Of all the Brazilian cities, Rio is by far my favorite. The colorful mountainous town is like a another country within a country.
Originally bused from the border to Saõ Paulo, where we arrived in the second largest bus terminal in the world, first being Port Authority. The air smelled of trash and urine as we took a taxi toward our hostel. The Portuguese sounded more like Dutch than Spanish and provided a huge language barrier.
Walked around the city for two days visiting museums and various coffee shops. The coffee is indeed more strong than in Argentina, but nobody has mastered the art of steamed milk. Despite the coffee I must admit this city did not call to me. It was the business capital of Brazil and felt too cold and stuffy.
The Municple court in the heart of the old city has the largest rooftop garden in all of South America. It also has the weirdest process to visit this garden. We spent two days of broken English to finally understand you have to book a tour (only three a day) and wait an hour prior before a registered city guide and two security guards can escort you up. Even the employees in this large 14 story building cannot access the roof! Having four failed attempts we were beginning to think the garden didn’t want us to go up until we squeezed into the last possible 8 person tour we could get into.
Eagerly took a night bus over to Rio de Janeiro where I immediately felt the weight of misery from lift a bit the second I viewed the mountains. The scenery alone is breathtaking, but there is something to be said about the people. They are all so bubbly and welcome you with open arms, not to mention have taken the time to pick up English so it is far less complicated ordering a basic dish.
Spent four glorious days island hopping and hiking through their national park. We were first at the top of Christ the redeemer, which was magnificent for a good two minutes until buses of people infested the area. The panoramic views were almost fake a no the city reminded me of Wellington, NZ where it was a much smaller city surrounded by mountains and greenery.
Took a boat in the colorful small town of Angra where we were able to stop off on various small islands. Even got in the water filly with hundreds of striped yellow fish! Spent our last day attempting to avoid the heavy pours of rain. Went to this really cool interactive museum called the Museum of Tomorrow, which basically educates human impact on the environment and how to lower our carbon footprint.
Spent the afternoon wondering around Sugerloaf mountain where I assume they transported sugar in the late 1800s. It was so cool riding the gondola toward the second mountain as rain thrashed against our window. The view was also grand at the top, and we were lucky to get the five minutes of clarity until the next cloud storm passed overhead.
Soaked from the rain, we cancelled birthday dinner plans and spent the night watching movies over room service. We had our fill of moqueca, caipirinhas and pão de queijo to last us another decade at least.