When I was a missionary in London in 2002 there was a family in the ward who were from Recife in Brazil and when I would hear them talk about Brazil it made me wonder what it would be like to go there and visit. I never really thought I would go but it was nice to dream and nice to dream about what other parts of the world would be like.
Fast forward fifteen years and I decided that Brazil would be somewhere that I would like to go. I never got around to doing it as the stories I heard weren’t always good and I never really knew how safe it would be to be there. For that reason, I never booked a trip to Brazil. Rio was always my first choice if I was going to go.
Fast forward about five years and I started to look at Brazil. I am not sure what piqued my interest again but I decided that it was somewhere that I wanted to go. I began to look for prices and I found some that were around £360 return (not the usual price I would pay for flights). Of course, they were the cheapest I could find and only included hand baggage, no booked seats without a fee and weren’t direct. None of these was a deal breaker for me.
The flight was from Heathrow to Munich -> three-hour layover -> Munich to Rio and coming back was Rio to Munich -> ninety-minute layover -> Munich to Heathrow.
I think I had booked the flights about eight months before I was due to leave so never really thought more about it (I had a few other places to go before then: Kosice, Dresden, Fez, Milan, Berlin, New York, Washington DC, Cairo). Every so often I would look and realise that I was actually booked to go to Rio. Someone like me doesn’t really get to do all the travelling I have done.
Once Cairo was done, I started to begin to realise Brazil was only a few weeks away. The only thing I knew about Rio was Christ the Redeemer and Copacobana beach. I definitely wanted to see the Redeemer but hadn’t planned anything. The only things I had planned were walking tours. I will talk about each of them below.
It came time for the airport and on the day I needed to leave and get to the airport there was a strike on the tube – of course, there was! I did some earnest looking and the only way to get there from King’s Cross was by night bus. It was three night buses that I needed to get. I got to London and made sure I got some food and enough time to eat it before I left to get the bus.
I honestly forgot how lively London was even at two and three in the morning. I had to get a bus from King’s Cross to Euston Square and then from Euston Square to Trafalgar Square and then from Trafalgar Square to Heathrow Bus Station. This bus was super full most of the way to the airport. As the bus was travelling through Hounslow, a guy and his dog got on the back doors and went to speak to the driver, the driver told him to get off and he wouldn’t. The driver then closed the doors and the guy told the driver not to kidnap him and that if he tried to he would ‘shank him’.
We got to the bus station and I headed to find a seat where I could charge my phone and sit for an hour or so before security opened. I got through security and headed to the gate to wait for the boarding to start. We boarded and I had a window seat and a middle seat was free which was welcomed. We got to Munich and I had to change gates and had to take a train under the apron to the other side of the terminal. Munich airport is a big and spacious airport and a really nice and clean one too.
I found the gate we were departing from and just sat there and had some food and drink. I was also super tired and think I slept for maybe an hour. We boarded for Rio and I had a middle seat free again. It was nice to have the space as the Lufthansa layout was somewhat cramped.
I think I slept for about half the flight (a twelve-hour flight) and it was very much needed as I was super tired. As we were approaching Rio the pilot did say that there would be turbulence and bad weather. He was not wrong. It was the kind of turbulence where the plane drops and climbs. It happened like this for about an hour. We also flew through lightning. I couldn’t get any good videos of it as I couldn’t press my phone right up against the window. Grrr.
We finally landed and it seemed like a trek from the gate to immigration. I stopped to change SIM cards so I had data when I was there. I got through immigration and booked an Uber to the hostel.
I got there and checked in and dropped my stuff off and asked where there was a shop and an ATM so I could get food and money. Sadly there was neither. Luckily I had food I had brought with me and the hostel had water.
I went out for a walk and came back pretty quick as it was raining. I then decided to head to bed to get some much-needed sleep.
I didn’t have anything planned for today so I decided that I would just go and get on the metro and go for a wander around the city. I had asked at the hostel where I could buy souvenirs and they suggested I get off the metro in Uruguaiana and look at the market stalls there.
I went and got my cash out of the ATM first so that I would have some for my collection back at home. I did that and then headed to the metro and got a card that I could load with cash and then use to get through the barriers so I could travel around.
I got off where the people at the hostel suggested and it was super busy. So many people and so many stalls everywhere. That was cool though. I saw so many Brazilian flags and football shirts and scarves everywhere. It was pretty cool to see. I didn’t find any souvenir stalls so decided to have a look at the map but couldn’t find the one it said. I ended up at Largo de São Francisco and saw a church there and went inside. It was like no other church I have seen before. It was really ornate and massive inside. Definitely worth a visit.
I decided to sit outside in the sun and have a look at the map to find a souvenir stall. I found one and followed the map to the market stalls and found the shop. It was really cheap and had the souvenirs I would usually collect (magnet, lanyard [no flag though]). I got them and headed to some other souvenir places it had suggested and the last of the four was the only one that carried flags. I bought my flag and then headed towards the Metropolitan Cathedral.
On my way to the cathedral, I stopped by Tiradentes Square and had a look around there before heading to a hotel to powder my nose. Once I was done here I had a walk around and then headed towards the cathedral. As I was doing so, I walked past a tree and just after I got past a branch fell down that definitely would have done some damage.
I got to the cathedral and what a sight it was. It was like no other I have seen before. The structure of it was like a circular pyramid (I know that sounds strange) and was quite tall. In the background, you could see Christ the Redeemer on the mountain. I was in awe. I went into the cathedral and the magnificence of the structure inside was something to behold. It had 4 stained glass panels that led up to a glass cross in the roof. It was pretty cool to see.
Once I was done here, I wanted to go see the Carioca Viaduct. I went in the direction I thought the map said and it seemed like I wasn’t so turned around and then turned around again. I figured it didn’t really matter as I liked walking around and it got my step count up so I continued in the direction I originally started. It helped me to see what was around that I may have missed.
I got to the street that it said to turn down to get there and that was all painted along the walls and it was pretty cool. I could see the viaduct and it was pretty cool to see. A vast structure that now housed a tram line for the Santa Teresa trams. I managed to get a video of the tram going across. You can see that below.
Once I was done here, I went for a walk back to Tiradentes Square so I could get something to eat and drink before getting on the tram to see where it would take me. I sat in the square for about 30 minutes just watching the trams before getting on one. I was told to make sure I always checked in as they would do checks on your cards to make sure you had. Luckily for me, I did as they did a check. You can see one of the tram videos below.
I got the tram to Praça XV and just had a wander around here. I went onto a pier and I could see the runway for Santos Dumont airport and I watch a couple of planes take off. But for the lack of benches to sit on, I would have stayed here a while longer. I went and had a walk to an embassy I found on the map as I was really hungry. Once my belly was full I decided to have a walk along the tramway towards the hostel. It was a nice stroll. The weather was nice and it wasn’t super hot. The tramway had pedestrian zones along the length of it so I didn’t have to walk into traffic which was cool. I took a couple more videos of trams because, why not! You can see them below.
I walked to Cinelandia Square which had the gorgeous-looking Municipal Theatre and some busts and the Rio City Hall building. I also walked to what I thought were some gates to get into a park but it turns out they weren’t gates but part of the fence. That was ok though (even though I could feel a blister developing). I found where the gates were and said to myself that I would go back later (famous last words). I dropped my souvenirs off at the hostel and went on the metro to Largo do Machado to have a look around there and find some food. I found a church but there was a mass going on so I never went in and just went and got food instead and then headed back to the hostel for the night as I wanted to be up early to get the first of the Santa Teresa trams as I read they were very popular.
Total steps: 16,627
Total miles: 8.07
Below are some pics from today
I got back to the hostel from Sao Paulo late in the evening and I didn’t feel like doing anything. I also needed to pack for the flight home tomorrow. I also wanted to get the ferry and go to Paqueta Island and wanted to be on the ferry around nine so I could have about four hours on the island. That didn’t happen though because the idiot in the bed above me waltzed into the room around two in the morning and was loud. I may have sworn at them to shut up. When I had to get up I made sure I made as much noise as possible so they couldn’t get any decent sleep.
I slept in and got ready in time for check out and decided to head out on the metro for a couple of hours before going back to the hostel to pick up my stuff. It didn’t last more than an hour as I felt pretty sick so I went back to the hostel and sat there for a couple of hours then got an Uber to the airport and decided to just wait there for about six hours.
The check-in desks opened and I waited in the queue to see if I could get my bag checked in for free. The guy at the desk did it for me. He also told me as I had ‘PRE’ on my boarding card I was in the pre-boarding queue and would go on after the wheelchair users. This was valuable information that I could have used for Cairo and back and for the trip out here to Rio. I was going to definitely be using it to get on the plane first and get myself comfortable. I did exactly that. It was really good to be on before others.
I didn’t eat on the plane on the way home as I had asked for a special meal and they didn’t provide it (nor on the way out either). I think I slept for half of the flight again.
I was glad to be back in Munich as I knew it wasn’t much longer to be home. I had to go back through security in Munich. It is so bizarre that they do this when I have already been through security in Brazil. I was more annoyed as I had to leave my bottle of water and get rinsed on the other side of security for a bottle of water.
I got on the flight back to London and I was pleased to be back at Heathrow. I headed for the gates and the tube and the train back home. I was told I could use my ticket to get the next train back to Peterborough which meant I didn’t have to wait two hours.
I was so glad to be home to my own shower and my own bed.
DO RIO. It is totally worth it.
- Rio: 106,072
- Overall: 240,051
- Rio: 52.39
- Overall: 69.32
You can view all my Rio pics here