We have come to the end of our time in Rio de Janerio, which is our final destination. We arrived on Saturday and have been staying in the famous Copacobana beach area (Im sure you know the song). When we were in the taxi from the bus station in Centro to the beach suburbs, we were rather overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds of Rio. It is a crazy city and there is always something to watch and gawp at.
The layout of Rio amongst all the hills and around the sea makes it quite a sprawling city, but it doesnt have as many inhabitants as I imagined. The population is around 6 million, whereas Sao Paulo is home to 70 million people! There are 22 favelas in Rio; 14 of which are now controlled by the police, and 8 still run by gangs and drug lords. It makes for very segregated living, with crime occuring often. We were warned by other travellers to be extremely careful here as thiefs operate everywhere, and we even heard stories about girls having their earrings ripped out in the street! Needless to say, we were wary on our first few days here, and have been really careful during our stay.
To be honest, I am not too sure why people think Copacobana is that great. As far as I can see, it is a large, dirty beach next to water that is not suitable to swim in. Moreover, the street it is on is lined with prostitutes at night time. Aberdyfi beach in Wales is more my scene! Having said that, the view of Sugerloaf mountain from the beacfront is quite special.
On Monday we did a full day city tour to get our bearings. We went to the top of sugarloaf mountain via cablecar, took the train up to Christ the Redeemer statue, saw the most famous football stadium in the world (although it was closed to prepare for the 2014 world cup), walked down the strip where the carnival happens, and took a look at a massive 1970s cathedral. We also enjoyed a Brazilian BBQ at lunchtime, and met various holiday makers from around South America. It was a fun day out and a safe and interesting way to learn more about Rio and Brazil.
We have spent the rest of our time in Rio mainly in Copacobana, due to the heat and the huge expense of the city. Food is the same price as at home and it has been around 30 degrees for most of our time here. We have really enjoyed having some sun after spending so long in Winter in the Southern hemisphere! It is hard to believe that it is actually still winter here. Our tour guide told us that in summer it can reach temperatures up to 47 degrees!!
It is hard to compare Rio to any other city in the world as it is so varied and different. I have enjoyed experiencing it, but it has been a bit of a shock after all the fresh air and open space in New Zealand. I am not sure if I would recommend it as a holiday destination to people who have the same interests as me. Probably not.
We are about to go out for our final evening meal in Rio, and of the trip as a whole. We have the day in the hostel tomorrow before we fly at 11pm. We will land at Heathrow at 2pm on Friday afternoon. We are both really excited about going home now and cant wait to see our family and friends.
We will both write a final blog tomorrow to sum up our world trip.
Bye from Brazil,