Days spent: 5

Days recommended: more than 5!

Where we slept: Airbnb private room in a shared flat in Copacabana, hosted by Jeff [if you’re traveling as a couple in Brazil, Airbnb can prove to be cheaper than hostels]

What we ate: a lot of tapioca, tropical fruits, feijoada (black beans stew with beef and pork), moqueca (salt water fish stew in coconut milk with veggies), roast-chicken (try Galeto Sat’s), biscoito globo (a beach snack made of polvilho, a manioc starch), açai (thick smoothie of açai berries, covered in oatmeal).

What we drank: tropical fruits ice cold shakes, ice cold chopp (/draft) beer, everything made with cachaça, matte leão (a refreshing iced tea, sold by beach vendors directly from metal barrels carried on their shoulders). A Brazilian would never accept a lukewarm drink, and ice-cold actually makes a considerable difference in the taste.

How we travelled: by foot, with the underground and buses during the day, Uber by night.

Km walked: 65

How Rio affected our wallets: not so much! However, we skipped churrasco which would have made a much bigger impact!

Issues we encountered: maybe a basic knowledge of Portuguese could have proved to be helpful in some occasions. Otherwise none. Cariocas are quite welcoming and nice, Wifi can be easily found and credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere.
We (actually I) was very worried before our arrival because of Rio’s bad reputation as far as safety issues are concerned. It’s a big city, favelas and poor neighborhoods are around every corner and wealthy or middle class people are far from being the majority. If you plan your trips, avoid some areas, keep a low profile and your eyes wide open, you really shouldn’t get into trouble. We felt much safer than we thought we would.

Would we recommend it? Definitely yes, up to date one of the highlights of this journey and a place where, if we knew Portuguese and didn’t mind living away from Europe, we would consider moving to.

Analogue tips:
Rio is so colourful that you really should consider if it’s worth to shoot monochrome. If you own it, it would be great to bring a wide angle lens or a panoramic camera. The viewpoints allow you to take some proper picture perfect shots.

What to do:

  • Follow a free walking tour in Rio’s downtown. The best way to have an overview on Rio and Brazil’s history, politics, economics and culture. The tours are not run over the weekend. [Avoid going to the city centre at this time of the week if you don’t want to find yourself in a dodgier remake of “I am legend”]
  • Give in to a selfie frenzy in Escalaria Selaron, at the bottom of the hill of Santa Teresa. I dare you to resist to the colourful tiles from all over the world that make these stairs so iconic.[If you want to be on the safer side slow down your enthusiasm and avoid venturing far away from the beaten track. To get to the uphill bohemian heart of Santa Teresa you might better take the inexpensive cable car -bonde- from Centro]
  • Let Cristo Redentor and the scenic view from the top of Corcovado take you breath away. Gerti, Isa’s grandma, was right when she described how heavenly it felt to be on the top. [If you want to avoid long queues at the cable car that takes you the legendary landmark either book a ticket or go there before 10 AM or after 4 PM. Also avoid hazy and cloudy days]
  • Hike in the jungle to get to the top of the hill fronting Paõ de Açucar and marvel at the view of Baia de Guanabara. [You can access to this path after walking past the less known Praia Vermelha in the upcoming and chilled out neighbourhood Urca. If you feel lazy just take a boring cable car!]
  • Drink the night away in Lapa on a Friday night. This is where all the party goers want to be, where loud music comes from every door and window and where whatsoever drink or Brazilian street food can be found. And everything goes on in the street! Fun fact: After miserably failing in our attempt to join a pub crawl tour (nobody else but me and Isa showed up…), we decided to start drinking caipirinha on our own and sent the organizers back home. That’s when two girls approached us asking where the pub crawl people were. They were 90 minutes late. We liked them immediately and asked them to join us. Livia and Angela, two young and beautiful, proud Cariocas, who were there to get to know people and to practice their English, actually spiced up the night and showed us how to have fun in Rio’s style. [try flavored cachaça and don’t forget to wash your mouth with a shot of jambu and let it pop!]

[to be continued]

 Olympus OM-10, Fuji Velvia 50 (35, expired) and Lomochrome Purple 100-400 (35), 24-25/11/2016, Rio De Janeiro (Brazil)