I checked into the 3rd hotel today (as once again the price of a room in my 2nd hotel had gone up considerably!). This new place is even cheaper than the last. If I keep going at this rate I'll eventually find one for free!
It's in a decidely seedy non-touristy part of the city (Cinelandia) where government buildings are housed beside huge porno theatres, and dodgy folk of all persuasions are laying about ready to pounce at the first Real they see fall out of my pocket, plus the staff are rude, but it'll do as the final place for planning the rest of my trip as the Internet is free here too.
A saving grace is a rather awesome view of the impressive Pao do Asucar (Sugar Loaf mountain) from my 15th floor room.
So I've planned the next 2-4 weeks... all the hard work (and downloading of Lonely Planet guides) paid off! The plan is to take a flight to the colonial gem "Salvador" tomorrow night, stay there for 3-4 days, then fly up to Fortaleza where I take a bus up to the remote Equatorial beaches of Jericoacoara for a week of kite-surfing (as long as the weather stays fine that is... it's apparently rainy season in the Amazon now). Then for February I might try to check out Manaus for Amazon river trips, before heading to Olinda for the "most authentic take on Carnival". After that I'll be leaving Brazil around the 14th Feb and after that is still open season decision-wise.
I'll be flying to these places as Brazil is huge! I could go the economical route of bussing up to Salvador, but it's a 30 hour trip! No thank ye senor!
I like my comforts these days... not to mention the flights are only costing around 130 euro each.
Now I couldn't exactly leave Rio without seeing a least some of the major sights, so as my flight tomorrow is leaving at 10pm, I'm going to try to cram in Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain.
I would have preferred to minimise the risk of getting lost by taking one of the organised tours, but when I enquired with the girl downstairs where the "Oficina do Tourismo" was, she stared at me blankly like a slack-jawed yokel. Apparently the only tourist offices in the city are around the beach areas, so I'll have to take a gamble and negotiate the metro (which is apparently safer than the buses) and... er.. the buses. Time to don my patented shorts with zip-lock pockets.
Talking of robbery in Rio, many people I had met before the trip or items I had read on the web pointed out that getting robbed was a sure-thing. The only question was how much would be stolen.
There is a 200m tunnel beside the second hotel I stayed at in Copacobana where cars drive through and pedestrians walk on the side. Directly on the other side is the flashy Rio Sul shopping centre. Now apparently when a tourist walks through this tunnel, some keen-eyed kids up in the favela overlooking it whistle to their mates to get down and meet you on the other side, knife/gun at the ready.
Like, it was a 5 minute walk from my hotel to Rio Sul.
Yet, the hotel insisted I take a 20 second taxi ride through the tunnel (which would set you back about 2 euro). OK fair enough I thought. So off with my watch, and off with my kiwi necklace and I get the taxi ride. On the way back to the hotel, I assumed the taxi ride would be about the same time. Alas no. Whatever way the road system was setup, it took 15 minutes and 10 euro to get back!! I think I see where the robbery is really taking place here!
The same hotel even tried to get me to pay a taxi driver a fixed fee of 30 Real to take me over to this hotel... I said "No, I want to use the meter" and the final price was 18 Real. Word of warning: ALWAYS ASK TO USE THE METER. It worked in Bangkok, it works here!
Fast food, Brazillian...
So I'm going to assume the paranoia that people have about Rio is slightly unwarranted, and it's probably a cunning ruse to extort money from worried tourists, getting them to take taxis everywhere instead of the metro, walking, etc, for "safety concerns"
I'll find out tomorrow anyway.
And for Mum, here's a pic of the delicious Açaí berry smoothie and Fillet Mignon sandwhich. Mum's crazy about Açaí berries, and Brazillians seem to be crazy about Fillet Mignon... cures what ailes ya (which at the moment is a bunged up feeling from drinking all the hard water... hmmm feels like the Africa trip all over!)