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By SUEP
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February 27, 2006 – A journey to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in South America


Rio De Janeiro, A Beautiful, Diverse City

One thing I love about Brazil, and you can really see it in Rio de Janeiro, is the diversity of the people. You see people of all colors, ethnicities, and backgrounds here, and they all seem to get along with each other well. In comparison, you see a lot of diversity in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I come from), but you don't see too much of the blending (and I don't mean genetically). I see a lot of racially segregated groups by choice there.

The city itself is physically diverse as well. You've got urban areas and suburbs surrounded my jungle, mountains, beaches, hills, and the sea.

We went to see Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Hill as well as to have a great view of the city of Rio. You can see the many differences I just described from that viewpoint.



a view of Rio from Corcovado Hill


So, is Rio really as dangerous as everyone says? If you've seen City of God (which shows only one area of Rio - mainly the favelas), you may never want to enter this city ever. But, I'd like to say no if you're not being stupid. Just as long as you stay alert (i.e., note where the policemen in uniform are or where you can go for help, don't wander into any rough looking neighborhoods, just like you wouldn't at home) and try to blend in with the crowd (e.g., don't bring a daypack with you, don't wear anything flashy like fancy jewelry and watches, keep some spending money separate from your wallet in a different pocket, don't bring any credit cards and large wads of money with you, etc.), you'll be fine. For instance, my brother's friend got his camera and wallet full of credit cards and money mugged by a friendly thief on Copacabana beach during last year's Carnaval season. Pretty much the whole time I was walking around in Rio, I only brought what I needed in terms of spending money for the day.

On Sundays, most shops close in Rio. Wandering around almost empty streets in the urban areas isn't too advised, even in Copacabana. But you can definitely walk around the beach areas as long as you feel that it's safe (i.e., you see enough people and policemen milling about).

I was surprised at how close some major attractions are. They actually have a biking/running road and pedestrian sidewalk along all of the beaches from Leme to Copacabana to Ipanema to Leblon. All of this is walkable. You can walk to Ipanema from Copacabana in 15 to 20 minutes. You can also walk to Sugar Loaf, another major tourist site where you can get a great view of Rio, from Copacabana in 15 to 20 minutes as well.



pedestrian sidewalk and biking/running street by the beach - the main larger street you see other people on was closed down for Carnaval


You can't walk, though, to Corcovado Hill where the famous huge Christ the Redeemer statue stands. You can get there in several ways. You can take a tour, which costs anywhere from 50 to 80 reals per person (roughly $25 to $40 USD per person) - note that tours can be bargained, especially at last minute. You can take the bus (a couple of bucks per person) and then take the cog train up for 36 reals round trip per person (around $18 USD per person). Or you can go by taxi, which is anywhere from 60 to 90 reals flat (about $30 to $45 USD total) plus a 5 real (around $2.50 USD) entrance fee that may or may not be included in the taxi ride. I suggest going by taxi, which works out even better economically if you have four people. Rick and I went by taxi since 1) a tour takes way too long because they need to pick up people from several hotels, and 2) it'd cost pretty much the same if we went by bus and cog train. We chose to go to Corcovado Hill over Sugar Loaf, because it is higher and has the famous Christ statue you see in every movie that has Rio in it.



Corcovado Hill with Christ the Redeemer ontop from afar


Christ the Redeemer from the foot


Again, I wasn't expecting too much from the beaches in Rio, as they are city beaches. But, again, I was blown away by how beautiful they are - soft, white sand with azure waters in Copacabana, and more soft, white sand with almost clear aqua-blue-green waters in Ipanema. The beach in Ipanema is much better and more tropical-looking. As for all those beautiful Brazilian women we keep hearing about, Rick and a few other guys we talked to, were a bit disappointed. I did see more physically nice-looking Brazilian guys though. Maybe there were more tourists at the beaches - heard that many Brazilians get out of Rio during the Carnaval season. But who cares anyway??



Copacabana Beach


Brazilians at the beach


clear aqua-blue-green water at Ipanema Beach


Ipanema Beach




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