Dec
1

Rio de Janeiro

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I’m currently enjoying my honeymoon with my wife Laura. We’d been planning/thinking about an exotic trip to South America for some years and our honeymoon seemed to be the perfect opportunity to finally put into motion those ideas that lay dormant on the drawing board.

In the following posts I hope to capture some of the adventure. The first stop on our journey was Rio de Janeiro. Neither Laura or I speak Portuguese, but we were hoping that it would be similar enough to Spanish for it not to be a problem. How wrong can you be? 🙂

Written Portuguese is fairly understandable, but when people speak, it becomes clear that a few hours of language tuition wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We didn’t fancy staying on the beach (for reasons that will be explained later), so we thought about the bohemian neighborhood Santa Teresa which is located in the hills in central Rio de Janeiro.

We stayed in a nice little hotel called Castelinho38 (which means little castle in Portuguese).
Santa Teresa can be reached via the iconic tram line. It is the last tram in operation in Brazil and the oldest electric tram in Latin America.

While travelling on the tram is an exciting experience and deserves attention, it does take rather a long time and taxis seemed to find it difficult navigating in Santa Teresa (some of them even seemed concerned that they would end up driving into a favella).  This was certainly the only down side to staying in this part of town.  The numerous cafes, musicians and picturesque views certainly made up for this shortcoming.

Ipanema beach was our first port of call and we walked some blocks and enjoyed the sun.  Rio is famous for its beaches and Ipanema is not quite as touristy as Copacabana.  Between Arpoador (a surfing area) and Ipanema is a big rocky outcrop where you can sit and enjoy the sea breeze and, if you had the foresight to buy one at the beach, enjoy a cool beer.

Probably the two most touristic things that you can do in Rio is to visit the Christ statue on the top of the Corcovado mountain (which is 700 metres above sea level) and to ascend the Sugar Loaf mountain in the cable car.  The cable car has been featured in the ridiculous James Bond movie Moonraker.

img_2605Brazil is unfortunately much more expensive that were were expecting.  It was hard to find a well priced meal, and we found that buying a litre of milk or some biscuits was even pricey.  There are some buffet restaurants that serve food by weight  (Por Kilo Restaurants) which were both tasty and affordable.

Finally, we will leave Rio de Janeiro for Ihla Grande, which is an island covered in mountains and jungle and is surrounded by wonderful beaches (this being the reason why we decided against staying directly on the beach in Rio).

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