Driving into Rio from the airport you are not treated to particularly nice sights. Rio although a beautiful city is surrounded by dirty, polluted shanty towns and favellas - with every available space taken up with some rubble shack or building (No greenery in sight). Things looked very ominous especially as on landing and getting into the airport it began to rain. (the day before had been sunnywith 43 deg.).
Still we managed to find the right bus without any stress or fuss and headed off to Rio. Up until now the traffic in Brazil had been supprisingly light and fast moving. This was about to end. WELCOME TO RIO! Bear in mind we are heading into the city on a Thursday at 10 am so it should have been fairly easy going! Boy was I mistaken. The main highways into the city are chocked and choked with huge volumes of traffic. This abated somewhat though once inside the city and it only took us about 1.5 hrs to get to the district we were staying in. This area called Barra was about 15 mins from Copacobana beach and was a lovely neighbourhood. Called the 'Maimi of Rio' by our travel guide.
We found our appartment dropped the bags and then tried to think what we could do in Rio when it rains. The answer is not a lot! So we headed to th local shopping mall and grabbed a nice lunch and wrote the rest of the day off.
The next day we were a little luckier in one respect (No rain.....No sun either but no rain was def the headliner) and unlucky in another respect (I caught a nasty cold). We had to pay a visit to the UK embassy to file through some paperwork and then after walked around the district that the embassy was in - Botofogu. A very charming part of the city that housed an excellent Indian museum. After walking about a mile to find a restayrant recommended by our book (only to discover it had closed down) we headed over to Urca (another district) famous for having the Pau de Acucar (sugarloaf mountain). We took the famous cable cars up and enjoyed clear (but def. not sunny) views of the city. Heading down it began to rain again - and neither of us flt particularly safe walking around so we headed back home.
Saturday and we arrive at Copacobana beach. Perhaps the most famous beach in Brazil. Still no sun but that hasnt stopped the hordes of volleyballers or footyvolley Cariocas (rio locals) hitting the sand and enjoying their weekend. I have to say this is perhaps the nicest and cleanist beach I have seen in Brazil. Really well managed and as we walk along the swirly tiled promenade I forget my stinking cold and the awful weather and really enjoy myself. We headed to Fort Copacabana that offers some great views of the beach and bay. After we head to an even nicer beach - Ipanama and watch some Footyvolley then get a lovely lunch.
Sunday we discover the hippy market and enjoy this vibrant and eclectic crowd and after visit the Planetarium in Gavea (Highly recomend a visit here even if nothing is in English - still a stellar attraction). We did try to visit Lapa though it started to rain and after about 5 mins there we really did not feel safe. It looks like the russian level in Call of Duty 4 (post apocolyptic) and when asking directs from a cop we were warned about gangs of kids mugging people so we hopped into a taxi and headed home.
Monday it tipped it down again. Lots of rain and stormy winds which made doing anything a bit difficult. Luckily we discovered a huge shopping complex not that far from us so we headed there to do some window shopping and discovered that the cinema was just £2 so we watched Benicio Del Torro in Wolfman.
Tuesday we headed back up the depressing scenary to the airport and headed for Foz de Iguazu hoping to find better weather! Rio was nice - beautiful in parts but very crime ridden, intimidating and polluted on the outskirts. Best enjoyed in sunny weather.