The final destination in our tour of Argentina and Brazil was Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately due to some timing constraints on our flights (we have to leave South America by a certain date because of our round the world ticket and Christmas availability), we only had one night in Rio before we needed to hop on our flight to Quito.
Well, I say one night, but really there wasn’t much sleep involved because our taxi to the airport picked us up at 4am and we ended up out with the group until about 2am!
Given we didn’t have much time, we had the option between a slightly rushed city tour or alternatively a little bit of time exploring around the hotel and heading to the Maracana for a football game in the evening. No prizes for guessing where my vote went!
The journey to Rio was relatively straight forward with a ferry back from Ilha Grande and then a bus up to Rio. It was really cool as we drove into Rio to start to see some of the landscape which is so synonymous with the city. It was also quite telling that Rio is quite an edgy place when two trucks with armed policeman sat in the back drove past us in the traffic jam into the city.
The hotel we had was three blocks back from Copa Cabana beach and was actually really nice (albeit with one slight bugbear noted below). We dropped our bags and once a few of the guys who were heading off on the city tour were safely dispatched, we headed out on a quick walk to see Copa Cabana beach and grab some lunch – strangely a pizza which had a wrap as the base rather than dough and came with broccoli and carrot on the top, a surprisingly appetising combination.
We were picked up from our hotel and driven up to the Maracana for the game between the home team, Flamengo and a team from further down the country called Atletico Paranaense (Atletico PR). The minibus took us past the Lagoa (scene of British Rowing’s triumphs in 2016) and onto the Maracana with a short stop-off to pick up the obligatory fake Flamengo shirt. The game itself was a bit of a dead rubber with the league title already decided (see below for the highlights – three goals, two red cards!) but the stadium itself is stunning. With no away fans the atmosphere was a bit strange but really electric. Having said the match was a dead rubber, it didn’t stop 67,000 spectators turning up and partying for the full 90 minutes! It’s quite an interesting setup with sellers walking around the seats throughout the game and despite the stadium nominally being all-seater, seats are ignored and everyone just stands anywhere they like!
Highlights of the match we saw in case you’re interested!
Rio was part of our G Adventures tour so the accommodation was sorted for us. We stayed at the Royalty Rio hotel a couple of blocks back from Copa Cabana which was really good location wise and the rooms were great. The only frustration I had was that we were charged for the water in the room even though there was no price-list and it looked like it was free.
Our trip to the Maracana was organised by G Adventures but delivered by Be A Local. It was great to get to the game but the organisation wasn’t amazing for the price we paid. There’s probably better ways to organise this.