08.03.2013 - 17.03.2013 35 °C
Everybody talks about Rio. Everybody loves Rio. Everyone lights up and their eyes fill with happiness and longing when we say we are going to Rio. Everyone. Loves. Rio.
Honestly, I had gotten a little tired of the rest of our trip continually being degraded in the eyes of fellow travelers to "WOW RIO! You're going to have SUCH a good time!! (Oh, and the rest is cool too I guess)."
Well, we've now spent 8 days in Rio de Janeiro. We love Rio. We love talking about Rio. For the rest of our lives our eyes will light up with happiness and longing when somebody says they're going to Rio. We will forget all other details they try to tell us about their amazing trip and get caught up in dreamy reminiscence of our own wonderful trip to Rio aka Paradise.
So what is Rio all about? Why is it so great? Why does everyone rave about it so? It would be impossible (and take a very long time) to write a full answer to those questions. I won't even attempt it. However, I will tell you a bit about our experiences.
Rio is a huge city that sprawls through an expanse of hills and valleys. There are numerous viewpoints (or Miradores) that offer excellent breathtaking views, but no one spot is able to show off the whole city at once. It is tucked into the overwhelming nature, greenery and mountains (not to mention the ocean and beaches..!) of Costa Verde - the green stretch of Atlantic coast between São Paulo and Rio (approximately).
Oh, and did I mention that Rio is beautiful?
We arrived by bus from São Paulo at about six on Saturday morning and managed to get a taxi to our hostel. The taxi driver first tried to charge us 70 reais instead if 44 (the price we had gotten from the taxi-organization-booth) (everything is very organized in Brazil), and when we argued and asked why, he said it was "because we had luggage". This was of course ridiculous so we settled on 50. Being "cheated" on 20 reals (or for whatever reason), our driver was pissed and proceeded to drive us through the city at breakneck speed, going straight through a number of red lights in moderately heavy morning traffic. We finally arrived at our hostel and got out of the cab, kissed the ground and shed a tear of relief and have since then taken the metro everywhere
Our hostel is called Casa 579 and situated in Santa Teresa, a lovely, hilly neighborhood in between the beaches and the "center" of town. Streets are cobblestoned and narrow, hills are steep, the streets winding and greenery covers everything. From our hostel we have an amazing view of the Christ statue as well as Sugar Loaf hill and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. It is easy to reach all parts of the city, breakfast is absolutely fabulous, the staff are incredible and friendly, the hostel itself has a great kitchen and common areas (including a rooftop terrace) and great rooms (we should know, we've stayed in about half of them by now ). Originally, we had planned to stay only two nights in Santa Teresa and then move closer to the beach. Well, two nights became three, became four, became six, became eight.. Did I mention that we love this place?
Our days have been spent relaxing, sightseeing Rio, lying on the beach(es) (Ipanema and Copacabana), exploring the local cuisine (meaning: found a local restaurant that we absolutely love and have been visiting 1-2 times a day for the past week. Good thing they let you take leftovers home or I'm afraid we would have starved today as it is Sunday and the place is closed..), running, touring the biggest favela in South America (Rocina, and that experience is worth a whole blog post all by itself), going to a Friday night "street party" (where they close off a huge street in the center of Rio and literally have a giant party with lots of music, drinks, people and pickpockets) and staying up all night. A good number of hours have also been spent taking in the lovely views, relaxing in hammocks on the terrace, reading books and just LOVING LIFE. Because life is SO GOOD.
Tomorrow we leave for Arraiao do Cabo, a small beach town a couple of hours up the coast known for its beautiful beaches, white sand dunes, untouched islands with caves and some if Brazil's best scuba diving. Also, it is only going to rain half the time of our stay ( as opposed to all the time.. The rainy season has come early this year, which actually is one of the main reasons for our prolonged stay in Rio. Originally we wanted to spent a couple of days hiking in Teresópolis, a mountain village on the edge of a national park. We also wanted to go to Ihla Grande, an island a couple if hours down the coast said to be one I Brazil's most beautiful spots and not to be missed.. Unless it is raining, at which you should avoid the island at all costs. Well, we've had thunderstorms nearly every day and there is a week of downpour forecasted.. So Ihla Grande will have to be scheduled for another trip)
Luckily we don't have to say a definite goodbye to our beloved Rio just yet as we'll be coming back to spend a few last days here before flying to Paraguay.
Oh, and did I mention that Christoffer is here also? I can't believe how perfect life is, and how lucky I am to have such wonderful and amazing people around me to share it with.. Every day is absolutely wonderful and my heart keeps swelling with happiness until it fills my whole chest.
I love our life so much.
(We say that every day, several times a day, and we mean it with all our hearts).