I wasn’t so sure what to expect of Rio de Janeiro.  Everyone I spoke to about my plans to visit the city warned about the levels of crime.  I was told to only carry the essentials and to wear no form of jewelry whatsoever.

Actually our first negative experience of Brazil came from the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls where we were cheated out of money.  From there we made sure to carry small bills and use exact change as much as possible.

Then upon landing in Rio and driving to our hotel in a cab we set in very heavy traffic were we could easily see several favelas and the highway itself was full of people selling water, drinks, popcorn and snacks.  Even our hotel, as nice as it was…

…with views of the ocean and pool…

…also looked into a favela.

To make the most of our 2.5 days in the city, and to allay worries, perhaps mostly mine, we arranged for a private tour  that included the national park, christ the redeemer, and the area of Lapa.

How gorgeous is the park?  I can’t believe I was there a little more than a week ago!!

The park used to be a coffee plantation, and now it puts Central Park to shame.

The park, and the city as a whole was full of rock climbers.

No rock climbing for us, but we did do some hiking up to a cave.

On our way to Christ the Redeemer we saw our first monkies of the trip.

View from mountain:

We then made our way down and to the area of Lapa. And our ride for the day, the purple Jeep :).

Lapa-not an area we would have ventured on our own.

But so glad our tour guide took us to this area of the city and to see Escadaria Selaron-from Jorge Selaron.

Looking back down and its a different set of stairs, no color at all.

Making our way back down the stairs we saw this man with a small camera crew behind him.  Apparently he does a lot of work to help children in various favelas.  As a result he’s also a target of drug lords who have tried to kill him on a few occassions.  Thus the government often provides him protection…

Our driver then left us with a lunch suggestion near Sugar Loaf.  We ate and then made our way up the first of the two mountains (the second being Sugar Loaf).  We hiked the first and took the cable car to the latter.

Once on top we watched the sun set.

 

All sunset pictures thanks to Ryan.

On our last day in Brazil I left everything in the hotel room.  I wish I had pictures from the Botanical garden, because it was the best I’ve ever visited.  That said I’m glad I didn’t have it while walking the beaches in Copacabana because the moment I let my guard down this young boy on a bike came towards us and snatched Ryan’s necklace from his neck. I was completely shaken, Ryan said I turned white! While Ryan had his necklace stolen I’m very thankful he was okay, things certainly could have been worse as noted in this New York Times piece, it certainly could have been worse.

And even with a sour taste in my mouth I’ll be back to the country, its too beautiful not to return and hopefully in light of the World Cup and the Olympics the government can figure out how to curb the levels of crime. And for country and its people itself! I think the most surprising thing, even noted in the New York Times article, I was most surprised about the lack of reaction from all the people around us.  I feel like in New York, with that many people around in a touristy area someone would have caught the guy or at least asked if we were okay.  Anyhow, we had the full Brazilian experience.

Tomorrow I’ll have a quick post on the foods and music of Brazil.

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