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Rio de Janeiro - a bittersweet mix - from helicopter views to biggest "favela" in Latin Am

On the North side of the city, at the former port area, close to the centre, are the Museum of Tomorrow and the Olympic Boulevard (Mauá Square). It is easy and safe to get there by metro (at least from Ipanema). There we found a weekend gastronomic market, dedicated to the Brazilian-French partnership. I was even interviewed by a Brazilian tv but the champaign was not very helpful when it came to remember the name of the channel. Anyway, it was a nice and fresh experience, as the day was super humid and hot.

In the same area is Eduardo Kobra's 190-meter-long graffiti wall - attempting to set the world record for the largest mural painted by a single person. Reaching a total height of 15,5 meters and measuring an area of almost 3,000 square meters, the work illustrates five faces from five continents - responding to the olympic rings.

Heading South, crossing the centre, are the neighbourhoods Santa Teresa and Lapa, connected by the famous Selarón Steps. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as "My tribute to the Brazilian people". On the higher part of the steps (Santa Teresa neighbourhood) is calmer and you can enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of each tile.

While on the lower side (Lapa neighbourhood) you can party even at noon.

Actually, exactly Lapa is the nightlife heart of Rio. Here salsa is played and danced everywhere. But don't go out of the main street!

Also here is the well known hall Circo Voador.

The beautiful Carioca Aqueduct (also known as Lapa's Arcs) was built in the middle 18th century to bring fresh water from the Carioca river to the population of the city. Nowadays there is a tram passing on top of it. On Sundays there is a craft market happening on the square under the arcs. On the same place, after the night falls down, on weekends there are many food carts offering a diversity of typical Brazilian fast food options.

The last thing we did in Rio was to visit Favela de Rocinha - biggest "favela" in whole Latin America. More than 200,000 people live here. It is also considered the richest one, because of its location - there are luxurious neighbourhood on its both sides. Other two sides are taken by the Tijuca forest.

It was curious to find out that life in a favela is actually not so cheap as I thought. People who live here most of the time pay rents very similar to the ones in Copacabana, for example. The difference is that in "favela" people pay only "social fees" for electricity and water, and not what they really consume. Also, as Rocinha is surrounded by luxurious neighbourhoods, it is easy for people to find jobs close to home and not spend money and time on transportation.

Today, most of favelas in Rio as quite peaceful. Only in Rocinha 700 military officers are in charge to maintain the peace. Although, we did our tour with a guide, it is possible to go by yourself, but be careful.

On our way back we passed through the Tijuca forest. Once it was all coffee and sugar fields and today is one of the World's biggest urban rainforests. Replanting was carried between 1861 and 1888 in a successful effort to protect Rio's water supply. Tijuca forest offers many options to spend a fresh day outside the city but still enjoying its views - there are hiking trails, picnic areas and even museums.

Thank you Rio, for your diversity and breathtaking views!


If you decide to visit a "favela" by yourself remember:

- Never go out of the main street!

- In case you get lost and meet people who you were not supposed to meet - try to stay calm and explain you are just a lost tourist. Do not run!

If you'd like to spend some days at the beach Búzios is a great option. It is easy to get there by bus (between 2,5 to 4 hours depending on traffic and weather conditions).


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