Big Jesus, as I affectionately like to call him, the iconic symbol of Rio de Janeiro stands really, really high on top of Corcovado Mountain looking out over all of the City.
His devotees – Catholic, Portuguese speaking locals, lovingly call him Cristo and they call home ‘Cidade Marvillhosa’ the marvellous city.
Christ The Redeemer watches over all of his resident Cariocas, some are exceptionally wealthy, living in their luxury apartments overlooking the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. While the poorer other half live in one of the many graffiti covered favela slums nestled precariously on the mountain sides.
Our South American trip is up and running, huzzah! We started large in Rio de Janeiro, the city we have seen so many times in films and on TV shows. It’s a city usually associated with the famous February exotic carnaval, one full of hedonistic partying and dazzling teeny bikini clad bronzed beauties! However me and Mr E aren’t the thong wearing, late night party drinkers Rio usually accommodates…but we saw plenty and we did think the city was pretty marvelous.
For the first time ever we’re visiting a county below the equator. It’s balmy cloudy Spring season in Rio and it’s a city full of anticipation. The XXXI Olympic Games will be held in Rio next August 2016 and the city is in full preparation. A shiny tram system is being laid through the modern downtown central area, additional metro lines are being constructed, the new airport terminal and the Olympic Village are nearly completed. Stores are stocking up with merchandise and beach vendors already have plenty of unofficial tourist tat to sell to visitors.
Copacabana Beach will host volleyball on its wide golden sands and the triathlon event will take place on Avenue Atlantica in front of the glitzy Copacabana Palace Hotel, it’s going to be an amazing host city!
Before we arrived, we had read those horror stories about snatch & grab gangs targeting the beaches, druggies ready to pinch your purse at any opportunity and unfortunate tourists getting shot in the favella after taking a fateful wrong turn. It’s scary stuff, but the police presence in all the tourist areas is very strong and they seem to be getting very geared up for next summer.
We are happy to report we went everywhere we wanted to visit on local buses for 60p each trip and on the clean, goosebump freezy air-conditioned metro for 65p. Public transport is cheap, safe, efficient and plentiful. We had looked at escorted tourist trips prior to visiting, mainly due to warnings that the city wasn’t that safe but as we do our research on where we go, don’t wear anything flash and generally keep an eye on our surroundings we felt pretty pleased with how little we spent in this affordable city.
We stayed in an AirBnB cosy apartment just minutes walk away from Ipanema beach, with super helpful hosts, the location was perfect to get around from. Our most expensive spends were on entrances to see Christ The Redeemer £20, the Sugarloaf cable car £24 and tasting a delicious traditional Feijoada dinner with drinks £30.
For us we decided what makes Rio a great city, are the stretches of gloriously sexy beaches, the stunning mountainous scenery with its lofty granite peaks, leafy humid tropical parks, add in a few fabulous tourist attractions and it’s a city that lives up to is name.
While we didn’t party late into the night, we certainly enjoyed a few local beers on the beach and I sipped on the famous potent Rio caipirinha cocktails – yummy and lethal!
Read here about our Rio highlights in this separate blog posting. next up we’re heading south to Florianopolis, which we have read is one of the best places to live in Brazil.