You can never be fully prepared for an adventure like this. Lesson number one, do not procrastinate.
If you know Uriah, he is classified as a level 10 procrastinator. He has a badge and everything. We just figured, “Hey everyone else seems to wing it, so can we!”. Definitely not the case. It is stressful enough being in an unfamiliar place. Then, add a language barrier plus the thought of not having a place to sleep the next night, and it goes to another level. We’ve managed so far, but have had a couple of close calls. I think one night in the future we will probably end up sleeping on a park bench of some sort. But hey, it’s all apart of the adventure right?
When you think of Rio, you think of PARTY CITY. Bright lights, live music, samba on the street, food vendors everywhere, and lots of butts. I’m sure it is, but not as much for us. The butt part is the main thing we saw lots of. Overwhelming is probably the word I would use to describe our experience in Rio. We wanted to absorb so much of the city, but it’s hard to do with the language barrier and the mass amounts of people this time of year. With no one speaking English it was hard to “just wing it”. There was also more getting settled in time than we anticipated. In between our phone service not transferring over, the Wi-Fi hardly or not working, and our ATM cards not working; it took us a couple of days to get situated. It’s proven to be a lot of work to find out where to go and how to get there. But, even with our inexperienced eyes and our tightness on time, our stay in Rio was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again. Here’s why…
The diversity is amazing. There’s not one type of person here. There are young and old, black and white, short and tall, skinny and fat…and everything in between. Which was perfect for us because it made it easy to fit in, well minus the fact we don’t speak Portuguese.
The touristy stuff is awesome. Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain are the top 2 things to do here. You read reviews and see pictures online, but until you’re there seeing it, you have no idea how remarkable these things actually are. We did a hike up to the first hill of Sugarloaf instead of taking the cable car and it was the best way to do it. The scenery was beautiful and although it wasn’t a stroll in the park it definitely was doable for most people. When we finally arrived at the top and shoved past all the people to see the view it was so alluring. Seeing the city from so far away made you really appreciate the complexity of the city. Everything from the favelas (slums) tucked into the mountainside to the heart of the city central was there in perfect view. This was the case for most the attractions we did. In the middle of a bustling city and a slew of people you can still be overtaken at the beauty this city has to offer. We also ended up coming here for New Years, one of their biggest celebrations.
Everyone and everything said wear all white because if not you will look like a tourist. It ended up being the opposite and we felt like tourists BEING in all white. Maybe there’s a new generation starting a trend, but we definitely could have passed not being all decked out. Copacabana Beach is where the party was at for the event. The firework show was amazing! A 20 minute show stretching the whole 2 mile coast containing fireworks I have never seen before. Which made the crowdedness worth it.
The food was okay. We had the staples of fresh cooked meat at street vendors and warm buttery corn at the beach, but nothing blew our minds. I think our budget was the biggest constraint regarding food. There were a lot of good local restaurants that we didn’t go to because they were over our budget. Don’t get me wrong, we did have a couple of good meals. My favorite one involving pizza. Here, they have pizza buffets. Now this isn’t your local Cici’s, y’all. This is a sit down restaurant where about every 30 seconds someone brings over a new pizza for you to try if you’d like. After you have stuffed your face of about 15 different pizzas they then bring out…wait for it….DESSERT PIZZA. Two awesome things joined together in perfect harmony, dessert and pizza…YES PLEASE.
We made our first friends! While we were waiting in line at the first hill of Sugarloaf Mountain we met Matt and Liam. One of the highlights of Rio for sure. They’re an awesome couple from London who we clicked with right away. We knew eventually we would make some friends, but we are so happy it happened sooner than later. They formed wonderful and hilarious memories we will never forget. They actually ended up giving us a ride to our next stop, Paraty, and the drive was hilarious. In between the winding roads and the not so labeled speed bumps we have many stories to tell in the future.
Rio made us appreciate the things we took for granted back home. Not that it was an extremely unsafe place, but you don’t want to have anything valuable out if you don’t absolutely need to. I learned that lesson the hard way. When we were walking back from the New Years celebration, I had the phone out trying to find walking directions back home. Long story short, a group of kids tried to take it and once they realized we weren’t locals it made it worse. In the end I got punched in the arm by a punk kid. The good news is, we still have the phone. Things like this we wouldn’t think twice about back home. It also made us appreciate hospitality. Our first home we stayed at was with Cesar. I could only image how difficult it is to welcome strangers into your home, especially ones that don’t even speak your language. He greeted us with open arms and taught us a lot about the city and culture.
The first stop in Rio was a learning curve to say the least. Even through our frustration we still were drawn in by the beauty this city has to offer. Our next stop is Paraty. Still in Brazil but slowly making our way to Argentina, hopefully not sleeping on park benches on the way.
As a side note, please bare with me in the delayed posting as the term “internet” here seems to be misleading.