When we thought about touching down in the first destination of our whirlwind backpacking adventure, we imagined dumping our bags, running to the the beach to drink Caipirinhas and get our Brazillian butt tan in motion. However the reality pales (hehe) in comparison. We arrived at our little gated (this info is for you, Dad) Hostel and went to sleep for 10 hours. Which brings me to my first addition to my newly formed “Strange, gross, funny and unavoidable things that happen when you Backpack in Hostel’s” list. 1-You WILL hear and/or see people having sex in close proximity.
During all our travels in the past few years, Britt seems to have a universal struggle with door locks. And by struggle I mean ‘spend 7 minutes jiggling and turning and shaking the handle and swearing until finally I snatch it out of her hand” struggle. I am not exaggerating when I say there is not a hotel we have been to that Britt has been able to enter with ease. After a good few minutes battling the flimsy lock on our hostel door she reaches success, which four hours later we are rewarded with when a very loud, inebriated European man and his lady conquest are searching for the perfect, private boinking arena. After attempting to enter our private sleeping cave..because who wants to get jiggy with it in a ten bed dorm… they give up and choose the next best thing- the outdoor staircase leading to the terrace, which happens to be directly next to our open window, as in, we could reach out and touch his sweaty back, kind of close. So we’re faced with the dilemma of close the window so we don’t have to listen to her clearly forced moans of pleasure or slowly drown to death in our own sweat. Luckily for us his stamina needs some work.
Due to a mix of jetlag and the 4:30 sexcapades, we were wide awake so decided to go for a long run along Ipanema beach, along with the hoards of other health conscious Brazilians. Theres also this super cool beachfront gym for the locals which consists of homemade cement block barbells and cement-filled tincans as dumbells. It’s really awesome and has become our own little Crossfit box. This has become our morning ritual-up with the sun, long beach runs to different neighbourhoods, cement gym session and making our way through Acai cafes for breakfast. The coastline runs for kilometers and is filled with such vibrancy it’s easy to get swept up into the magic of Rio. We’ve spend our days lazing on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana (Brit still hasn’t stopped singing “her name was Brittany…” drinking coconuts, eating fresh fruit from the markets and reading in Hammocks. Thats not to say we haven’t done some exploring!
We’ve managed to nail public transport, a small win I celebrate considering NO ONE speaks english (or just doesn’t want to help us) and our Portugese is limited to ‘Obrigada’ and lots of smiling. After some sweet metro navigation (spoiler, theres only two lines, you have to be pretty special to get it wrong) and becoming local bus warriors, we’ve seen most of the city. Top of our list was Hiking up to Christ the Redeemer (Because trains are for suckers) This hike was NOT for the faint hearted. After a few bum steers to the wrong Botanical Gardens, we finally made it to the park entrance where the hike supposedly begins. We were met with a little sign with a Jesus drawing on it. That must be it, right? We check in and leave our names with the most unhelpful and unfriendly guards at the “security cabin” at the start of the hike and head on our merry way. Two hours, soaking wet clothes, a plethora of mosquito bites and some gravel rash later and we made it! After swearing most of the way that the ridiculously steep gradient would never end, we were rewarded with he most satisfying, sensational view of Rio, which almost seems inconsequential when dwarfed by the imposing Christ the Redeemer Statue (in the thirty seconds the fog cleared to universal “ahhhhhssss” and we could actually see him)
A bartered taxi ride down the mountain later and we were back on level ground with itchy legs, to where we were met with a local woman who was horrified we had hiked the trail. (Stop reading dad) … *in thick Portugese accent* “You walk? my goodness, but it so dangggggerous… *clutch breast for dramatic effect* the men, they will want make sex with you and take you thingsssss” Insert our blank faces. According to the colourful local, we luckily evaded rape and robbery. Nice information to receive after the fact.
Despite all the warnings of crime and robbery, we have both felt relatively safe in Rio and haven’t come across anything sinister. Granted we’re staying in one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Rio, but we wander around at night after dinner and navigate through the city on public transport without any worry. We’ve seen the colourful Santa Terese neighborhood, visited night hotspot Lapa, seen Sugarloaf mountain, eaten Brazillian bbq, authentic acai and sat on the famous Selarón steps-125 meters of beautiful, colourful mosaic tiles by a Chilean artist. He made it his life’s work to be continually changing the tiles so it was an ever evolving piece of art that would only stop with his death. Incredible.
It would be rude of us to leave Rio and NOT have coffee and sweets at Confetaria Columbio, Rio’s oldest bakery. Architecturally beautiful and imposing, this historic bakery is dripping in European flair, a perfect place to devour local Brazilian treats.
Unfortunately our time in Rio has come to an end and tomorrow we board a bus to the beach town of Buzious. Not before experiencing one last Rio sunset from Arpoador… a giant rock between Ipanema and Copacabana. Coupled with chocolate and cider, this romantic duo say goodnight to Rio de Janiero.