After a bit of a grey week, wall to wall sunshine on a Sunday can mean only one thing: a day at the beach. It’s great how quickly I’ve become a regular at my particular part of the Copacabana. My chair guy waves to me as I stand waiting to cross the road and my lounger is waiting for me by the time the lights turn red. At around £1 for a days rental, plus £1 for my chilled fresh coconut, a day at the beach is very inexpensive. No sooner am I comfortable in my spot, than the beach vendors approach. I am constantly amazed at the selection of items for sale. All of the usual beach paraphernalia – glasses, hats, sarongs, jewellery, swimwear – plus selfie sticks, paintings, whistles, T-shirts, bags and even rugs. Even more amazing is the vast selection of food and drink – pies, pasties, trays of watermelon, crisps, nuts, prawn skewers, beer, cocktails, sandwiches, ice cream, acai – and even guys dragging around small charcoal BBQs to grill cheese kebabs. Everyone approaches and everyone moves along if you are not interested. It’s very polite and very friendly and that’s because people do buy and the vendors make sales and it all just works without being pushy.
Pies and pasties, it seems, are a main stay of Brazilian cuisine. I had no idea! Before arriving here I imagined that I’d find lots of fantastic tropical fruit, which is certainly the case, and plenty of places serving grilled meat in all its forms: also true. But it seems I have landed in pie and pastie heaven with every conceivable variation available morning, noon and night.
The last few days have been completely crazy. I have moved from the sanctity of my lovely hotel in the more genteel area of Santa Teresa and into a shared flat situated slap bang in the middle of ‘party central’ in Copacabana. Now I’m beginning to feeling like a true Carioca; one however, who doesn’t speak a word of Portuguese and still finds it hard not to gawp when looking up and seeing Christ the Redeemer staring back.
I have one last day of being solo and a tourist, before my flat mates arrive and we being our volunteer programme, so I so decide to spend time in the areas of Jardin Botanico and Leblon. Read more
Day 3 in Rio, the sun is out and it’s a wonderful 27 degrees. I’m on my own today and as I’m still at that difficult stage where I’m paying for everything with 100 real notes (£20) and carrying hundreds of reals with me in ‘case of emergency’, I decide to stay local and explore Santa Teresa. This area of Rio reminds me a lot of the villages of the Cote d’Azur in France, such as Menton and St Paul De Vence. Perched on the top of a hill, it’s famous for its winding, cobbled streets which are a favourite spot for artists and tourists, and the fabulous views that can be seen around every corner. Read more