7– 11 September 2016
Travellingross Rating: 8 out of 10
Rio de Janeiro is a mega city of the world that I have wanted to see for a while. Having visited iconic cities across the world I was keen to compare. About an hour from the airport to my small Copacabana Airbnb apartment and it was time for dinner. Having read multiple stories of theft, muggings and violence, I was prepared to get robbed so I had a decoy wallet and minimal belongings on my person. But I found the neighborhood around my place fine although full of graffiti. Well, like any city with a few questionable characters and back lanes you wouldn’t walk down in broad daylight let alone after dark. And it’s dark by 6pm.
The beach is as expected – mammoth, crowded and scenic. The weather for most days was cloudy, and I spent the best part of a day venturing to Barra to collect my Paralympic tickets. I like how there are bars/food places right on the beach edge and they make use of all the sand for beach volleyball and other activities. And the sand is so soft.
The main activity for me in Rio was the Paralympics – I bought tickets to athletics, track cycling and swimming all for $60! Here are some random highlights and observations that I noted at the time:
Athletics was at the Olympic stadium and had events going on everywhere you look and takes a while to work out. Great seats just left of the track finish line. One woman from Mali led all the way in the 1500m but then dropped back in the last lap and almost gave up but the crowd cheered for her and she picked up her head and finished the race. Inspiring.
Track cycling was at the Olympic Park (which seriously lacked shade) and was cool to see but repetitive watching heat after heat of 4000m. I thought there would be a variety of categories competing but I guess from a scheduling perspective it is sensible to not do this. Watching cyclists with 1 leg is incredible and makes me never want to complain about exercise again! Swimming was also at the Olympic Park and I had great seats right above the media where the medalists came by for a photo call.
Random observations: Brazilians say coca, not coke or cola. Lots and lots of people with bracers.
The journey to visit Christ the Redeemer statue took all afternoon and had line after line after line. I’m not sure if this is everyday or because it was a Sunday and the first clear weather in 4 days. As I waited literally hours I kept thinking to myself that this better be worth it. Thankfully it was. Fantastic views, iconic statue, and watching people be fools trying to get the best selfie. It was packed. Having accomplished this, I rewarded myself with a night out in Ipanema before a morning flight to Salvador.