Today @iexploretheplanet talks about his trip to Rio de Janeiro. Check out the interview below:
Welcome to the community!
Tell us about yourself, about where you come from and about how and when did your passion for traveling start?
Let me introduce myself. My name is Gavin and I’m originally from the United Kingdom. I grew up there and received my education in the British system. However, once I had graduated University in the UK, I moved to Hong Kong. This was back in 2001 and I have been here ever since then.
Today you are going to share your recent trip to Rio, Brazil. A city of contrasts between the touristic places and the local alleys. How did you decide on this location?
One of my trips that I would like to share with yourself for your readers is my adventure to Rio de Janeiro during the Chinese New Year in 2017. In Hong Kong, we have quite a bit of time for vacation leave during this period, so I decided to spend the best part of 10 days in Rio. Of course, it took well over a day to get there and back alone. I needed to fly from Hong Kong via New York, which presented a nightmare with US immigration requesting Visas even if you are in transit. This was a first for me on my travels.
How did you travel to the location? Where did you stay? Is there/how is the transportation there? Did you use an agency, a guide or you did it all yourself?
In Rio itself, I stayed at the Miramar Hotel by Windsor which I had researched through Tripadvisor and Booking. The main advantage of this hotel is that it’s located on the Copacabana Beach which is something you dream of seeing and walking along. The main highlight of staying there though was the stunning sunrises which I could watch in awe from the roof top pool. Literally, nobody else was up at that early hour so I had it all to myself. It was simply breathtaking. The best part of any day is always the early morning, you can beat the crowds and have the whole place to yourself, something which is important to take into consideration when visiting popular sites around the world.
Could you explore on your own? How was the language barrier?
For my tours of Rio, I purchased the Explore Rio de Janeiro guidebook from Insight Guides. I often use this series for my travel excursions. It provides brilliant walking routes and useful information about the sights as well as hotels and restaurant choices. In order to watch the Brazilian soccer match and visit the favelas, I needed to arrange a tour through the hotel. With the guided tours, you had transportation and a guide to stay with you during the visits. The favelas, in particular, should not be visited alone by travelers. During my stay, I was woken by the shots of gunfire coming from the favelas behind my hotel in Copacabana. However, it just added to the experience of this magical adventure. The favelas are well worth visiting on a tour in order to gain an insight into how the local people live there. We had the opportunity to see their craftsmanship, visit their homes for talks and snacks/drinks and some special photoshoots.
What surprised you there in a good way? And, did you have any strange/unpleasant experience?
Whilst I was there, it became very evident the contrasts in lifestyle and culture between Rio and other popular tourist destinations. Along the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana people were not glued to their smartphones nor using their cameras to take pictures. Rio has a bit of a reputation for crime, so it pays to take caution. However, at the uber-popular tourist sites like the Christ the Redeemer Statue and Sugarloaf Mountain, it was taken as many pictures as you can though. Both sites are very popular. Be sure to head to Sugarloaf early to beat the crowds and catch the amazing views. Christ the Redeemer should be seen later in the day. It’s pretty busy at all times up there, so you’ll have to deal with some jostling.
What did you learn from the culture and/or the locals?
Brazilian people are very passionate and friendly and welcoming I discovered, they love to soak in the sun at the beach and enjoy being with friends and family. Soccer is an important part of life as you’ll find out. Obviously, they have had to endure some issues economically and politically. Due to this, there were protests when I was there and it just happened to be in the Downtown area when I was visiting which isn’t where many tourists ventured around. However, the protests can and did turn violent that day with riots in the street and buses ransacked and torched. It’s always worth monitoring the situation, but don’t let this deter you from visiting this vibrant city.
What was your favorite sight/thing in Rio? / Any tips for future visitors?
My favorite things in Rio were without a doubt taking the cable cars up to the top of the Sugarloaf for the view early in the morning. I picked the best day by far as it was as clear as a whistle. My jaw was on the floor and it goes down as my all-time favourite view in the world. Even surpassing my former favorite, my very own city’s Victoria Peak. Secondly, going up to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue, it is one of the 7 wonders of the world. I would actually say that the main draw here is the staggering views of Rio from the statue rather than the statute itself since you are so close to it, you can’t truly appreciate it’s colossal size. Other mentions have to go to the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema which were a pleasure to walk all the way along. There is some very attractive folk at the beaches too, so it’s the perfect place to do some people watching.
Anything you would have love to know/ be prepared for before arriving?
Was is your next adventure? Anything planned yet? Do you have a bucket list?
How can we see more about you and your trips? what is your website or/and social media
Hope you liked this post. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate in commenting below or contact me. If you want to collaborate in the blog, with your experiences or your trip’s photos, get in touch!