After flying long haul from LHR, Mark and I had just three full days in Rio de Janeiro before we headed off to Salvador, Brazil’s former capital in the north east of the country, in time for Carnaval.
In those three days we had just one brief afternoon of the glorious blue skies and scorching heat we dreamt of to keep us going through a dreary, grey, rainy British winter. The rest of the time we experienced a dreary, grey, rainy Brazilian summer.
Sorry to be so British and harp on about the weather, but it really showed how something as simple as rain or shine can set the tone for a whole city. Gloomy drizzle seemed to turn the bright, upbeat attitude of typical “Cariocas” down a notch. People make fun of Brits for whipping off their tops and dusting off the barbecues as soon as the clouds part but I’m sure most cultures would be the same if they battled with that climate. Conversely, Ipanema beach was deserted at the first sign of less than perfect weather and the volleyball-playing body beautiful crowds returned as soon as it was restored.
Luckily the vivid colours of Escadariade Selarón are vibrant even under clouds. A Chilean artist has covered around 215 steps with thousands of tiles from around the world, including Kazakhstan evidently. Niiiiice!
Many of Rio’s sights depend on clear weather to ensure the famous views are at their most stunning. Unfortunately, this was our view from the top of Corcovado, home of the iconic Christ the Redeemer:
(The map in the foreground helpfully shows us what we should have been looking at. Ha bloody ha.)
We fared a bit better from the top of Pão de Açúcar, Sugar Loaf – no pink and orange sunset but when the sky darkened, the lights from the city below gradually flickered on, twinkling prettily:
Mark made a friend
Best of all was where we found ourselves during the few hours of bright sunshine and blue skies, the top of the Vidigal favela above Ipanema beach. This favela has been pacified so it was very safe to visit – although the motorbike taxis to get us to the top and back down again, not so much…)
And the paradisiacal Jardim Botanico, where I embraced my inner hippy and hugged a vast tree:
We will probably return to Rio in a few weeks to experience more than just three days of such a unique city – and will hopefully get a chance to revisit some of the sights in perfect conditions.
For now we are looking forward to an amazing Carnaval in Salvador – we found out that Psy is in town so we will be doing the Gangnam Style dance with a few hundred thousand others on the beach front tomorrow – YES!!
(Note: after much debate, we decided Salvador would be the setting for our first ever Brazilian Carnaval experience; the more laid back, street party spirit of celebrations in the Bahia region had more appeal than the expensive and enclosed Sambadromo in Rio – although one day a return visit to experience both is a must! We arrived in Salvador yesterday – update to come soon.)