I was both nervous and excited about going to Rio. I had heard lots of horror stories about thefts and even kidnappings! Plus Agnes’ friends had booked a hostel for us and I was not sure what to expect from this new travel experience.
I arrived at the hostel at 7am on Saturday morning and got my first view of Copacabana Beach as the sun came up. It was a long stretch of beautiful beach with the glowing red sun rising over the water. The hostel was in a great location, 3 blocks from the beach, but it was very basic. My private room actually kind of felt like a coffin since it had no windows, fan or air! They only run the AC from 10 am to 10 pm. I tried to take a nap at 2 and almost passed out. I talked to the staff and they agreed to keep my a/c running all day since I had no windows.
On the up side, hostels are a great way to meet fabulous people. As soon as I got there, I met Michaela from Switzerland and Andreas from Argentina. They were both wonderful and easy to talk to. We hung out on the beach for the day until our room was ready at 2. Agnes’ friend, Patricia, met us and we immediately hit it off. Unfortunately, Kim and Barbara got stuck at the airport so they didn’t get into Rio until much later in the evening.
Carnival was the week before but we were excited to find out that the finale called The Parade of the Champions was taking place that night. It takes place at the Sambadrome that holds 60,000 people. We saw the best of the colourful carnival floats which have 90 minutes to parade from one end of the stadium to the other. My favourite was a white and gold one with a human carousel. Yep, there were people hanging from the carousel, doing acrobats as it spin around! It was definitely the highlight of the night.
We went back to the hostel and met up with Kim and Barbara. I was tired but it was Saturday night in Rio so we all went out. What an adventure! We started out in Lapa where there are bars and people party in the streets. We were harassed so much that we left within 15 minutes. It was probably a good thing because everyone we talked to who had partied in Lapa had been robbed in Lapa!
Next, we went to a Copacabana beach bar that was packed. It was a pretty eclectic crowd of all ages and I was happy to relax and have a drink. Then Kim said “something is not right here”. Sure enough, our waiter confirmed that we were surrounded by ladies of the night and many tourists looking for a good time! We finished our drinks and quickly left. We tried another couple of spots but ended up back at our hostel which turned out to be the best party place! We met a lot of great people from Argentina, Canada, Australia and Holland.