We are in Rio! Our hopes that at least a few speaks english or spanish in an city where millions of tourists comes year per year was blown away on our first day.
Execpt the people working at reception in our hotel no one else seems to understand something except protogese. Not the people working in restaurant of our 4* Hotel, nor anybody at Copacabana beach.
But lets start from the beginning. We ask our hotel if they can provide a transfer service and they offered us several options. We decide to choose the most expensive options: A bilingual driver. So we get catched up (and yes he was able to understand basic english, but not enough for a conversation) and get a ride to the hotel. On the way – in an 5 lane tunnel – people was running on lanes against the driving direction. Our driver was stopping and start turing around – just no note: the 5 lanes where a one way – and other car´s did the same. So there was not only one car was driving in the wrong direction, a bunch of did. Of course other cars where comming (in right direction) and so it was a little mass to get out of the tunnel. But after a few minutes we here out and the driver choose a different way to the hotel.
Alter checkin in the hotel, Max and me where going to Capacabana and since sunset was around 5pm we reached the beach more or less shortly after sunset. But this is not a problem at all. The beach is illuminated by a lot of lights which are normaly only seen in sport stadions.
Max was playing on the beach and I tried to get something to drink – which is not so easy without speaking portogese. The solution was a menu in english language and using hand and feeds.
Kasia was going to a hairdresser in the meantime (which was recommended by hotel) where also nobody speaks a foreign language. The solution was Google Translate! The ladies there where real good skills in using Google Translate!
During dinner in hotel restaurant – the waiter was not speaking any word english. The waiter offered us a menu in english language which as a little more than 10 dishes on it. We where pointing on the dishes we want and he was couting the lines on the menu. After that he took a portogese menu and count the lines again. Yes, you guess it. One of our 3 dishes was wrong and we get an additional one we have not ordered….
We asked several people (driver from airport to hotel, reception,…) what will be the best taxi company and the answer was always: “please use UBER, it is the only save possibility”. Hmmm. So far we was not using UBER at all and we what to use the underground train, so we asked for the way to the next station (about 3 blocks from hotel). We went there and tried to get tickets. They had either one way tickets (which can only bought on machines which requires portogese knowledge) or prepaid cards (quite similar to Oyster, except one cards is enough for several people, because there is only one price per ride).
After a while discussing – of course using hand and feeds – where where lucky getting a prepaid card with 50 real on it (about 15 Euro). We where going to the turnstile willing to enter as we where stopped by a guard while a lot of people where comming out of the station. We where not able to find somebody who can tell us something, so we go back to hotel. There they where able to find out that the tube was broken (again, it was also the day befor). So we downloaded UBER App, create an account and learned how to use it. We used UBER serveral times in Rio, works perfect every time and nobody was speaking a language we know.
Our first ride with UBER took us to Theatro Municipal (exciting) and the national library (which is not worth coming there).
After that we eat lunch at Amarelinho (vis a vis of national library). We ordered 3 dishes and got 9 plates with food. One (which was redundant) we sent back immediately. The food where good and we where not able to eat half of it.
So the first impression: nice, warm (25-27 degree celsius during winter!) and not really save.
The next two days we had Dirk.
Since Kasia was afraid from news about crime in Rio (initially we planed to start or trip in Rio!), we where not planing to come here. But several people we met in argentina told us it is save enough, so we get Rio back on the list again. Kasia insist hiring a guide, so we found Dirk – and we where very lucky with this decision.
Dirks is German, living since almost 25 years in Rio and knows a lot of things you will never see using normal tours.
We started with the highlight at all, which also offers a perfect view of Rio:
On the way there Dirk showed us a little place where no tourist will show up: “pharmacy place”. In older times this was the only place where you get pharmacies.
Next stop was the national park with an waterfall.
Continuing driving through the park he showed us a lot of viewing points.
Finally we arrived in Santa Teresa. Here we could see how close rich (manor houses) and poor (favelas) where living.
We took the old tram back to city center.
A ride which is very exciting but over to fast. Should be done by every visitor of Rio!
After that we did a break at Cafe Colombo (sweets are very good!) before we had a walk through the streats.
The locals do not care of old buildings. If the want to have an aircondition, the are willing to damage or destroy the beautiful facades…
And then we found Harry Potters Library! At least it looks like the library in Hogwards…
Not enough we passed by several churches.
The church of the black people:
… where kings and rich people had there own logen. To get seen was more important than attending the service…
On way back to the car we also pass by the Theatro Nelson Rodrigues and several other places.
Not to forget the monkeys!
Last station on the way back to the hotel where the stairs of Escadaria Selerón.
On next day weather looks not so since, so we started to “Zuckerhut” passing by several interesting locations.
The “Zuckerhut” where partly in clouds but anyway it looks great. Dirk told us that is was completely renovated for the Olympic games 2016. Befor it was ugly up there.
After that we go to city center again visiting another church …
… and the cathedral.
Walking through the streets seeing a lot of nice buildings.
And of course: Grafiti!
Than Dirk want to have lunch at a favela. We drove in there and found a street blocked and local people told that is currently it is not safe, so we leave immediately.
So we hide to Barra – the Venice of Rio. It is connected to the sea only by a small channel and consits of a bunch of islands.
After this we get back to hotel. This two days where amazing! Thanks a lot to Dirk!
Dirk offers services in german, english, spanisch and of course portogese.
Dirk Böse, Rio Up & Down