5 days in Rio De Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro was the first stop of our 6 months trip through South and Central America. You hear and read a lot of very controversy stories about Rio, especially about its safety. After all it was hard to imagine what the city will be really like and once I am here I suggest to come and see for yourself. 😉 From my point of view I am absolutely amazed by the city, it’s unique and controversial flair, the landscape and the people.
We stayed in a hostel in the heart of Ipanema, a very modern, hip and lively area which is amongst the safest, most famous and wealthiest spots of the city.
Hostel reco: Bonita Pousada Hostel: rooms are rather small, but the atmosphere is very relaxed with a nice bar that invites for spending a cosy afternoon as well as a laid-back (or party) evening with a local beer. The location is perfect in the middle of Ipanema with tons of shops, restaurants and bars just around the corner. The beach is only a 10 min walk away and the next metro and bus station only 5 min.
Following you find our activities, that fit easily in a 5 days stay without being in any rush:
DAY 1 – STROLL AROUND IPANEMA & COPACABANA
Our first day was rainy, with clouds and fog hiding the beauty of the city. We decided to take a walk from Ipanema to Copacabana (which was perfectly fine and safe) along the beach. We had a look at Copacabana Fort (a former military base) which left a rather depressing mood, but offered a great view to the Copacabana beach front. We had coffee at a nice place close to our hostel, which is famous for its handmade cakes and spend the rest of the rainy afternoon in the hostel bar.
Cafe reco (Ipanema): Gringo coffee is a very sweet place that offers breakfast all day as well as fruit juices and smoothies and delicious looking mains. Prices are rather mid-range.
In the evening we had a couple of beers in the bar around the corner, with local live music and finally we could feel that special mood of celebrating life at its best – in a way we Europeans can definitely learn a lot from the Brazilians.
DAY 2 – CHILL AT IPANEMA BEACH & SUGAR LOAF
Ipanema beach turned out to be a place I rather would have imagined Miami or L.A. to be like: tiny swim wear (on males and females), long sandy beach, promenade filled with sporty crowds, lots of skin, fun and happy mood everywhere. A perfect place for a slow start into the day.
We headed to the famous (and must-see) sugar loaf at 3 pm in order to have enough time to enjoy the stunning views and be there right in time before the scenic sunset.
There is a great and cheap bus connection (1EUR with line 581 from Ipanema) to the cable car, where you get the (20 EUR) ticket. A high price, which is worth the view. Just make sure to be on the top right in time for the sunset.
DAY 3 – FREE WALKER TOUR DOWNTOWN
A great and cheap way to experience the city is by joining one of the many free walker tours. We did the “Downtown” tour that took about 3 hours and was led by a lovely local guide. Besides the tour we got some insights into the life of a local and realised how much Rio is struggling with crime, unemployment and corruption.
The tour does not have a fixed price – you can tip as much as you want. Find all details on the offered tours here: http://www.freewalkertours.com/rio
All of the tours have their meeting point at common places, that can be reached via bus or metro. Both I can recommend as cheap and easy transportation (with the metro being much faster though).
DAY 4 – CHRIST, THE REDEEMER STATUE
The world famous Christ statue is a tourist must, even though if I’d have to choose between sugar loaf and the Christ, I’d definitely go for the sugar loaf. The view from the Christ statue is again breathtaking and when overlooking the city you almost forget the tourist crowds next to you. Almost.
There are several ways to get up there. The hiking route was not available any more (in Nov 2017) due to some safety issues in the prior months. So we had to take the Corcovado train, which was fun too. The ticket costs 16 EUR per person and we again took the bus to get there. (Line 583 or 584 from Ipanema – 1 hour drive one way), 1 EUR). Find more information on this homepage: www.tremdocorcovado.rio
DAY 5 – SUNRISE HIKE
IFor our last day we booked a guided sunrise tour, which was supposed to bring us on top of Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers mountain) via crossing 2 of Rio’s largest and well known favelas, Rohcina and Vidigal. Since an unguided trip through the favelas is not recommended, we thought it is worth the price (20 EUR per person) to have a guide walk us through. As we started the tour we were told that it is too dangerous though due to an ongoing violent dispute between the two major criminal institutions, that are running Rio’s favelas. Instead we were taken on top of Pedra Bonita, which was a great sunrise too, but crowded with all other hiking operators (they all had to find a new spot) and locals (it was national holiday). The hike took only 30 minutes up a forest, which we could have easily done ourselves. So it was a bit of waste of money. My recommendation: when the “Two brothers” and favelas are safely accessible again do that, otherwise you can hike up Pedra Bonita yourself to enjoy a scenic sunrise.
This is a good homepage for more information: http://rioforyou.com/hiking-rio-de-janeiro/dois-irmaos-hike/
All in all, Rio is definitely worth a visit. The city has so much to offer and would have amazing potential for being a lifeable city. Unfortunately there seems to be hardly any perspective though with current political developments (at least this is what we heard from locals during our short stay). There seems to be no chance to end corruption, unemployment and crime, which is very sad though as the people who live here show so much joy, politeness, openness and willingness to work hard for a good living.
For everyone interested about the current situation in Rio’s favelas, why we could not do our planned hikes, and where this is all sadly leading to for Rio’s inhabitants, I can recommend reading this: https://theintercept.com/2017/09/25/rocinha-favela-rio-de-janeiro-violence/
Photo credits: Georg www.newsocialarchitecture.wordpress.com