Tag Archives: Rio de Janeiro

Preparing for Carnival

2 Mar

Two things have coincided heavily in Sao Paulo this week. The first is the fact that I have suddenly realised that I am off to Trindade for my proper holiday on Friday, and suddenly needing very much to get all my writing assignments in this week. Annoyingly Time Out have pulled in their deadline to early March for their April edition, which makes trying to find independent gigs to write about extremely tricky, and has also culminated in a deadline that ends with the carnival, which seems a ridiculous idea!

Thankfully this has also coincided with the return of bad weather in Sao Paulo. The weather has in fact been so bad as to be English. Instead of the normal sunny mornings, stormy afternoons and ridiculously warm nights we are simply getting drizzle 24/7. If I was just in Sao Paulo for a couple of days I would be pretty pissed off, and telling everyone I met not to come here, which I might do anyway.

On a productive note, an article I wrote a week or so ago has just gone online at Rio Times. You can read it HERE. Unsurprisingly the editor took away my criticisms of the Rio government for trying to stop anyone ever promoting something set in the favela, when they in fact should be promoting these very films. O Samba Que Mora Em Mim, the film I wrote about here, is one of the films, and lets you eavesdrop on all the amazing people living within the Mangueira favela in Rio. It’s one of the most arresting and visually appealing films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s just a shame the government only wants people to see the carnival queen!

Sao Paulo = Hell de Janeiro x 10

22 Feb

My friend Fabiola often refers to Rio as Hell De Janeiro, which seems a little unfair because it is pretty much the best place ever. And, aside from that, there are places where hell seems a lot more apt, and Sao Paulo is one of them. Or at least it is between the hours of 4pm and 6pm everyday when the heavens open and each gloriously sunny summer’s day seems like just a myth. I was in Rio on Saturday and that was the first day of my trip without rain. The six-hour bus journey was a joyous trip through sun-kissed mountains, and then we got to Sao Paulo. You could in fact see it in the distance; a dark, angry cloud hovering above our destination. As soon as we entered the bus terminal, which is on the city’s outskirts the rain started pouring down, huge rocks of water with odd bout of thunder and lightning in case you weren’t quite feeling the hellishness enough yet. It all reminded me why at 4 ‘o’ clock every afternoon, when I see the darkness circling, I run back to the hostel to hide for a few hours. It’s very possible that the huge amount of pizzas consumed every day could be related to this stormy predicament, but I don’t want to draw any conclusions just yet. It’s either that, or the unbelievable amounts of concrete, cars and heat that just cause some kind of unbearable tension to break in the atmosphere each day.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry In Rio

10 Nov

For those of you who know and love the ‘Marvellous City’, it may come as no surprise that it was recently voted the world’s happiest city in a survey conducted for and published by Forbes.com. Rio has an infectious energy, a buzz that imbues you with a feel-good vibe for weeks after you leave. Music and dancing plays a good part in that but happiness also comes from eating and drinking well, and Rio certainly has no shortages of fantastic eateries and bars that enable you to lead the good life. Discover the best that Rio has to offer and eat, drink and be merry!


One of Rio’s more affluent neighbourhoods, Leblon is home to some of Rio’s best restaurants and bars. This area is a foodie’s heaven but if your wallet doesn’t quite match your taste buds, most restaurants offer a lunchtime three-course, pre-fix menu for a fraction of the price that you will be charged at dinner. One of the best, both for the quality of the Italian/Brazilian fusion food and the stunning decor, not to mention the great people-watching potential (the patrons are made up of Rio’s young and beautiful), is Zuka. Either pre- or post-dinner, head on down to the Academia da Cachaça, a Leblon institution which sells 500 types of cachaça, a Brazillian rum made from sugar cane.

Leblon Beach[flickr size=”small”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosdamontanha/12637965/


The beach is lined with some of the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro and sun-worshippers and surfers flock to Ipanema at the weekend. There are plenty of eating and drinking options on the beach itself but you can’t visit Ipanema without having a drink in Bar Garota de Ipanema. In its previous incarnation as Vellosa Bar, ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ was penned here, hence the reason for its change of name. Once you’ve had a drink or two and hummed along to the classic bossa nova song, indulge in a Brazilian feast at Porcão, a traditional churrascaria where you can eat as much barbecued meat as you can fit in!


This district in the Centro neighbourhood houses some architecturally beautiful buildings dating back to the emergence of the republic but it’s when the sun goes down that the area really comes to life, for Lapa is also known for its nightlife. Clubs, bars and restaurants fill with the sounds of samba music but one of the best is surely Café Sacrilégio. Samba, choro, maxixe, waltz and polka beats are all played by the brilliant live band in this cafe housed in a renovated heritage building. Line your stomach and fuel up in preparation for all that dancing at Nova Capela, for some typical Carioca cuisine.

Rio is bursting with excellent places to chow down and drink up, whether you’re after something upmarket at a a Michelin star restaurant in a Rio de Janeiro hotel, or a simple salad and a Caipirinha at a beachfront cafe. Eat like a king, have a few drinks and pull on your dancing shoes to end the perfect Rio night with a spot of salsa.

Shooting envious glances across the Atlantic

6 May

I can’t help but find myself completely underwhelmed by election fever gripping Britain right now. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t believe that my vote makes a difference, it’s just that I can’t stop concentrating all my attention on foreign shores. Short-term plans to head to Europe are materialising but the real long-term goal is to return to Brazil. Although there are already signs that Brazil may be starting to change. The clean-up has started, as mentioned in the article ‘Brazil’s ‘Big Prostitute’ Banning Grilled Shrimp on Rio Beaches‘. No more grilled shrimp on the beach – too much risk. No more football either before 5pm (although they have already got around this by making up a new game called Foot Volley which is essentially kicky-uppy’s around a volleyball net). But no more caipirinhas on Copacabana beach, now that is a bit much! It’s a clean-up campaign to rival Giuliani’s. One of the main policy’s: to tell people that it is not alright to just piss wherever they want. Considering the various places where I’ve seen people unleash their hosepipe’s in Brazil this could be particularly tricky. The thing is I just can’t help but be jealous of all these going on’s.

However, I am not in Brazil, I am in Uttoxeter, and as some sort of tribute to this little place where I’ve spent a pretty huge portion of my life here is a little photo tribute.


The real picture I should be taking of course is the public toilet next to the bus station. Single-handedly the greatest public toilet I have ever been to. I just need to find a quiet moment. Coming soon…

Christ off the menu

14 Apr

More of an update on these mudslides I’m afraid since they are the main thing on my mind, Brazil-wise, at the moment.

Christ the Redeemer is currently unreachable by tourists as mudslides have affected the area all around it’s perch on Corcovado. The city are saying it could take up to six months to remove the debris and get access to Mr Redeemer going again. This seems like a ridiculously long time, especially considering every poster for Rio I see has a massive picture of Christ on it and a promise of the monumental Christ tour, meaning there will not be many dry gringo eyes in Rio for quite a while.

These are the some of the workers trying to clear the rail line which takes the people up to the top:

Brazil Flooding

I’m presuming the fact they are sitting around doing absolutely nothing has very little to do with the fact it will take six months.

The amount of deaths from the floods and mudslides is also now estimated at 230 people.

Raining in Rio (More mudslides!)

7 Apr

It does seem I may have picked the perfect moment to traverse oceans. England has been dry and calm over Easter weekend, only a cold wind to grumble about, but the bouts of sunshine have at least given the illusion that the tides are turning and that the snow which has been covering this place for the past three months and finally gone back to where it came from.

There’s certainly no possibility of using the words ‘dry’ and ‘calm’ in Rio de Janeiro right now. For the past few days there has been continual rainfall, of the tropical variety. I have just been reading some of the reports which are putting the death toll at a minimum of 72 people but most likely rising to over 100.

The majority of casualties have come from mudslides occurring all over the city (Rio’s hills are full of favelas and improvised housing), particularly in the Niteroi and Sao Goncalo areas. It’s the second time this year that such fateful mudslides have occurred. In January, at least 85 people died after a series of torrential rain.

Rainfall was 11 inches over two days starting on Monday afternoon. I have no idea how much rain this actually is, but it is some kind of record so must be a hell of a lot. More rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday.

It will be interesting to see how Rio deals with this event. They are one of the main cities for the 2014 World Cup and are also the hosts for the 2016 Olympics. I wouldn’t be surprised if it saw the Government step up the need to shift its poor citizens from their hill-based favelas to alternative housing. I almost feel certain this will happen in some way, though I would have major doubts over how they would find alternative housing for so many people. As well as causing so much disruption to the city (residents have been told to stay in their homes, children are not able to go to school), the rain has also caused some power shortages, especially in Barra da Tijuca where much of the Olympic activity will be taking place. As the first Olympics in South America there will be so much weight on Rio to excel as hosts and so I have no doubts they will take many proactive actions.

More links on the flooding:

Big Floods in Brazil (Euronet / 7th April 2010)
Flooding in Rio de Janeiro (BBC News / 7th April 2010)
April 2010 Rio de Janeiro floods and mudslides (Wikipedia)

Time and all that nonsense

22 Mar

Well I’m certainly not gonna make it sound like I’ve done much over the past week, seeing as I can’t even get my act together to write an entry on this blog. There’s just something about Trindade that makes the idea of sitting down at a computer for any length of time the worst idea in the world. The social cost is too great, not to mention the fact that I could be better spending time surfing, sitting on the beach, finding trails, following the river, listening to music, watching football, drinking beer, etc., etc. The distractions are too great!

That’s not to say there have been some glimpses of productivity though. I have cooked a number of meals, the last of which in exchange for a massage from two lovely swedish girls (an exchange which I believe will be fulfilled very soon) and discovered that we’re allowed to use the table football, pool table and table tennis in the guesthouse over the road (a realisation that has pretty much ruined any chance of me ever doing anything else).

The lesson here really is that Trindade is no place to come to stimulate the brain or achieve anything of note. It is the gateway onto a slippery slope of sweet bliss, which I have absolutely no qualms to be swinging my way down. Until I finally leave Trindade, which is a time getting closer and closer, this may well be my last update for a while!

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads

2 Mar

Not everything has gone to plan since arriving in Trindade. Two days of intense heat have been followed by five days of rain, power cuts and periods without water. This place really doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with any kind of storm. As soon as one comes it’s lights out for the rest of the day. One of the reasons I have been very quiet on this blog since I arrived. Sun has been forecast for Sunday. It really needs to show its face because at the moment people are getting to the hostel, staying for a day, getting really depressed by the incessant rain and then getting the hell out of here. Despite this though I can’t see myself leaving for a while. There’s something about this place, I can never get bored. I don’t think people realise that even when it’s raining you can still go for a swim in the sea or maraud up the river to the waterfall. They seem to prefer to head off to Rio or Sao Paulo, thinking that maybe that will bring better weather, not realising that the weather’s going to be the same but they are instead going to be stuck in a hostel for the duration of their stay.

A Deserting Carioca (A short stay in Petropolis)

1 Sep

No more cleaning, my time at the hostel is finally up. To be fair, I did very little cleaning, but any cleaning is too much I’m afraid. I decided the best place to go after spending a month on the beach was the mountains so headed to Petropolis. I arrived yesterday to find the only hostel in town had been closed, meaning I would probably have to spend more than I wanted. I tried to find a couchsurfer here too but out of the four that live here only one replied, and he was out of town on business. I eventually managed to find a 93-year old German Brazilian who owned an Inn. We watched the US Open and I found out about skin diving (apparently doing this with an aqualung is just plain cheating) until his receptionist turned up. It turned out that the old man had told me the price was R$99, I thought he said $29. This was just too high to even begin to find a compromise so I moved on, feeling slightly gutted that I wouldn’t get to see his skin diving photos. No-one in town could recommend anywhere even close to the R$30 I wanted to pay so in the end I had to make a sacrifice. The cheapest place I could find was R$88. I managed to barter him down to R$66 which we shook hands on, though afterwards he tried to explain to me that 66 is basically the same as 70 so I might as well just pay R$70 yeah. No way! It’s twice what I wanted to pay but I figure after not having to spend a penny on accommodation for five weeks, and also having access to a swimming pool, amazing breakfast and general swankiness I can’t complain too much.

By the prices of the hotels here it seems that Petropolis is very much a place for the Cariocas of Rio to come and spend their money when they feel the need for a break from the beach. It is certainly a grandiloquent place to come, full of palaces and regal glamour. Santos Dumont, who I believe was one of the first people to fly came from here, as did some of the old Brazilian royalty. For me, it’s again just a huge reminder how big the gap is between the rich and poor in Rio, or even the gap between middle class and poor. You’re looking at middle class people earning at least 3 or 4 times as much money as those on the lowest paid jobs.


Talking Havana have a banana

30 Jul

I’m back in Rio, working in a hostel in Copacabana. It rains here, it rains ALL the time. I think England has a bad name.

My laptop is now fixed, but I’m beginning to think that thing was a curse. It felt pretty good the week it was broken, no need to think about work or getting anything done. I spent time with friends, on the beach, in hostels, in bars, I played guitar, and I read books. Plenty of them! And all of them, pretty special in their own way.

After reading The Aleph I now understand why Jorge Luis Borges is regarded as one of the greats. No-one writes about Life and Death like him; immortality, mythology, identity, is all documented here in astonishing brevity. The Zahir is my personal favourite from this book. To anyone who has ever played The Game, herein lies its secret.

Darkness At Noon (Arthur Koestler) is set behind the Iron Curtain. Rubashov has been arrested for political divergences and is slowly being worn down by the Government and the guards into pleading guilty to the crimes of which he did not commit. Ah, the joys of Communist Russia! But this book is ridiculously easy to read. The whole thing is set in Rubashov´s prison cell with his remembrances of the events leading up to his arrest the only divergences. It’s the writing of his mental condition as he constantly searches for the ethics behind the regime and his previous actions, and then trying to make peace with himself, which make this book so great.

I also read a collection of Luc Sante‘s writings (Kill All Your Darlings) for the New York Review and Village Voice among others (his piece on the blues, The Invention of the Blues, is surely one of the greatest pieces ever written on early blues) and Khaled Hosseini‘s Thousand Splendid Suns (a decent story made even more interesting by its backdrop in Afghanistan, and how its politics have evolved over the previous 30 years).

The hostel is 4 blocks from the beach. So far, I haven’t been in the sea once. Manilow never mentioned the rain.