Spent some time visiting some of the popular Rio sights. Started with Ipanema beach near our hotel, checking out all the good looking women 🙂 and enjoying coconut water. We even found Mogo (fried Yucca or Aipim Frito in Portuguese) to go with the coconut water, 🙂 🙂 .
I had been itching to visit a Favela, so after some research, found that the Rocinha Favela was not so bad a place and to boot, and a decent restaurant we could have lunch at, with a great view. So after convincing the wife that it was safe, we grabbed a bus to Rocinha from the hotel. The bus dropped us off at a suburb called Sao Conrado; the bus driver indicated where we should go to continue our journey.
So went around the corner as directed, and came across several small mini-buses and a bunch of motorcycles. Figured out after talking to a couple of the motorcycle guys that the motorcycles (1 passenger per motorcycle, and helmet provided) and the mini-buses (matatus) were the major ways to get around in Rocinha. The Favela’s are built generally on grounds that are too difficult and expensive to build on; so usually the Favela’s are on very steep rock surfaces; with narrow roads, and small shacks built one on top of another (of brick, concrete), but with poor construction. So the roads into Rocinha and inside the favela are very steep, narrow with gulley’s leading to more housing and businesses.
The wife was not too keen on the motorcycles, so we hopped onto a mini-bus. The driver took the route at a very slow pace, keen to fill up all available seats to maximize revenue. But only took on as many passengers as there were seats available; phew. So every time someone got off, the driver took his time to get the next passenger to ensure all seats were filled. So we slowly got to the top of the hill, and got off at Rua Um. Asked directions from the local shop to where the Restaurant Visual was located. Turned out this was a 5 min walk uphill where the incline was over 45 degrees at least, & is called “laborioux” for good reason. So after climbing this laborious hill, arrived onto an opening with a fantastic view of Rio.
Took some pics, and went uphill another 50ft, and came to the Restaurant Visual.
This is a restaurant that is basic, serves everyday Brazilian food (Meat or chicken, with rice, beans and fries). It was spotlessly clean including the restroom. The meat was not the best cut, but it was home cooked by the Mum, and served by the family with a big smile.
The son came over and spoke some English, so chatted with him and his friend. He told us a little about themselves and showed us the new place they were building a couple of doors up the hill. Great views from their Favela home, which was just 2 floors of 150sq ft each. Was a little worried about how much engineering design had gone into this design and construction; but I guess favela’s have been built this way for years so they know what they are doing.
After checking out this home, we walked downhill, to the main road, and took a little look around this Favela. Mostly clean, though it was dirty/smelly near where the garbage had been collected and not picked up. People were all clean and decently dressed. Did not feel unsafe, but took precautions with the camera.
Took the bus from Rocinha Favela to the Centro (of Rio); this was quite a crazy ride as the driver of the public bus was speeding down the narrow twisting roads downhill, and all passengers, including us, had to hold on for dear life. In Rio Centro, we toured the Theatro Municipal and National Library, both of which have been beautifully restored. Visited a few of the recommended local churches and monasteries, some of which date back to 1605; all within walking distance.
Walked through the old Portuguese town center; which was narrow cobblestone streets and gulley’s, lined up with shops and houses, and lots of people; very lively. Reminded me of old town Mombasa. Most of the shop owners were Chinese, with Brazilians working for them.
Next, took a bus to the Christ Redeemer statue that is at the top of a steep huge rock with the majestic statue of Christ overlooking the City of Rio. This place was magnificent, and well worth it. It provides a 360-degree view of the area, as it is on a very high peak, and the city takes up 270-degrees of this view. Since it was evening by now, and sun was setting, we decided to stay will it got dark to see the lights of the city; very beautiful on a nice clear day.
One the way down, we were the only passengers in the bus, Asked the driver for a good seafood restaurant in Copacabana, and he was very kind and dropped us off at a very nice seafood restaurant. Had our fill of seafood and took the bus back to the hotel.
We were pretty adept at the buses and subway/metro by now. Metro was the best way to get to and from downtown. The Metro was very clean, organized and efficient, with the metro-trains coming every few minutes. Flat rate of R$3.70 any stop. Outside, one Metro station we used (General Osirio); we came across an open air fruit, vegetable and fish market.
Fortunately, we had no issues on this front. Thanks for reading…………