I am not giving Rio de Janeiro a fair chance and a fair treatment. There are really good things about Rio, but I suppose it is just not my cup of tea. First and foremost, all the warnings on the crime in Rio already put me on edge/alert mode. Though, thankfully nothing happened to us (which I believe was also because we had been warned and we were careful).
And at some point, I was feeling a little bit disappointed for not planning better. Boys and Girls, please book your Corcovado train in advance online (the train ticket will take you straight to the Jesus the Redeemer statue). It took us three tries to get up there. The first time, it was not our fault. We got there at 5PM (stated closing time 8PM), but due to the weather, they closed the attraction and stopped the train. The second time, we arrived late around 10.30am and at that point, the ticket on sale was for 13.20. We decided to do the minibus route, thinking it would save us time. Big mistake! The minibus is fast, but it only took you around the corner to buy a ticket. Then you wait in line for another minibus to take you up. This will take you up to the ticket booth to the Jesus the Redeemer. The line was about 30-45 minutes long at that point. Then we had to wait again for the shuttle to take us up to the Statue. You cannot start waiting unless you have a ticket. At this point, the wait was about 1km long. I did not even bother to find out the end of the line. I immediately told my companion to cut it out and just came back down. And it was hot! The guys selling water and umbrellas were definitely making a fortune. Luckily we came back down. At that point, the Corvocado train ticket was for 17.40. We decided to go for it.
And in between, we went to Aprazivel, a preciously located and romantic restaurant with a great view of Rio de Janeiro and a killer Caipirinha and delicious beer (exclusively brewed for the restaurant). The food was expensive and so-so.
After that we decided to rush to the Ipanema Beach to play around a bit. We could not go to Rio and not go to the Beach, couldn’t we??? Even though, it was not great . It was not good soft sand. The waves were not bad. We saw some cute girls in their tanga bikinis and fit dudes playing football. One enterprising ice cream seller decided to give my change in a second ice cream. Enterprising chap. I gave the ice cream to a little boy. We saw someone filming a music video clip. No idea who the girl was. Or I suppose she could be a nobody and they are filming an advertisement. We did not really have time for Copacabana beach and Leblon, but Ipanema was honestly enough.
After that we went back to the Corvocado. It turned out to be a grand plan (though it was almost upset by the tunnel traffic). And going up during the sunset/dusk is quite a precious experience.
Honestly, I only did it because I was already in Rio. I would not go to Rio just to see the Statue. It was constructed during modern times with modern technology. I do not see what is so marvelous about it to make it to the 7 wonders of the world. On the other hand, the grand ancient pyramids and temples are truly amazing, as they were created during the times where the machines were not available, and the human mind was forced to really use what nature had provided to help them. I recently read that the Egyptians wet the sand to be able to roll the large stones for the Pyramids. The answer was quite obvious and yet was only recently realized by the Egyptologists.
The other popular attraction, the Sugar Loaf mountain provides an almost 360 degree view of Rio de Janeiro.
We were thinking of doing the Favela tour, but I was told by a local Brazilian friend that favelas are dangerous, and in recent months, there have been conflicts between the narcos and the Police and there have been unintended victims. And each incident resulted in riots by the residents. One recent one actually brought the residents down into the Copacabana area and some places/hotels had to be closed. The Government’s claim that favelas have been “pacified” is apparently quite false. There is no such thing. And Rio Police is also apparently less trustworthy than let’s say Sao Paulo. Another very-trusted friend and confidant is also of the opinion that favela tour is quite demeaning to the residents. I agree with him, but I had to say I was quite curious to do it. Anyways, it was a moot point. Since we went to Paraty and we actually wasted one morning trying to go up the Corcovado, we actually did not even have enough time.
Nothing in Rio really impressed me. I was not impressed by the food. We had rodizio (the all you can eat dinner where they come to your table with the meat and you use the sim/nao card to indicate if you would like a piece or not). Carretao in Copacabana was quite good. Then we went to the Ipanema Carretao. It was horrible.
We went to a place in Lapa, the supposedly downtown and party place. We had soup and empanadas and pizzas, which were good, but not amazing. I did not have amazing food in Rio. I also tried a bunch of Brazilian wines. Not bad, but not amazing. The Rio part of trip is quite a blah for me to be honest. We also walked by Rio Scenarium, the popular dancing place. I had no desire to queue to go in. And, don’t even get me started on the hotels in Rio. It is relatively very expensive what for what one gets.
So at the end, I had to stay I did not have much good impression on Rio de Janeiro. Leaving for Iguassu Falls was very much anticipated. Though, one disclaimer, I might go back to Rio de Janeiro with a good and fun friend for the Carnaval experience, especially after a friend who lives in Sao Paulo told me that you can actually pay one of the Samba Schools to join in the parade! How exotic! Anyone game????