Rio de Janeiro, 9/19 - 9/23 (Part THREE of THREE)
So, you did the right thing and kept reading? Nicely done. As you can tell, I have a lot to say about Rio de Janeiro ("Heu de Shanairu") and appreciate that you are interested enough to hear my stories, too.
Just to recap, on Friday (9/19) we had a nice beach day at Copacabana Beach, Saturday (9/20) we went to Cristo Redentor and Santa Teresa Favela, and many more things in between. So Sunday (9/21) is where I will start this post.
On Sunday, we were slower to start the day and wanted to relax a little bit in the hostel while we could. The weather took a drastic change for the worst, as the temperature dropped down to 75 degrees (a real travesty, there) and it was raining. Nonetheless, we still made the most of the day while we could because we were in Rio and nothing was going to get in the way of seeing the city.
We decided to start the day by going to the famous Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden). Unfortunately, this was the most epic fail that we suffered from on the trip. As soon as we stepped off the bus at the Jardim Botanico, the skies opened up and we were drenched. After not even making it into the garden because of the weather, i was not that upset about it considering I would rather not stand in the torrential downpour just to see a some flowers. So we went back to the hostel and regrouped for another plan.
Later in the afternoon when the rain stopped, Olga, Antonio, this Swiss girl named Valeria, and I went to the Hippie Fair in Ipanema. Known for its handmade crafts and cheap souvenirs, it was a nice change of pace around Rio. In addition, it was just like the San Telmo Market in Buenos Aires that we went to on my birthday. Afterwards, we went to the Jardim Botanico for the second time of the day and had much better success that time around. The garden was much bigger than I anticipated and even had a small waterfall, so that made my opinion of the place improve. Some of the parts of the botanical gardens looked straight out of a Taylor Swift Music Video, only for the reason that I feel like I have seen one of her videos in a place like that.
Finally, after the Jardim Botanico, we walked closer to the hostel and came across a horse track that was fairly empty, but we explored it anyway. I remembered seeing a track in the area when we were at Cristo Redentor on Saturday, but was not sure where it was located. We enjoyed a few minutes of relaxation, watched one race with these amazing jockeys and horses, and headed back to the hostel for dinner before going to the beach at night just to hang out.
On Monday (9/22), the weather improved tremendously and we made a short beach day out of the time that we had left in Rio. Lined up on the beach in Copacabana are numerous stands for tourists and Cariocas to learn how to paddle board. Since it is something that I have never done, nor would want anyone in the United States to witness me do, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. And for only 30 reais and a lesson included, it was another "Only in Rio" moment. Paddling out and managing to stand up on the board was one thing, but mastering it after the short amount of time, and three falls into the blue waters of Copacabana, was also unexpected and well worth the lesson. In addition, the view of the beach and city from that perspective on the water was something that I will remember forever.
After this, Sydney, Ben, John, and walked towards Ipanema Beach, which is right next to Copacabana. Another popular beach, as the tall hotels and boardwalk dominate the area around Ipanema. In between Ipanema and Copacabana there are large rocks that jet out over the crystal-clear, blue waters around Rio de Janeiro. The area is called Arpoador and it was definitely one of the most iconic places throughout Rio. It is hard to explain how amazing this place was, considering the fact that I was in awe while I was there (just like at Cristo Redentor). Off the coastline, it is visible to see a few islands which I would have had no problem swimming out to and staying at. Once again, the pictures only show so much of the area, but it is definitely somewhere that I hope to return to.
After some lunch and a quick stop at the hostel, we were off to Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) for the last destination during our time in Brazil. Pão de Açúcar is known for its iconic views over Copacabana, as well as most of the city including Lapa, Centro, Urca, and Santa Teresa. It is situated at the edge of the Guanbara Bay at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean in Rio. Towering 1,299 feet above the harbor, Pão de Açúcar is said to look like the end of a loaf of bread. Hence the name in English, Sugarloaf.
Tourists and Cariocas alike can take a cable car up to the top of the first peak of the tour. This peak is called Morro da Urca and offers an awesome of a view over the city. However, it is nothing compared to the view at the very top of the second peak, Pão de Açúcar. We caught the sunset on top of the peaks and I will let the pictures below explain the rest of the story. Finally, it was the last, but best place that I visited in Rio de Janeiro and I am already excited to go back and see it in the near future. Finally, we made it back to the hostel, got the rest of our stuff together, said our goodbyes to Antonio, Olga, and the Walk on the Beach Hostel Staff, and we off to the airport for another three hour flight home. And after all of that, we made it back to Buenos Aires at about 6am on Tuesday morning (9/23).
In conclusion, I could go on for hours talking about all of my experiences thus far in South America. (Sorry for the corny-ness to come with this..) Whether it is about the people I meet, things I try, or places I see, the mentality of an expat is an open mind and an open heart with ability to talk to people from all walks of life. There is no way to explain how much I have grown as a person throughout this trip, and I anticipate that it will only continue over the coming weeks. Rio de Janeiro, I will be back. Hopefully I will be back for the 2016 Summer Olympics so I can make use of my Tourist Visa for Brazil, but as of now I just have some great memories from only four days in the best city that I have ever been to. Don't worry Buenos Aires and Argentina, you are up there on that list too.
Thanks for listening to my stories and talk to ya'll soon.
"Viva Sua Paixão" (Live Your Passion) -- Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics Slogan