When it was time to leave Foz de Iguazu we took the easy (and most sensible) option – a flight. As we have said before we only fly over land as a last resort really as we enjoy seeing the country at road level. However, the expense of travelling to Rio by bus, the time it would take and the lack of stop-over options along the way made a flight the sensible choice on this occasion.
We got good seats on the plane which was practically empty and we were free to move to pretty much any seat we wanted really. It was great to see the views of the jungle and the rivers below as we flew out of that central area. We hoped to have brilliant views of Rio as we flew in too but no – it was cloudy, grey, dull and miserable unfortunately.
We have come to Rio for a reason – the Olympics. 2 years ago we started the process of applying to be volunteers for the event. Now with most details in place about what we would be doing and where we would be working, we needed to work out the best areas to stay and find somewhere to live for 3 months.
So as we were going to be here for a while, we decided to book an Air BnB and for our first 2 nights here, hoping maybe to extend it right across the olympic time if we liked it. We booked a nice room with a host in Urca – one of the safest neighbourhoods in the whole city – which the host then cancelled the night before we left Iguazu. Grrr! This meant before our flight we were left with no destination when we landed. Not good so Bryan very quickly booked another place.
When we landed we had an acceptance email from the new AirBnB host and off we went in a taxi to find the house.
The directions from the host were vague. Meet in the bar called Do David and ring me from there. Only trouble was we didn’t have a phone and the “bar” didn’t have wifi.
Bar is a very vague term also for this place – it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. Plastic tables and chairs on a hardstanding in a very dodgy looking area, but it had friendly people who were happy to help us.
One man used his phone for us to contact the hosts and another helped us carry our bags all the way up the hill to the house.
Which was in a favela!
NOT what we were expecting at all and if we had known then we would have never have gone. But once there, it actually didn’t seem so bad – the room was large and had a view of the sea. The host was the father of the girl we had been messaging whom herself was living in London and he was very friendly. He set about allaying our fears over being there.
“Don’t worry it’s very safe here” he started off by saying. “if you hear gunfire – they won’t be shooting at you but just keep out of the way. They only shoot at each other”
“The drug dealers keep the streets safe. That way people will come out onto the streets to buy drugs. If the streets were not safe, no-one would buy drugs and it would be bad for business”
Some sort of twisted logic there we suppose!
“You know that nice man who brought your bags up for you? He was one of the biggest Drug Lords around here until he took too many of his own drugs and has gone a bit soft in the head now” he continued.
A chap who was renting one of the other rooms who had lived in Italy and London, also spoke to us. He told us we were very safe here and everyone was very friendly. Don’t believe all the bad stories he told us – everyone here is very nice.
Well we were here now and we decided to treat this whole thing as an experience. We would just stay the two nights we had booked and in the meantime look for somewhere else.
Actually when we did go out, everyone smiled at us, said hello and we didn’t feel threatened once. We even ventured out in the evening to find somewhere to eat and found a fabulous little place dressed up like a pirate boat. The lady there made fabulous food and so cheap.
However, although not as bad as we thought it would be, the house wasn’t particularly clean – actually the kitchen was filthy and the lounge had a lady sleeping on the floor so we couldn’t use that. And the father slept in the kitchen and the whole setup was just not for us.
We moved to a hotel in the Central area and breathed a sigh of relief. We had survived 2 days and nights in a favela!
We got back to or search for an a place to stay over the olympics. We thought this was going to be hard. Because of the Olympics, prices were shooting up and hostels that would normally charge around £15 a night for a room were now charging £100 a night. Ridiculous! We tried AirBnB again but this ended in chaos. We went to visit the girl in Copacabana who was renting the room out and talked about staying all over the olympics. The flat was nice so we agreed to book for a couple of days just as a trial run. But it turned out it wasn’t even her room to sell! That got a bit messy with AirBnB but we got our money back and we started visiting agents instead.
Everything here is so tiny, more like studios But it did clarify for us that we wanted to be in the Copacabana area. Ipanema was also nice but twice the price. There really isn’t much point being in Rio if you are not going to be by one of their fabulous beaches. Is there?
We got given the nod on an apartment being rented out for exactly the time frame we needed. It was owned by a French chap and we called him and arranged to go and see it. We arrived the apartment was perfect for us and he was asking a reasonable price too. Trouble was the man was just chuntering away to himself and couldn’t seem to make up his mind about whether he wanted to rent it out or not. He was so rude. Then he apologised for being in a bad mood and told us he had just split up with his girlfriend.
Oh dear – bad timing for us.
We tried a few agents and saw several studios but the 3rd agent we tried – Charles, didn’t have anything on the books but told us his Aunt was renting a room out. He took us along and we picked up his girlfriend on the way – Carolina was from Chile and spoke really good English which helped us a lot. It was definitely the smallest place we had seen so far, but it was close to a metro station (Rio’s Underground system) and one street back from the beach. Lots of restaurants, shops and supermarkets everywhere – and safe! . Despite Big Jesus peering down on you everywhere you go, not everywhere is safe here. A good area bumps the price up quite a bit but that was important to us
We agreed to take it from the 21st June.
So after all that hassle, the weather finally picked up, the sun came out and we were starting to feel a bit better about this city. Time to enjoy it a bit.
We had heard about a place where only locals go and headed over to the point behind Sugarloaf Mountain – Urca – where the first AirBnB was that cancelled on us. It was really nice, very residential and would have been a beautiful place to stay. Except there were not many places to eat here and it wasn’t that easy to get to and from by bus.
But tonight it was perfect. A Caipirinha and nibbles on the sea wall as the sun went down with crowds of others. If you are young and trendy in Rio, this is definitely the place to hang out after work. Perfect way to end a day.
We managed to get to the Rio 2016 offices too. Jody still hasn’t had a position confirmed for the Olympics yet even though she was one of the first to be accepted as a volunteer. The website we have to use as volunteers for completing our training and accepting positions has had so many faults and bugs in the system that it didn’t acknowledge her acceptance of the position she was offered on the transport team and we hoped by going in and speaking to someone we would be able to move the whole thing along a bit.
Well it never but we did get a sneaky peak at the gear they were selling.
Copacabana is beautiful. But probably not what you expect to be honest. The travel brochures always depict young bronzed, fit bodies in skimpy bikinis and trunks playing volleyball or stretched out on the beach topping up their tans. Our photos show the REAL Copacabana!.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the sand is so soft, the water looks so clean (regardless what the health experts say about it) and the waves are beautiful to watch as the tumble in. The setting with the mountains in the background is so beautiful. We can’t help but try and imagine the reaction of the first people to stumble across this place when they arrived by boat in 1565. It would have been breathtaking!
So now it was time to go off for a week and for us to relax somewhere beautiful we think.
Where shall we go? asked Bryan
Jody said How about Buzios?
Where? said Bryan
Buzios – A nice lady told me all about Buzios when I got chatting to her when we were in Argentina Jody said and showed Bryan some pictures on Google images.
Beautiful Bryan agreed. let’s go there
And that’s how it’s done – Our life is so simple really. We love it!