Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I've made it to the beautiful city of Rio. The first day I was here, the weather was cold and rainy and horrible, so we didn't do much of anything. Yesterday was much nicer weather though, and I took a tour offered by my hostel around Rio. Our tour guide was fantastic and knew everything there was to know about Rio. We first went to the Tijuca forest, a giant forest in the middle of Rio (and as our guide said many times, the largest urban forest in the world!) We hiked up the Pedro Bonito mountain and had fantastic views of the city. It's also the place where hang gliders take off - they land on the beach! Then we went over to the Cristo Redentor statue, the famous statue of Christ that overlooks the city. Once again, the views here were incredible - 360 degrees of Rio! After that we went to the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, a really old, Bohemian area. Then we went to the famous Lapa steps - this artist from Chile bought this outdoor stairway years ago and slowly tiled the whole thing. It's really beautiful, and you can send him a tile from where you live and he'll add it to the steps, and then send you a picture of it! I found several from Canada and the US. After that some people went up Sugar Loaf mountain but I was too tired. I have a cold so I haven't been able to enjoy the Rio nightlife, but hopefully I'm going out tonight.
Today was really beautiful weather so we went to the beach. My hostel is in the Ipanema neighbourhood, right near Ipanema beach, one of the best beaches in Rio. Vendors march up and down the beach selling everything from shrimp and beer to bikinis, sunglasses, and sun screen! I lost count of how many times I had to say 'no, obrigada' (no thanks) today. It was a great day for the beach though. The surf was too strong to go swimming but I think I made some progress on my tan! And there's nothing better than lying on the beach sipping fresh mango or guava juice all day!
My hostel is in a great area - it's on this lane that only has other hostels on it, so each night people just hang out outside. I've met a lot of cool people from around the world.
Hopefully tomorrow will be another beach day, and then on Friday I'm going on a favela tour, which should be fascinating. It will show a very different side to Rio than most people, especially tourists, see.
Hope your weather is as good as mine!