Country Brazil | Related Post Rio de Janerio
Day 2 we felt more confident, and walked to Centro for the “free” walking tour. It was wildly boring, so we ditched (giving a minimal tip). A guy from Canada came with us, offering safety and travel tips and a bed bug scare. I did stellar navigation to the waterfront, and we made our way to the Museum of Tomorrow (building cooler than exhibit; we did our fast-museum running and were in and out in under 20 minutes), Olympic Boulevard (home to world’s largest street mural, Guinness World Records says so), Art Museum (awesome samba exhibit and some interesting photography) and a Sketchy Unknown Area where we had juice that may have been unsanitary accompanied by our daily crushed peanut butter sandwiches.
We walked back and grabbed a bus successfully (go us!) to Sugar Loaf mountain for an evening hike and sunset. Fearing we’d miss it, we ran up the first portion of the hike and quite nearly died (not as fit as imagined, clearly). We made it in time but couldn’t figure out where to get tickets and walked around flustered for 20 minutes. Finally we got in line and up the cable car to the top for sunset!
It was not as imagined. Lots of tourists and selfie sticks, and lines galore to go up/down. Christ lit up at night was incredible, though. We became deranged and cold as our sweat dried on our bodies and we looked uglier than anyone else on the mountain for some reason. On the way down we realized we needed an additional ticket…ugh. In an attempt to save money we got in line and acted confused when it turned red, as though we made a mistake with our tickets. This did not work; he made us go back and pay. We attempted the bus back but Sarah had a language barrier and got scared and we got off, even though I knew we were on the correct bus (unacceptable mistake!). We then took a cab which we were convinced was swindling and/or kidnapping us but actually was not.
Back at the Hostel…
A shirtless grinding dance party took place in the reception area, as the caipiriñas and beers flowed. Some people got free drinks as they had gone on the pricey tour that day and the hostel liked them (not us). We determined to be social and hung for a while. For dinner we ate pasta sauce and peas which we tried to pretend was “mixed vegetables with tomatoes” but were obviously found out and mocked. Then the “friendly” hostel man pressured us all to go to a beach club, suddenly slapping wristbands on our arms (clearly getting a cut of club promotions). The drunk people at the hostel bought it and went 40 minutes there. We stayed behind and everyone hated us. The next morning I went for a walk around 7 and the guys were outside, clearly up all night and still drunk, “HAHA are you going for a morning walk?” they mocked. “HAHA did you stay up all night and stain your shirt?” I replied (actually I did not say this aloud).
During said early walk I ran in the park in my normal clothes because, why not. Also running fast is safer than slow walking especially when alone. Then we ventured to the St. Theresa neighborhood, allegedly a cute area in the mountain and accessible by cable car. However, I made an error and we arrived at a tunnel rather than the cable car (the map was unclear, I maintain). Sarah felt ill and yelled at me because I wanted to see a final sight, so I went alone. On the bus a man was watching me and I had irrational fear, so I got off randomly, abandoned my destination and walked back. We finished the day with a final Acai ice, purchased from a nice man in a tiny, filthy shop on the corner (his hands were covered in dirt as he wiped the cup – that is what hepatitis shots are for).
Despite many warnings, Rio really did not feel unsafe or scary as repeatedly described. We were highly alert and careful throughout due to said warnings (and joked about it), but I have felt a lot more unsafe in many places than we did at any point here. Of course usual caution is necessary and it’s advisable to be aware, not trek alone at night, and not wave around valuables, but I really did not feel scared or uneasy at any point.