We got up this morning around 10am. I was able to sleep in despite the loud street noise coming in through our window all morning.
We had the hostel breakfast (bread and butter with jelly and juice) and prepared for the day.
We had general plans to go see Santo Cristo (the big Christ statue that overlooks the city) and possibly go to the beach.
I suggested to my brother maybe we take a stroll around the area before we leave. We stopped by the car so he could put his bag in.
While we were at the car, a guy came up and said some stuff to us in Portuguese that we didn’t understand. I think he was telling us to pay him money for parking. My brother got freaked out so wanted to leave. The area was still sketchy during the day but not nearly as much as during the night, at least they picked up all the garbage.
We didn’t like our hostel, it literally seems like it is in a favela. It was better by day but there is graffiti everywhere, old broken down buildings, shady characters.. and most importantly the people didn’t seem very friendly and the staff could hardly speak English.
Another hostel was recommended to me on Francisco Muratori which was right around the corner so we stopped by to check it out. We didn’t know it was possible to be more ghetto here, but more ghetto it was, so we went through our GPS tourist destinations as we locked our doors parked across the street from a few homeless people.
We couldn’t really figure it out because it was in Portuguese so decided to head back to the hostel to get our guide books (I had forgotten them there).
The traffic was awful, at a standstill pretty much. It took us 2 hours to drive the 2 miles back to our hostel.
We were feeling pretty frustrated at this point, we had much higher expectations of the hostel seeing that it got 96% rating on hostelworld, the people weren’t friendly, and we just waited in traffic for 2 hours for no reason along with the long drive last night.
Once we got the guide books, it was fine. We found Tijuca National Park in the GPS where Santo Cristo was so we started heading over there.
With the traffic the “30 minute” ride ended up taking about 2 hours. We were off into the jungle with some crazy winding roads up the mountain. A fun drive.
Apparently we took the wrong entrance into Tijuca park, and ended up at a nice viewpoint, Vista Chinesa.
(tijuca park 1)
We took a random hiking trail at the summit of the hill and trail blazed up a mountain for our own views.
A local guy gave us directions to Santo Cristo after following signs to Corcovado.
On the way up, some kid said some Portuguese at us. We didn’t understand (notice any theme?) so the kid comes up to my window and holds on. Clearly he wants us to give him a ride up to the top of the hill. Another kid holds onto the other side window. So obviously at this point it makes sense to give them a ride up the hill, so we did. On the way up, a car tried to pass us. This has now become an unbelievable unsafe situation (taking sharp corners on a windy road doing about 40k with a car passing and two skateboarders on either side). I try to pull closer to the edge of the road so the car can pass and the kid on the ride side of the car wipes out. I thought I ran him over but I guess not. With a tattered shirt he asks if I can give him a ride the rest of the way up in the back. Of course I assume he wants to sit in the back seat, but no, he wants to sit in the trunk.
We paid 26.53 Reales for the entrance to Santo Cristo. We thought we were going to take a train up but it was only a bus. They only checked the tickets at the top for entrance so we realized we could have just hiked up and avoided the fee. The line took about 45 minutes, I waited in the ticket line while my brother waited in the entrance line.
(waiting in line)
We saw Santo Cristo and got some lunch.
There was a great view of the city; what a beautiful landscape to build a city on. You could see a good perspective of the entire city; the modern ocean front along with the favelas in between.
(view santo cristo)
It was about 5pm at this point and we decided to check out the beach. Copacabana was the beach area and the GPS said it was 36 minutes away. 2 hours later we arrived.
A beautiful beach; it was interesting because in most places you would expect an ocean front resort area to have beautiful modern buildings; here many of them appeared in disrepair. You could see the favelas on the hill side just behind the ocean front hotels.
We walked along the waterfront and saw an amazing sand sculpture. They are planning on having the Olympics here in 2016 so I was told they are trying hard to improve their image.
After a nice sunset, we made our way back to the hostel. Only took 15 minutes to get back without any traffic.
Arriving here the second time at night, I was slightly more comfortable. The place is still incredibly sketchy and we are thinking about moving to Copacabana. However this area in the Centro is supposed to have better nightlife and we intend on going out tonight.
One of the street guys asked us for 10 Realis for parking next to a pile of garbage (I had to get out of the car in the passengers side) and we handed it over. My brother didn’t bring his bag in because he didn’t want any of them to see him with a bag.
We spoke to the guy at reception in the hostel and he confirmed that those guys illegally collect money for parking. If you don’t pay they might key your car. The guys have an agreement with tow truck drivers so the tow truck drivers will only tow the cars that don’t pay the money, and the drivers get a piece of the parking “fee”. He said that the area gets bad on weekends during the day, because the people here are out of work and doing drugs on the street. During those times you have to be especially careful not to have a camera out or a fancy watch because you can get robbed. But told us not to worry!!
The owner picked up a kitten on the street an took it in as a pet, the thing looks like it has been through hell, a good representation of the neighborhood.