So I guess it wasnt really a ‘road trip’ but I was super excited for my first visit to South America! We fell into a taxi after our 14 hours traveling from London Heathrow, and were immediately consumed by the crazy traffic. There were tons of people weaving between the cars and motorbikes, attempting to sell their sweets and snacks. It was actually pretty impressive!
Our first hotel was… interesting, with it being completely empty upon arrival, having to follow all the back streets & cobble stone roads to reach it – the hotel definately felt a little eery. The first night was interrupted by a storm – cutting all the power in the area – and led to a day with no wi-fi and little breakfast 😦 not quite living up to this amazing picture we had created of Brazil however, this was not going to stop us exploring the local area on our first day. We decided to head to Leblon Shopping Centre – in the attempt to purchase a rain coat and ended up leaving with 6 pairs of flip-flops instead… always optimistic that the weather may turn. We took a short walk to Ipanema beach and the rain eventually stopped. It was beautiful (and practically empty – unlike Copacabana beach). Though the waves were pretty wild and about 5ft tall, the sand was so soft and it was awesome to see so many people running and keeping fit by the ocean.
We met up with friends on our next day at our second hotel. It had incredible views of Copacabana beach and was only a two-minute walk away. We had a load of sports lined up for the olympics:
- Beach Volleyball
- Canoe Sprint
It is way to tough to pick a favorite but… I loved the Gymnastics – and it definitely helped by Great Britain winning 2 gold medals and a silver, alongside the home team winning both a silver and bronze. There was an incredible atmosphere with people from all around the world covered in flags and face paint, singing their anthems loudly with pride…
As for food in the city, my favorite restaurant was ‘Satyricon‘. Though it was a little pricey, it had the most amazing sea food on offer. We went twice in our seven-day stay. We tried all sorts of places around Rio and there was a crazy mix, though none of us spoke much Portuguese, the Brazilians were super helpful and friendly – especially when it came to public transport.
Before we headed out to Rio, people made a big deal of Zika and the crime issues in Brazil, I avoided all mosquitos (only seeing them briefly one night) and felt pretty safe with police and military scattered round the city day and night.
The highlight of the trip was Sugarloaf Mountain. The views were unbelievable and as we went the first thing in the morning, there was space to go around at the top to take photos.
It was pretty cool arriving at all these different places and bumping into athletes you had been cheering for, only the day before. The olympics provides a unique and welcoming environment for people – regardless who you are and where you come from.
I definitely wished I could have made it to the favelas and stayed for carnival season, but had an unforgettable trip and would have loved to stick around a little longer and explore Brazil further.