I’ve been in Rio for one week now and haven’t had much of a vibe to write anything. I woke up this morning and realized I’m flying to Belem in a couple of hours so I’m desperately trying to cobble together a few words before I whisk myself up north. And wouldn’t you know it, just when I’m in a hurry I had a Microsoft password disaster and have been battling with that for the last hour. What was I thinking when I agreed to a two-step verification process in the event of forgetting my password? Two step verification in a foreign country is virtually impossible!!! So, I ended up having to open a new Microsoft account and repurchase Office. Arrggh!!! How annoying… And, that would be my second repurchase of the trip.
I had planned to fly from Sao Paulo to Rio (rather than taking a bus) and purchased a ticket with Avianca Brasil. The ticket price to Rio from Sao Paulo was about the same across all the airlines but I was familiar with Avianca so I decided to choose them. I had flown with them a few times in Colombia and was really impressed with the service and I also liked the red colour scheme they used for both the aircraft and the uniforms. I purchased my ticket without any problem. Some weeks later I happened to be googling Avianca Brasil. You know how it is… It’s midnight and you really need to be sleeping, but then you realize you won’t be able to sleep unless you google the fleet size of some random airline. So, as I was googling Avianca’s fleet size, I chanced upon some current news stories about the airline… In short, Avianca Brasil had gone bankrupt. Most of their planes had been repossessed and their routes had been cancelled. However, they had continued selling tickets for about the last six months on aircraft and routes that didn’t exist!! What’s more, Avianca Brasil had no connection with Avianca Colombia. It was just some dodgy low-cost carrier that had leased the name and re branded itself. That was extremely annoying but there was nothing that could be done. So, I had to buy another ticket, this time with LATAM.
As much as I like Sao Paulo and its inhabitants, I was a little bit relieved to leave the city this time. The combination of jetlag and being stuck in that prison cell of a room with anti-social flatmates took its toll. And, I was hoping I’d enjoy the nightlife more than I did… It just didn’t do it for me this time unfortunately… In retrospect, I think if Sao Paulo is your first stop after a long haul flight, it’s better to splurge the money and get a really nice room. Chances are that you might end up spending a lot of time in it, as I did.
Arriving in Rio almost felt like arriving in a different country after Sao Paulo. In place of Sao Paulo’s oppressive endless wall of beige are lush, green tropical tree lined streets filled with stunning examples of Neoclassical, Neogothic, Art Deco and Modernist architecture. It’s kind of like a tropical Lisbon, but on a much grander scale. It’s quite simply stunning!
To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect coming to Rio. My image of the city had been largely formed on what I’d seen on the internet and from Brazilian people I’d met in Sydney. And yes, if you know me, Brazilian people that I’ve met in Sydney, particularly the women in recent months, have not been in my top ten list of favourite people. I was a little bit reluctant to come… To be brutally honest, I thought the city would just be full of pretentious passive-aggressive, entitled people strolling around in bikinis, snorting cocaine, air kissing and telling each other how much they love them, while at the same time dodging bullets from rival drug gangs.
I couldn’t have been more wrong!!! The people here, at least the ones I’ve encountered in this last week, have been some of the most courteous, well-mannered kind, friendly and down to earth people I’ve ever met in my life. Brazilian people here are INCREDIBLY NICE. The hosts in my Airbnb are incredibly warm and hospitable and let me treat their house as if it were mine.
To the Brazilian woman in Sydney to whom some months ago I suggested that rudeness might have been a Brazilian cultural thing (in an attempt to try and explain and justify your rudeness towards me) I have to apologise. I apologise for suggesting that rudeness is a cultural thing. It’s not… It’s just you. You are a rude and entitled woman. Brazilian people are extremely nice.
As for safety, while I realise there are unsafe areas in Rio like favelas, for the most part everywhere that I’ve been has felt extremely safe, almost disappointingly so. I like a bit of edgy travel but it really feels very safe to walk around anytime of the day.
The most famous areas of Rio, Copacabana and Ipanema for me were the lowlight of the week. Ipanema is just Bondi but with a kind of Paddington vibe, and Copacabana is Bondi but with more of Darling Harbour and Kings Cross kind of vibe. And with so many Brazilian people living in Bondi, all you would need to do is put a few shanty towns around it and you honestly wouldn’t know the difference.
I bet every fat girl of Ipanema just wants to punch the writer of that song!
The star of the week has been the Centro and the other parts of the city with it’s stunning architecture.
Museum of Modern Art in Niteroi:
Museum of Tomorrow:
A street scene in Lapa:
Parque Lage and Jardim Botanico with Christ the Redeemer in the background:
Some other random scenes:
And now it’s time to go and pack my extremely inappropriate, “just in case” clothing… It’s already 30 degrees and I have tow winter jacket, a cardigan, woollen socks and three pairs of jeans.