Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brazil! {Rio}

OH, HEEEEEEEEEEEEEY guys! SO, remember 3ish years ago when I told you about a little trip to Spain I took? Ya know, to visit a High School friend? WELL GUESS WHAT. She's in Brazil right now being the world traveler that she is. SO, we just HAD to go visit her, right?!


The mountain in the center is called Twin Brothers...The botanical gardens are to the right of the Jockey track.

My sister, bestie and I booked a little 10 day excursion south to see Rio and a little beachy town called Paraty. I didn't mention this trip prior to leaving because, until about a week before our plane left we didn't know if we'd ACTUALLY be able to leave... YOU SEE, you need a visa to get into this country. We booked our tickets about 1.5 months out and filed for our visas about a month out. The visa website says that it takes 15 days to process. NBD because we had a 15 day buffer RIGHT? NO. First, we each had an issue when we sent it over the first time (missing documents etc. totes our fault but OMG the amount of documents and verification and special monies you need to get this! Cray!). BUT we didn't consider the MILLION holidays and surprise "out of office" Mondays that this visa office has. SO, literally one week before our flight we ALL got our visas back. PHEW.

The mountain in the center-right is Sugarloaf
ANYWAYS. We made it, and..AND! we made it home! I think this was the first trip I've taken where I was actually concerned about my safety whilst there. It's really hard to see past the "people rob you with knives!" headliners and mentally prepare yourself what it's ACTUALLY like (more on that laterz, obvi). Thankfully we went to visit a Portuguese speaking human who made the trip MUCH easier. Thanks Em!



SO, i'll start this little recap with the first few days we spent in Rio...



It took us 3 flights (MN > Chicago > Miami > Rio) to get there, and since the time difference is only 2 hours, it didn't feel SUPER horrible. We did have a tricked out plane for the long flight so that made everything eazy breezy. We landed, found our bags, waited in lines, found an ATM and freaked out when it took 5 times to pull out money..

Sidebar: we all called our card companies prior to leaving to make a travel note on our account. However, I guess it's quite common for banks to STILL put a fraud alert on your account when you take out money in Brazil? IDK why, the bank even said it might happen again when I take out more money (you can only take out $250-300 USD at a time), it was super convenient since we didn't have working phones and we HAD to call them (they didn't accept our e-mails). So that was annoying, especially since there's no real solution? Buy skype minutes before you leave?

then we went out side and were shuffled into a taxi. It took about 30-45 minutes to get into the city. Traffic is pretty horrible at all times of the day, so you kinda just gotta roll with that.


We couldn't check in until 1 so we dropped our bags off at the hostel and went to grab some food down the street at Bar Do Bacana. I, for whatever reason, had convinced myself that Portuguese was fairly similar to Spanish, so i'd be able to recognize enough words to get by (because, high school Spanish?). MUCH to my dismay I was COMPLETELY wrong in so many ways. So we looked at the menu (they didn't have an English version), and were about to randomly select various dishes when a few Italian gentlemen gave us the lowdown and a few key words to look for (Fish, Beans, Chicken, CHEESE...). LOL TOURISTS.



After checking in we high tailed it to the beach to loaf for a few hours before grabbing dinner with Emily.



For our first full day in Rio we decided to check a few things off the tourist list. We started the day with a little visit to Christ the Redeemer. We took a cab to the entrance, where we bought a ticket for the next train which left in 20 minutes. The train chuggs along pretty slow and goes fairly straight up, so if you have a fear of heights, make sure to sit away from the windows :)



ProTip: there are kiosks around the perimeter of the railing that offer very interesting facts on the history and construction of this bad boy. Highly suggest reading it for a bit! Like, did you know the first design had Christ holding a cross and globe?!

After we took over a million photos and got hit with about 20 selfie sticks, we stopped at one of the cafes up there for a snack before taking the train back down.


The platform on top was PACKED with people, I can't imagine what it'd be like during the busy season (it was technically their winter while we were down there...LOL 80 degree winters must be NICE.)

LOL, everyone was trying to do the Christ pose (look bottom center) and would constantly hit people with their armspan


From there we took a cab (we took more cabs in these 10 days than i've taken in my entire life...BTW cabs ran us about 20R each trip which was about $7) to the Instituteo Moreira Salles. It's a cute little art gallery with an outdoor cafe. We had lunch there (I had a Pear Penne that was DIVINE.) and then walked around the grounds for a few hours. We met up with Emily for dinner at La Mole (Chicken Risotto) and then stopped at Belmonte (a popular bar) for drinks.





Sidebar: at bars down here, they give you a sheet of paper with their menu, as you order things they check boxes on the menu. When you go to pay you hand in your card and are let out of the bar with showing a receipt. Even when you don't buy anything you need to cash out to be let out - HA!


On our third day we stopped for brekky down the street at Big Polis (where we got brekky every morning after because it's amazing). Acai is super popular down there, so we had an Acai cup, a fruit bowl, and a some breakfast sammies.



Then we headed to the Botanical Gardens. It was drizzling pretty much on and off all day, but we made the best of it! The gardens are HUUUUGE, I think we only saw like 30% of it while we were there.








There was a 'Medicinal' garden that the resident Naturopath was pretty pumped about!







We met up with Emily that afternoon to Hike Sugarloaf. It was still pretty hazy/rainy out but the hike was super forested so it was perfect.

We hiked to the top of this mountain, on the top left you'll see the cable car building that we ended at.


Pre-hike snack of corn, churros and (of course) popcorn!
You can pay to take the cable car too if you don't want to hike the first hill...it's a pretty steep hike but it only takes about 30 minutes. You have to cable to the 2nd, but since it was so foggy we decided against going all the way. Also, it looks sliiiiightly terrifying.






We had a drink at a bar at the top before making our way down. We grabbed dinner at a cute little restaurant around there called Belmonte Boteco. THEN we went to Lapa. Lapa is a not-so-safe neighborhood that is known for wooping it up on Friday nights. EVERYONE in our hostel was going to Lapa. We made the trek over there and the streets were PACKED with people. We found a little bar playing some Somba and stayed for a few drinks trying to awkwardly learn the dance. #fail.


The next day we were off to Paraty! But that's for a WHOLE other post, since this is FAR too long already!
People don't drink out of bottles/cans in this country, I guess they don't consider it clean? So they give you little glasses to drink your beers in.



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