After New Years Eve we had 5 days to recover and check out the rest of the city. I slept til 5pm on the 1st, making it easily the least productive day in the last year. Exploration and resolutions would both have to wait a day.
Rio is an interesting city. The size and beach vibe reminded me of LA. The smell reminded me of New Orleans. There’s heaps of people, both tourists and citizens. It’s surprisingly hard to find one who speaks English. There’s a drastic class difference. Laundrymats think you’re crazy if you want same day service or if you ask them to wash your tennis shoes. There are a surprising number of Argentinian tourists. It’s a great city if you’d like to rage. I split my time between sight seeing, hanging out at the beaches, and actually doing more running (in aforementioned stinky shoes) than raging.
Rio’s two most famous beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema and we stayed really close to both of them. I hadn’t heard of the latter, but when I told my parents we were staying in Ipanema they both started singing the Sinatra song. It is about that beach; the song was written about a woman who used to pass by a cafe on her way to the beach. Apparently the words are totally different in Portuguese, and the lady married someone else. Wah wahh.
In terms of the beach attire, this little convo sums it up pretty well: Marti, in awe: “I’ve never seen so many speedos.” TJ, with excitement: “I’ve never seen so many thongs!!” That aside, the sand was amazing, the beaches were huge, and cheap umbrella rentals and beverages were everywhere.
As much as I love lazy days, I couldn’t do the beach everyday. On a particularly cloudy day we opted for a guided tour of some of the more famous city sites over the beach. Given the exchange rate, even touristy stuff is pretty reasonable if not downright cheap. We paid $200R (about $50usd) for an full day of sightseeing, including admission to the sites and transportation between them all. It was a good way to see the famous, photogenic parts of Rio.
My favorite parts of the city ended up being the area around the botanical gardens and Lapa. Lapa has this really cool set of stairs that were designed and constructed by a foreigner that lived and fell in love with Rio. More than 100 countries are represented in the tiles that make up these steps, including several from Texas and one from Excelsior Springs MO. The artist always said his work wouldn’t be completed until he died, which he did, on the steps, and there is a big unsolved mystery/scandal as to whether it was murder or suicide.