Merry Christmas to all my friends! Here is my last blog post for this year. The last days in Brazil went by far too quickly. On the other hand I probably needed a break from travelling, because the only time I really got excited in Rio was in the van to see Cristo Redentor on the hill Corcovado. I think I was more excited to spend the last two days in São Paulo with my friends Fernando and Tânia and their families. The secret Santa party with them was a bit different from a European style pre-Christmas party 🙂
Rio in 7 days
Day 1 – empty Lapa on Monday
The transfer from the airport to my hostel in Ipanema took much longer than expected, it must have been between 2 and 3 hours… My room mate Dominica asked me if I wanted to come to Lapa, but contrary to all the other days it’s totally empty on Monday! Thankfully we still found a place to drink Caiprinha and meet up with Danish who I knew through couchsurfing.
Day 2 – Ipanema beach, fruit+veggie market on General Osório square, Cristo Redentor, Escadaria Selarón
One good thing about the hostel I stayed in was the location, the beach was only 3 blocks away, so I went there most mornings just because I could. Some mornings I was lucky and the waves were a bit lower. I still don’t like salty water and waves… However, to adapt to the local style I finally bought a Brazilian style bikini just to try it out. It’s nice to have less wet fabric on me I guess, but I’m more and more in favor of not having any wet fabric at all on me.
The fruit and vegetable on General Osório square was very close to my hostel and a great opportunity to get a stock of fresh fruit for the next few days. I didn’t know there were so many different kinds of mango.
In the afternoon I went up to Rio’s icon, the Christ figure up on the hill Corcovado. It’s pretty easy to get there, I took a van from the metro stop Largo do Machado, it’s about a 20 minutes drive. The views are great and it wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be.
Later I decided to climb up the Escadaria Selarón, another famous place in Rio, just because Danish lives up there in the neighbourhood Santa Teresa. The plan was to go see the view from Parque das Ruinas, however, it’s only open until 7pm, so I had to come back for that the next day.
Escadaria Selarón was created by the artist Jorge Selarón between 1990 and until his death in 2013, it expresses his love for Brazil. A pregnant woman is depicted many times on the stairs. The only information that the artist gave is that this is “due to a personal problem”…
Day 3 – free walking tour, Parque das Ruinas, sunset on Sugar Loaf
A great way to discover the center of Rio was a walking tour: http://www.freewalkertours.com/ I learned a lot about Rio’s history in an entertaining way and took loads of pictures.
I went up to Parque das Ruinas with friends I made on the walking tour. We took a taxi according to the tour guide’s recommendation and wanted to see a church first. It’s true that the walk is quite an exercise, but in my experience it’s not true that it’s unsafe, since I did it several times and a friend lives up there. I would have preferred the walk to the taxi driver who was totally clueless concerning the church we wanted to see up there and ignored me when I talked to him… That was the first time I had a problem with a taxi driver in Brazil, a pretty weird experience. But we got there in the end after shouting that we want to get off the taxi and luckily we also found the other part of the group again who had a similar taxi driver problem.
And since it’s nice to get great views I went up Sugar Loaf on time for sunset. Somebody had told me that the view from Sugar Loaf is almost the same as from Cristo, but I don’t think so, it’s a must see.
Day 4 – Museu da Arte Moderna, pub crawl in Lapa
The reason for the short opening hours of the Museum of modern (only 12 to 6pm) must be that the exhibition is not very big, just as I thought. It was worth the visit though.
In the evening I went for a pub crawl with the same people as on the walking tour the previous day (the same tour organizers as the free walking tour and friends I made on that tour). That night Lapa wasn’t empty luckily 🙂 I even got to dance some Forró again in the 3rd of the four bars we visited.
Day 5 – Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, sunset at the beach Itacoatiara in Niteroi
The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil had an exhibition about an old kids TV series “Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum” when I visited it. It was probably more exciting for people who knew the TV series, but it was for free and still quite interesting.
I wanted to see Niteroi the same day and took the boat quite late, around 4pm when a lot of people go home from work. The boat trip takes around 30 minutes and is supposed to offer great views, but I couldn’t get a seat at the window unfortunately. The bus to the beach Itiacoatiara took quite long because of rush hour, so that I got to the beach around 7pm just on time for the sunset. In the end I didn’t regret that I made the long trip there, the beach and the sunset were amazing. I treated myself with some Japanese food before taking the bus back…
I need to go back one day to see the Niemeyer park and the Museum of contemporary art. And that time I will take the direct bus back to Ipanema instead of changing between city busses, which takes a lot longer. I only had strength for a beer in the hostel that evening.
Day 6 – finding a doctor on a Saturday, inauguration of Museu da Amanhã
Lowered immune defenses due to antibiotics led to a lady’s problem that I didn’t want to drag out until next year. I was lucky to get an appointment the same morning in the Centro Médico Pastore (http://www.centromedicopastore.com.br/). I highly recommend it and it’s open on Saturday from 8am until 2pm. After some medication my problem is sorted just 4 days later.
A friend had told me about the inauguration of a new museum, the Museu da Amanhã (museum of tomorrow). I was lucky to be in Rio for the day when it opened to the public, since the entry was free. The line was quite long because of that, but the futuristic roof offered shade and I had an interesting chat with somebody waiting in line.
The museum doesn’t only look like a space ship taking off from the outside, the inside also gives the impression of a space ship. As I walked through the exhibition I understood why it took so long to get in – it takes a while to see everything. The exhibition shows different aspects of human life and asks questions about our future. The transformations that Rio’s urban landscape is undertaking right now are quite impressively depicted in a room with a movie projection. The back side of the museum that can be accessed freely give great views of the bridge to Niteroi.
Day 7 – lunch in Amarelinho
I almost had given up on meeting some friends I had made in Chapada Diamantina, but finally I managed to meet up with Carolina for lunch just before my flight took off. Contrary to what I had expected lunch in Amarelinho at the Cinêlandia metro stop is not expensive, the portion was rather for 4 than for 2 people and the food was really good. It’s also very close to the airport, so a good option for food just before a flight.
São Paulo with Fernando and Tânia
I’m more and more convinced that I’ll meet friends who I make on my way somewhere again. Fernando and Tânia took over my room for a year when I moved houses in Cork, but now they are back in Brazil. I was glad that we had some more time to see each other once more, because when I arrived in São Paulo in October we only had a few hours together to see the city.
This time I came right on time for a Secret Santa barbeque at Fernando’s place, which is not quite the same as any party around Christmas time I have seen in Europe. Music, singing, dancing, and of course loads of food 🙂
We took a train to the center to see the free exhibition “ComCiência” by Patricia Piccinini in Centro Cultural Banco de Brasil. The artist created very alive looking beings that look human and like animals or machines at the same time. The skin looks very realistic and I was wondering how long it must take to create only one of the exhibited items… Even if the creatures look quite ugly as such the artist creates the feeling of affection in the viewer by depicting them together with children and as emotional beings. There was a baby mutant that visitors can touch, so the exhibition creates an emotional link to the creatures. I was a bit disappointed though that all of them were of white skin colour and would have liked to understand if the artist had a specific reason for this.
The 22 degrees in São Paulo were a climate change I highly welcomed, but I was even already looking forward to some frostier temperatures. Rio just doesn’t cool down even at night! So here I am, it’s about 9 degrees in Bavaria. Merry Christmas!