Rio de Janerio, Brazil: Views, tours, Christ the Reedemer and the Escadaria Selarón

IMG_1199Rio de Janerio is the capital city of Brazil and it is located on the coast on the curve of Brazil. It is a huge city with different neighbourhoods, attractions scattered around and mountainous views looking beyond the ocean with small, hilly islands.

IMG_1153The following day, I got up early to get the bus from Paraty as I didn’t really want to spend the whole day stuck on a bus. Most of the ride was along the coast through beautiful, green landscapes and the ocean. I just listened to music most of the way, staring out the window with rain hitting the glass. Early afternoon, I arrived at Rio de Janerio bus station, where, with difficulty, I found a way to get to my hostel in Copacabana. The person at the information desk didn’t speak any English even though there were UK flags on the desk, and only spoke a little Spanish. However, we managed to communicate and I found out that I could get bus just outside the station.

I didn’t have to wait too long before a bus appeared, taking around 40 minutes to the beach. When I knew I was somewhere near where I was staying, I hopped off the bus into the rain and walked for about 10 minutes. It was easy enough to find my accommodation.

After checking-in, I had a couple of things to sort out in the nearby town and wandered around the area briefly as it was still raining. That evening, I just chilled, planned my time here and prepared some food. I talked to a few people at the hostel before having an early night.

IMG_1232The following day, I woke up sort of early to get ready for the day. As the predicted weather was showing that it was going to be a day full of cloud and rain, I decided to do the free walking tour rather than going to the Christ the Redeemer. The tour company that does the free walking tour offers many different paid and free tours. I wanted to see the main areas so I chose the downtown and Lapa tour.

From the hostel, I needed to walk to the nearest metro, which took around 10 minutes. It was easy enough to navigate the subway system, where I bought a single ticket. The meeting point for the free walking tour was Largo da Carioca (Exit letter C of Carioca Subway station), in front of the grey historical clock and the tour started at 10.30a.m.

IMG_1118As I left the station, it was pouring with rain, not what I wanted. I was slightly early so I ran to the shopping centre nearby to drink a coffee while I waited for someone to show up. Soon enough, the guides were by the statue under their umbrellas. I went over and chatted to them to find out more. There were quite a few tourist around despite the rain. The free walking tour offered the tour in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Obviously, I took the English one.

The tours went through the charming colonial streets of Rio while the guide taught us about the four centuries of the history of the city. The tour covered Carioca Square, Colombo Bakery, Travessa do Comércio, XV Square, Imperial Palace, Tiradentes Palace, Cinelândia, Municipal Theater, National Library, City Council, Fine Arts Museum and ended at the famous Selaron Steps and  aqueduct of the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa.

IMG_1162The tour was really interested and covered most parts of the city, but it was a shame it was raining part of the time. After the tour, I wandered back through the main town, where I visited inside the library, which had a small museum, Rio de Janeiro cathedral and the Royal Portuguese Reading Room. The Reading room was incredible, with old books and old architecture and I think it is definitely a must see. It’s not that known and it’s among the small streets but I just stayed here for a long time, admiring the decor (plus it’s also free).

After, I caught the metro back to the hostel as the weather was still looking miserable. I had a walk along the beach, just to take photos, then I chilled at the hostel for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I was invited out but I declined as I was feeling tired and it was with Spanish speakers only so I didn’t want to concentrate on the language all night.

IMG_1145The next day, I got up at a reasonably time to speak on the phone and catch up with some writing. I made some breakfast and coffee to wake me up then walked around the area.

Early afternoon, I went on a tour that I had booked the day before to try and see as much of Rio de Janerio as I can. In this minibus, there were other travellers from around the world also joining the tour. Once the vehicle was full, we first headed along the main roads to Christ the Reedemer, the huge white Christ, overlooking the city, which is a tourist hotspot.

IMG_1247After winding through the paths, we reached the entrance point, where our guide bought the tickets and we queued up to take a different bus. We were dropped off at the stairs up to the Christ, where you could also go up by the lift but this had a large queue. A group of us walked up the stairs, where the area filled up with other tourist, snapping photos. The view from here was incredible, having a 360 degree view of the whole city. Rio is a city on the edge of some water with little islands so it was just so picturesque. It was so hard to take photos with the amount of people around but I managed to get a few. We had around 40 minutes here, where we didn’t need any more time, before meeting up again and getting back on our minibus to our next destination.

On the tour, I met a group of girls that had been on a Contiki tour, through South America, and while on the tour, they told me all about their adventures. It was nice finding a group of girls, where I instantly click.

After, we drove through the city to Santa Teresa, a popular destination in the hilltops with a village-like vibe. We wandered around, hearing about the location by our guide and admiring the street art. It was a lovely area to see but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop for a coffee.

IMG_1182Hopping back the bus, we travelled a little further down the hill to another popular spot: Escadaria Selarón, which I visited the day before. It’s a really interesting area, where an artist decide to tile these stairs little by little by exchanging tiles with people from around the world. It soon got known and people sent this guy tiles and he placed them on these stairs. It is full of colourful tiles and a unique place to Rio. The artist died a few years before but the stairs have turned into a famous place to go.

Once we had taken photos, we jumped on the bus that drove us to the Sugarloaf mountain. This area has a cable car that goes to one mountain and then to another. I did get recommended to climb this but as I was with a tour, we just took the cable car. It was starting to get dark, which was perfect for a sunset view. The cable cars are big and full of people wanting to see the sunset. The landscape around was just beautiful with the sun setting nicely in the distance. Don’t you just love a sunset? The sky looked like it was on fire with multiple colours fading into each other.

We stayed here until it was pitch back and then took the cable car back down. As I had made friends on this tour, a group of us decided to get dropped off at the same place to go to an Lebanese restaurant, which was divine. It was slightly higher than my budget but it was totally worth it. It was a lovely end to a nice afternoon tour.

IMG_1305After scoffing down our food and enjoy a glass of wine, I got an Uber back to the hostel and just chiled for the night. I did get invited out but I decided not to go as I was feeling tired and they only spoke Spanish; I didn’t have the capacity to speak Spanish all night (always the same story).

The following day, I casually woke up, planning to have a chilled morning and relax on the beach for a bit. I didn’t stay long as the weather wasn’t that great. Early afternoon, I took an Uber to the airport to fly out of Rio de Janerio.

The journey to the airport went smoothly as well as checking-in. I relaxed at the airport, getting a bite to eat. At the gate, it got confusing. The board first changed to delayed for a few hours, and then cancelled, which meant I had to get the next plane. I needed to be in Salvador de Bahia by a certain time to get the last bus to a village, where my friend lived. It was going to happen. Then I saw that there was a huge queue by the gate, where the steward directed them to the gate literally next door. In the end, I decide to ask an assistant as the gate board hadn’t changed. I found out that the airplane had just been delayed by an hour but not cancelled so I joined the queue.

IMG_1087Finally I found my seat on the plane but someone was sitting there. They moved to the seat they were suppose to be in so I could see down. I was next to an older family with a grandmother next to me. I was feeling stressed on the plane as we weren’t taking off and a maintenance guy kept walking on and off. After a while, an air steward told us that there was problems with the taps in the bathroom and that it would take some time. Then suddenly, there was another problem with the telephones not working. We were never going to leave. People were feeling frustrated.

Eventually, we took off. It was going to be a tight call on whether I was going to catch this bus or not. Fingers crossed.

How I got to Rio de Janerio: I took the bus through a scenic road from Paraty, which took around 5 hours to the bus station. Then I took another bus from outside the terminal to Copacabana beach, which took another 40 minutes or so.

Where I stayed: Chill on the Beach hostel is based in Copacabana by the beach, which is a safe area to stay for tourists. It’s a great location, walking distance from the subway and beach. The bed was comfortable but the rooms were cramped with bed as there were bunk beds with 3 beds. It had a common area and kitchen. they provided breakfast for an extra prices and had free WIFI, which was bad in certain areas of the hostel. They also offer tours, which were good prices.

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