on.
I can’t remember exactly what we did whilst we were there, especially since I decided it would be a really good idea to leave my camera behind when we left for our next destination, which I didn’t realise until 2 weeks later! (Anyone reading this who gained an Olympus camera in Books Hostel, I hope it served you well!)
Obviously we did the touristy things; Christ the Redeemer, the Lapa Steps, went to Niteroi to see Oscar Niemeyer’s M.A.C and took a Favela tour, all of which I highly recommend. All were equally amazing experiences but for me it was the Lapa Steps that stood out the most. It is probably one of the most extraordinary efforts by a single person I have ever witnessed. This street, the Steps, they are beautiful made of tiles of red, yellow, green and blue, as well as thousands of patterned tiles from all over the world, created by one man over his entire lifetime in Rio. The day we visited was an extremely emotional day, since the creator had died that morning. He had never stopped changing the patterns on the steps… he devoted his life to them. It is a truly remarkable thing to see and I urge anyone to go! Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to show you, but go and take the time to find a tile from your country of origin and I bet you you’ll find it!
My one regret from Rio (and this is a massive regret) is that we didn’t go to any of the beaches. I’ve been told that in comparison to other beaches in Brazil, Rio’s beaches aren’t that good, but the experience of being in a beach in the middle of a city like Rio would just be insane. This is a definite must for when I return!
Four days in Rio were simply not enough! If you’re going to go I urge you to stay for as long as possible. Party hard and enjoy everything that this magical city has to offer.
A big thanks to Kitty Bartlett for this piece on Rio. The vibrant lifestyle and mid-city beaches sounds like the perfect holiday destination!