8 Jan 2008

Celebrating NYE on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

Posted by walterheck

Where to start on telling you about Rio? I don’t even know for sure whether or not i liked it. The city itself is nice, but when people start telling me things like “the biggest problem in Rio is not the muggings, it’s the shootings” and “when I ride a city bus, I always sit on an isle seat so that when a shooting occurs, I will not be the first person to get hit” I get a little nervous. Especially because I just like to wander around a city and see how people live and what they do in their everyday lives. And then today, one of teh headlines in the newspapers read: armed bandits carjack a car every 12 minutes in Rio. Just let that sink in for a bit: every 12 minutes, someone is forced out of their car at gunpoint! Imagine how safe I felt?

Still, nothing bad happened to me, although my two slovenian roommates got mugged in broad daylight 50 meters from a subway station near maracana stadium (see, football sucks 😉 ). Anyway, let’s stop ranting and start at the beginning 🙂

As I might have told you (I kinda lose track of what i did and did not tell you guys) I was almost not going to Rio because I couldn’t find a couch and I was not prepared to pay ridiculous amounts of money for a hostel. Luckily, in the last week before NYE, an hostel known as the Art hostel made a special offer for surfers that made it possible to go there. I ended up paying around 80 EUR for 7 nights, which is not too bad considering the city and the time of the year.

After christmas, I took a bus from Sao Paolo that drove me to Rio in 6,5 hours. I was surprised that even on this road there are parts where the bus has to go from left to right to avoid holes in the road as this must be one of the busiest roads in the country. As was the case previously, the scenery was amazing! Right before entering the city, there is a huge descent spanning multiple valleys. Because of the landscape, there is one road leading to Rio on one side of the valley and another leading from Rio on the other side. These roads are full of traffic and a _lot_ of bends.

Afetr arriving to Rio I took a taxi to the hostel because I didn’t feel very safe. Turns out that instead of paying 20 reais for a taxi I could have just walked around the corner tothe local bus station and taken a bus for 2,10 reais right to the hostel. Thank you tourism industry for getting that money from me 🙂

The hostel was really nice and I met a lot of cool people, most of them surfers or aspiring surfers. The days leading up to NYE I spent mostly relaxing on Ipanema beach, going up to the world famous christ statue, the regular stuff 😉

Than, on the day before NYE we had a couchsurfing party at the hostel. The result of which you can see in the gallery (yes, the pics were there before the story 😉 ). A big party, very nice. Until some stupid argentinian fell through the bar after falling down dancing on the bar (with two hot girls, dat dan weer wel ;)). The guy went to the hospital and that kind of ended the party. The worst thing is that he didn’t even offer to pay for the bar later, which is totally not the way couchsurfing is supposed to work. I really feel bad about that!

And then it was time for the big day! After getting to know some people the night before, and already hanging out with my slovenian roommates for a few days I decided to stick with them. One of the problems is that since 2 million people are coming to the beach, the city sells subway tickets in advance in timeslots. So you have to decide in advance at what time you want to go to the beach (subway really is your only good option). Me as a european thought to be smart and go prepared so I bought my ticket days in advance for 20.00-21.00. Of course I was the only one to do so, so the rest paid some weird guy to get tickets and he brought back tickets for 23.00-0.00 (dangerously late and asking to miss the fireworks). Some others had tickets for soem other times, so we had a problem. We decided the best solution was to go to the beach before the timeslots would start, so me, the two slovenians and three french guys decide to go early. We just chilled, walked from Copacabana to Ipanema and back, watched the sunset on the rocks between those two beaches (people start cheering and applauding when the sun sets), the frencies picked up some girls and finally we all met at one of the posts on Copacabana. When midnight came closer, we moved onto the beach (as did 2 million other people on a barely 4 km long stretch of beach), I moved all the way to the front with my feet in the warm ocean.

Then the fireworks started. There are no words to describe how i felt and how amazing it was. This is now definitely on my “have to do before you die”-list! The biggest fireworks I have ever seen! 2 million people cheering and partying and congratulating each other! Unbelievable experience!

After the rush settled a bit, we moved back to Ipanema with a big group of surfers because that was where the party would be. Little did I know that it was going to be a rave 🙁 I was already dead tired, so I decided to follow two other surfers home when they decided to go. On auto pilot we made the three hour bus trip back to the hostel (which really is only 10 minutes away by metro, but apparently some of the other 2 million people also decided to go home 😉

After waking up the next day I wanted to buy a bus ticket for the 2nd back to BH, but since the only bus would be arriving in BH at 1.00 in the night and my host is a working man, I decided to spend one more day in Rio. I spent that day going to a really nice remote beach in Niteroi (part of Rio that is on an island across the bay) with one of my slovenian roommates. We really had some good conversations and I look forward to seeing him again for the carnaval in Salvador.

So in the end, I didn’t like Rio very much. The NYE and Christ statue are a definite must see, but the safety issues in this city just plain suck and for me messed up the whole experience.

There, I finally finished my story after 6 days…

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One Response to “Celebrating NYE on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro”

  1. Damn, that really sounds amazing.

    There, no bad jokes this time, it really does sounds like you had the best NYE ever. You lucky bastard. I on the other end couldn’t even see the end of my nose, there was so much fog here in the Netherlands.