Brazil - Rio de Janeiro
10.08.2010 - 10.15.2010 24 °C
We didn't expect our first problem to happen before we even started our journey... but after an uneventful trip from Greenford to Heathrow -thanks to Frank & Caro for hosting us for a few days and giving us a lift to the airport - the journey almost ended prematurely. We had the great idea of buying a cheap one way ticket and take it from there with our travel plans but the brazilian immigration office didn't see it that way and made us buy a return ticket to prove that we would eventually leave Brazil and return to lovely London. The cheapest fare being Sao Paulo - London for £800 each on Xmas eve. Ouch! We are £1600 poorer already but we should be able to get a refund and only loose the airport taxes. For now, we'll keep the flight just in case we have the same problem at other border crossings in the next 2 months. Hopefully we will be able to get the refund from Buenos Aires when we get there.
12 hours laters we are at last in Rio where the immigration officers have stamped our passports after hardly looking at them and without asking any questions about our travel plans! The taxi driver was waiting for us and took us to our hostel Harmonia in Ipanema, which is a nice suburb by the beach not far from Copacabana. In the dorm, we met our two young Swedish room mates Piers and Lars.
On the first day, we met our brazilian friend, Rafael, who gave us a lot of tips and things to do. Our first impression of Rio is somewhat altered by the few Caipirinhas that we drank, the overcast weather and the jet lag.
Of course, we saw the touristic places: Copacabana, Sugar Loaf mountain and Corcovado, the famous statue of the Christ overlooking Rio. We also liked the little trip to Santa Theresa in the very small street car. The night out at the Melt club in Leblon was interesting: Samba, free caipirinhas and techno music left our Swedish mate crawling back to the hostel, bare foot on the beach in the middle of night against all safety recommendations from the guide book. We however did not feel unsafe at any time while in Rio, which does not seem to be the no go area described in the news; except maybe in the favela Rochino where we were welcomed by a drug dealer riding a horse with guns hooked up to his belt (this was part of a tour in the slum www.bealocal.com, which we highly recommend).