The city of God

And so we’ve arrived in Rio, and it is every bit as spectacular as we imagined. We began our stay in the city with a street party and live music in the Lapa district, and spent the next day recovering on the beautiful beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema (where we watched a spectacular sunset, with the locals cheering and clapping after the sun disappeared). We also did a walkabout around the centre – and visited many historic churches and cloisters, a few of them lavishly decorated with gold! – and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city from the Pao de Acucar and Corcovado, where the famous statue of Christo Redentor stands.

The city is very busy, full of people and buzzing with activity, which made us think of London, New York or Sydney. As in any big city, there are some very visible social contrasts, with very rich people living next to very poor ones, although this is more obvious and more pronounced here. There is a very heave police presence in the city, much heavier than, say, in Europe (not to mention Australia). On our first night, it seemed like they expected some kind of trouble (it was Independence Day here) as there were literally hundreds of police officers in the streets, some of whom were wearing bullet-proof kevlar vests and carrying machine guns or shotguns, and several police helicopters hovered over our heads… The locals seem to hardly notice the police though, and once you get used to them, you too start ignoring their presence. Overall, the city feels vibrant but safe. We get around using public transport and walk around at night without any problems.

Overall, we’re having a great time here. The weather’s been fantastic – about 28C and sunny during the day and 20C at night. There are lots of nice cafes and bars around the city, including our favourite – little juice bars which can be found on almost every corner, selling freshly baked pastries and offering a list of freshly squeezed juice that is so long and so full of exotic fruits that it makes your head spin…Nothing lasts forever though and our time in Rio is almost up…Still, we decided to stay for an extra day when we discovered that flights to our next destination, Campo Grande in South-Western Brazil, cost exactly the same as a bus ride, saving us 20 hours travel time! So instead of bracing ourselves for 24 hours on the bus, we can relax and enjoy our last day in this beautiful city – hope you can enjoy it a bit with us by looking at the pictures below…

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