Anguish: The Game Show
33, Av. Rio Branco, Centro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Vern: We made our way from our island-style hostel, Che Legarto in Ipanema, to our no-style hotel, in Centro (downtown). Navigating public transport was a cinch and Andrea's spanglisheguese is getting us successfully through most transactions. Centro is bustling, like the business district of most major cities, and there are hundreds of people walking in every direction. We haven't figured out the traffic lights yet which seem to go green or red together on three of the four sides of an intersection, rather than just on the two opposite sides.
The first room we were given keys for at the Center Hotel was uncleaned and without a toilet seat and our hearts sank. The second room, recently serviced ('cleaned' would be misleading in this context) did have a toilet seat and is now our little haven in this very loud city.
Food - healthy, tasty and reasonably priced - has been as tricky as Carnival tickets to track down, and we've yet to find a grocery store in the city centre. Luckily, however, we have sourced Sambodromo tickets. We tried several travel agents and our hotel reception, but finally got the tickets we wanted from a man wandering the streets with the tickets in a day pack. Completing the transaction in our hotel lobby felt oddly illicit. I really hope they are real!
The faces of underwhelmed tourists greeted us as we exited the lift at the restaurant level for breakfast this morning. The coffee smelled strongly of chicory (which is used to dilute coffee beans) and the juice options were warm guava juice and Lemsip. And for entertainment, the TV in the corner seemed to be playing 'Anguish: The Game Show'. An odd morning viewing show with lots of lights and sounds, a pretty host talking to a sock puppet and a sequence of cut-aways to melancholy people crying uncontrollably.
It's another grey day in Rio, but the plan for today is to head up to the historic city of Santa Teresa to wander the streets. We're still waiting for it to clear up enough to get good views from Sugar Loaf Mountain and to get a good view of Christ. The thought that Jesus walks with all of us takes on a whole new meaning when you have to pay 40 Reais to get up a cable car and wait for a clear day to see him :(
There are street parties for Carnival outside our hotel tonight and one this afternoon in Santa Teresa. We're really looking forward to those as we haven't quite felt the spirit of Carnival yet!