Ola! Bom dia Rio!
That was fast. Flying 220 miles from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro via LATAM Airlines was a breeze. The sad thing was I never get to feel and see what it’s like to fly in broad daylight in Brazil as I immediately fell asleep even before the plane took off from the São Paulo–Congonhas Airport. I was that dead tired.
The next thing I know our fellow passengers removed their seat belts and started heading towards the plane’s exit door.
Once we collected our luggage, we headed for the bus exit. It seemed that Uber is not allowed inside the airport. We know that there are cheap car rentals in Rio de Janeiro but we want to experience travelling like a local so we decided to take the public bus.
The Rio de Janeiro International Airport is massive. It has a lot of space in it. Navigating the airport is quite easy. And it was a good thing that the airport was not packed when we arrived.
Before we left the airport, and I guess due to mild paranoia, we had to write the map of our hotel on a piece of paper. We need to avoid flashing our phones in broad daylight and attract would-be snatchers or robbers while we look for our hotel. Drawing our hotel’s street map was the safer option.
The struggle with travelling to a non-English country is it is hard to communicate with people. Despite English showing all over the airport sign boards, we still had trouble locating where to ride a bus to the city.
We decided to leave the arrival hall when we saw what looked like a bus station across the street. But getting past the turnstile of that mini bus booth was a challenge. I think we had to buy a card or something to get to that booth. There was little information available. And when we asked for help, we got lost in translation.
I think they were telling us to go back to get a ticket for that bus so we went inside and attempted to line up at a bus booth only to be told that we only need to ride a bus parked at one of the arrival hall’s exit. It took us more than an hour to leave the airport because of this dilemma. I wished we just booked one of those cheap car rentals in Rio de Janeiro Airport to make things easy.
When we finally figured out what bus to ride, we hopped in and enjoyed the almost 2 hours bus ride to reach the downtown area of Rio de Janeiro.
It was raining when we arrived in Rio. But unlike cold Sao Paulo, Rio’s weather was similar to the weather in the Philippines, only cooler by a few degrees.
M took charge of booking a place for our stay and he found a beautiful hotel at the heart of Lapa where the famous Escadaria Selarón is located. Lapa is also home to historical monuments and has one of the best night scenes in the city. Of course I didn’t know this bit of information. I would only find out about this when we reached our home in Rio de Janeiro.
Once we left the airport, I expected for congested roads knowing that Brazil is also famous for their heavy flow of traffic. But the traffic was manageable. Our bus ride gave us the opportunity to get a glimpse of what Rio looks like.
There are old art deco buildings everywhere and they looked so beautiful. The only sad part about it is that majority are no longer in use. It’s such a pity to see these buildings go to waste.
There are also old buildings sandwiched in between churches. There are some buildings that are still being used but if you look at it from a distance, you’d think that they’re waiting to be demolished.
One more thing I noticed in Rio is that there are so many vandals on structures and buildings.
There are even vandals on the tallest part of a bridge or a skyway that it made me wonder if the people of Rio have Spiderman’s superpowers to climb those elevated areas to vandalize. I later learned that the mobs or gangs in the area are responsible for placing those.
Although graffitis add character to a city, I think, vandalism is a different thing and my wish is for Rio to be rid of those in the future.
We also passed by the warehouse where they keep the floats they use for the carnaval. Seeing those float makes me think how fun it must be to witness the Rio Carnival. When you happen to visit Rio and ride a bus going to the city, be sure to pay attention to a warehouse area and widen your eyes to see these carnival floats.
I knew we were nearing the city proper when I saw a huge circular pyramid. I didn’t have a clue what it was at first. I thought it was one of the city’s cultural centers as inspired by the Mayan civilization or something. Later on, I learned that that structure houses the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and it was a part of the places we will visit for the Rio de Janeiro Day Tour we booked.
The streets of Rio are empty it makes me wonder where did all the people go. Perhaps they’re at the beaches?
It was a good thing M was paying attention to where we were for he suddenly interrupted my fascination with the sight-seeing when he announced we’ve reached our destination. We hurriedly asked the bus driver to stop the bus. Despite the language barrier, he complied and stopped the bus. I don’t even think it was an official bus stop where he dropped us off.
The place where we alighted looked like a big park. There were beautiful buildings surrounding it. I could see the Carioca Aqueduct in front of us and was so tempted to take my phone out for a photo but didn’t. But I had to stop for this colorful building though. It was so pretty.
Using the hand written map M drew, we followed the road signs to find our hotel. There was a group of young men playing basketball after we passed the Arcos da Lapa and they all looked at us intently as if we’re some alien that landed on their neighborhood. Their stares really looked intimidating. Pulling my luggage behind, I walked like I was on a marathon, never looking at them as I was somewhat scared we’d get robbed. Yeah. Me and my worries. But I wasn’t paranoid at that point yet. I was just extra cautious. Once we passed by the basketball court, and after a few rows of buildings, we reached the end of the street. Then M saw our hotel.
At last. We finally reached our home in Rio. Safe and sound.