So I was wondering where to begin my next blog post and I figured the beginning would be a good place to start and so here we are- Brazil, the first place in truly one of the best years of my life before university and law school dragged me into their deep darkness’. So here we go; Brazil, a little review by yours truly.
I picked South America as the place to go to for my trip because it was the last continent I had to step on (bar Antarctica but I’ll save that for another trip as the clothes I packed for Brazil and Mexico wouldn’t really translate to -30 degrees), and where better to begin than the place famous for its good vibes- Brazil. I flew from Johannesburg to Sao Paolo and had to connect to Rio as unfortunately there were no direct flights at the time which was really not an issue, except maybe trying to get the Brazilians to engage with me in Spanish at 1 am to take us to our hostel… Spanish = no bueno in Brazil. Oh, and try not to ever change your money at the airport, their exchange rates are genuinely the worst.
First of all, Books Hostel. If you haven’t heard of them you definitely should and I spent the remainder of my trip recommending it to anyone who even mentioned potentially visiting Rio. I don’t have to boast too much as you can read its reviews on the hostels page and from other hostel recommending sites yourself but for a little intro:
It’s run by a completely off the wall Brazilian named Felipe (the Captain) and his staff from around the world who bring absolute life to the little place tucked away off a side street of Santa Tereza. It’s a relatively small hostel but I think that’s what makes it all the better. As a starting point for an 18 year old in a whole new continent, Books provided the most amazing banter, parties and introduction into the world of backpacking. It serves breakfast, something I realized after leaving was a relative luxury compared to other hostels and is in a great central location with easy access to the local buses and metro, or even walking to the sights. Oh, and it remains the best caiparinha happy hour I had in South America for sure.
To be honest, most of my nightlife consisted of Books parties or going out with people who worked/were staying there to the local bars and clubs which was always fun- though I do remember one in particular had some very bad europop going on so I didn’t last too long at that one… The hostel also organised a party boat one night which was really good and on another we trekked into the Favelas to a rooftop bar at sunset which I thoroughly recommend to those looking for something a bit different.
Ipanema and Copacabana was of course on my list, unfortunately there was no show girl by the name of Lola at the hostel to complete my trip down to the beach, but it was a nice day out. For those of you looking for the Brazilian babes famed to be found there, I guess I was out of season because all I found were (much) older men in speedos- but to each their own hey! To be honest, there are much better or prettier beaches out there if you’re into your ocean-scapes, but you have to go, don’t you?
Christ the Redeemer is a great view, and worth seeing as the size of the statue really did surprise me, but its a little on the pricier side (as a the budget backpacker that I am) and I never got a photo without at least 1 other tourist spreading their arms in the background. So if you’re not too into crowded spaces, a view that’s just as great can be had following a 2-ish hour walk up a mountain called Dois Irmãos (two brothers). You start the hike at the bottom of a Favela but you can pay someone a couple of Reals to take you to the starting point on the back of their motorbike- I’m lazy and was hiking for two hours after this so I took the motorbike offer up to the mini starting hill, typical. The hike isn’t difficult- like I said I’m not the model of fitness so if I can do it you can too! On the way down we also grabbed lunch at one of the little restaurants where you pay by weight so we definitely made up for the calories burned. Unfortunately I hiked it on a pretty cloudy day so my photos aren’t great- but you can take my word for it! There are also tours offered in Favelas which I heard are interesting but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to go on. I did however, attend a local Brazilian football match which was insane- the spectators are something else! And this is coming from experiencing the mad rugby hype at multiple South African games here, but the Brazilian football fans really do take the cake in terms of passion and noise!
Most of my time in Rio was spent rambling around which I found the best way to find the cooler, out of the way spots (like the little Acai spots- yum!), that you could get lost in- or ask Felipe for any tips since you’ll now definitely stay at the best hostel out there! Rio was bustling, as any big city, so at first I struggled to find its character but after 10 days walking around it really grew on me, and I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of popping over the Atlantic.
Here are a couple of my Brazilian stats:
Days stayed: 10
Hours travelled: 15
Brazilian words learned: Obrigada! (always know your pleases and thank yous)
Beaches visited: 2
Mountains climbed: 2
Times I got lost: quite a few
Hostels stayed in: the only and only
Caiparinhas consumed: umm…
Pairs of Havaianas bought: 2
My Brazilian adventure ended in Rio as I set off for Bolivia next, but I am definitely going back to take a little adventure around the rest of the country, and you should too.
Stay tuned as I discuss dancing on bars, being saltier than the salt flats, and a lack of friendly llamas in Bolivia next!