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For me, in comparison to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro was like a breath of fresh air. I’m not really a ‘big city person’ at the best of times, but when said big city is also boring, dreary and grey, it’s a recipe for disaster in my eyes. And that, to me, was Sao Paulo.
I’m sure the city has some redeeming qualities, and there are definitely a lot of people who fall in love with the bustling metropolitan, but I am certainly not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time in the city but four days was more than enough.
On the flight over from São Paulo to Rio, I wasn’t actually that excited. As I’ve probably already mentioned a hundred times in past posts, Brazil has never appealed to me for any reason other than Christ the Redeemer. So obviously I was looking forward to crossing off number 5 out of 7 Wonders, and I was also kind of excited to meet up with @!$# (and look what happened there..) but other than those, I had no idea what I was going to do with my 8 days in the city.
When I landed, I fell in love with Rio almost as soon as I walked out of the airport. I tried to find my way to the public bus, got lost and ended up with a strange toothless old man giving me a coconut (no worries, I didn’t drink it!). That set the tone for the rest of my stay, really!
The city – even in the pouring down rain – is so vibrant, colourful and exciting. It’s the complete opposite to São Paulo. In fact, in my first hostel my roommates were a family from SP who said that they come to Rio every so often for the weekend as it’s so much more exciting than their own city.
As it turns out, eight days is enough to basically see the whole city and will honestly say I did not do or experience anywhere near as much as I should have. Of course, I went to all the main ‘must-sees’ such as Christ the Redeemer (twice thanks to the awful weather), Sugarloaf, Copacabana Beach and Lapa Steps, but other than that did not nothing but wander around and eat a lot of Subway and Chinese food.
I didn’t participate in one of the other ‘must-dos’ of the city, a Favela tour – not because it didn’t interest me, but because I’m not exactly sure how I feel about tour companies capitalising on the misfortune and lack of money of others. I also missed out on Ilha Grande (thanks rain!), something I am kicking myself about! But I guess that’s just another reason to go back…
If Rio de Janeiro was a person and I could ask it one question, it would be when the city isn’t imminently hosting the Olympics, what do they sell in shops? In every direction all you could see was Rio 2016 merchandise, signs and fancy sandcastles. There were a whole bunch of shops dedicated to the Olympics and I really really want to know what they have been doing/will keep doing every other year!