Friday, August 7, 2009

South America 2009 - Day 1 (8/7/2009) - Arriving in Rio

After our 9+ hour flight from Atlanta arrived in Rio de Janeiro at about 8:30 in the morning, Greg and I soon realized that we would be pretty much screwed in terms of getting around in Brazil. We got through passport control and customs fairly easily (to my surprise, I was not searched), but once we walked out into the terminal we had no idea what was going on. We were harrassed by some taxi drivers who wanted to score a fare, but we mostly warded them off. After walking around for a while, we eventually found out (with the help of one of the taxi drivers) that the ATMs were up on the third floor. We eventually found them in the far corner of the building, and I was able to withdraw some cash. Unfortunately, Greg's card did not work, so I had to spot him a little cash up front.

We eventually found a bus into town after about an hour of wandering around the airport. The bus ride took a long time, and a couple of other riders would not stop complaining about it. We overshot our desired stop in Botafogo, and ended up getting off at Copacabana with a couple of other young travelers. We walked over to the nearest Metro stop and took it one stop up to Botafogo. From there we wandered around for a bit before finding our hostel, the Vila Carioca. By the time we checked in and put our stuff away, it was after noon.

Next, we headed out to find some lunch. Once again, we wandered about for a while, half-lost and hesitant to make a decision about anything. We eventually settled on Mr. Pizza Express, where Greg had a small "pepperoni" (more like tiny salami) pizza and I had a ham calzone. After that, we wandered over to Cosme Velho (a bit of a hike from Flamengo), intending to take the Funincular tram up to the top of the Corcovado. We were intercepted by a guy (he referenced me as "Bob Marley") who was selling car rides up to the Corcovado but with stops at top of Morro Dona Marta and a nearby helipad. This only cost R$4 more than the tram, so we thought it was worthwhile. We were a bit worried the whole time that the driver would leave us at each stop, but it all ended up working out. After our visit to Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), I attempted to buy a figurine of the statue at a gift shop, but could not because I did not have enough cash (they did not accept cards).

Once we made it back down the mountain we caught a bus back towards Botafogo. Once again we missed our stop, and had to navigate back to the hostel (after dark) - and once again, we got a little lost. After making it back and putting some stuff away, we headed back out to find dinner. After much indecision, we settled on an American restaurant named B-52s in a multi-storey mall. We both had burgers (Greg's was of the monster variety), and I was disappointed by mine. On the way out of the mall I grabbed a McFlurry.

We walked back and settled in for the night. We headed down to the living area of the hostel to use the Internet, and ended up meeting a few fellow travelers who provided some good conversation and activity advice.

Pictures below:

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