Embracing the Carioca lifestyle
It is safe to say that Rio during Carnaval gives you a distorted view of the city. You tend to think that Rio is out of control, Unhygenic and every one is ripped and wants to grab you. Well some of those points may be true but as we have found out over the last two weeks, the city does have its moments of sanity and sense of normality and routine. Thats right as we did in Cusco we have simply set up camp in Ipanema to get to know the city more intimately, less from a gringo perspective.
We have been lucky enough to have been staying at the Garota De Ipanema Hostel´s Annex as Harsh mentioned before for the first week. It has been a god send, sometimes despite the fact it was a four bedroom apartment we were the only ones staying in it. We then moved to Collinas Residencia near by for the second week as the hostel had to give up the Annex due to a wild party that took place before we got there. Collinas was equally as nice but was a little further from the action.
It has been great getting all the tourist sights out of the way and simply embracing the Carioca lifestyle, it has allowed us to get into a lovely routine here. Waking up around 10ish walking to the open air Gym, sipping on a coconut on the way back. Then eating breaky at our favourite little cafe Beach sucos or grab a yogurt at yogoberry whilst people watching, in the afternoon we usually hit the beach, post 9 where all the beautiful people hangout, off course we fit in well, atleast Harsh does. Later on we grab a late lunch at a Per kilo buffet. We then grab a late nap ready for the night. Eat dinner at beach sucos or an more upmarket BBQ depending on the days expenditure. Finally,hang out at the Corner cafe,with the locals and gringos, enjoying a few Brahma´s and caipirinha´s depending on the mood. After Midnight hit one of Rio´s abundunt night spots( Samba,Hip-Hop,Baila funk depending on the night). Sometimes we would alter the afternoon activity slighty and catch the action of the futbol finals outside popeye bar or stroll through the Markets in Ipanema or Copa. You can safely say it is hard to stay Ripped here with all that Drinking and Eating and breaking rest. Hey you are only young once. In the next few paragraphs I will eloborate on a few of those few activities.
This little cafe got a mention last time we were here but gets another this time as we ate here every day without fail. Usually we would grab a chicken sandwich for brunch with a mango juice but After about a week into our stay we finally discovered how to order scrambled eggs(Doje Ovo then we would hand gesture ¨Scrambled¨). Toast was bit harder as our first attemt yeilded us a bread roll instead. Eventually they got it right though when we found a photo in the menu. This place had it all, crepes,executive lunch,juice the works. It even had the best Acai-a Purple slurpy looking mixture of and amazonian fruit that all the buffed guys walked around with. I had a bad experience with my first one back in feb but was totally converted when I bought one here. My only beef with this guys pardon the Pun, was they would always run out of Pichanha at lunch time.
If we wanted something lite we would simply stop off here to order some lovely natural yogurt with three delicious fresh toppings. It was very fashionable to walk around with a yogo berry. Especially if you were one of those fit woman walking around in 3/4 tights and long white socks. Damn I forgot to buy harsh a pair.
Well about 50 meters to the right of the gay section of the beach was posto 9. It was famous for beautiful Garota´s and Buffed guys. I believe when the famous song was written ´Garota de Ipanema¨the writers were in a bar close by speaking of the girls from this section of the beach. To be honest though most parts of Ipanema beach housed beautiful people. We would stroll there often, grab an umbrella,a Beve and sit and gawk at the hot bods. The beach was far less packed this time, however it was still a buzz as we were there during the holiday period. It was much better this time, gone was the loads of tourist, you could just enjoy the decent size waves and appreciate the skills of the beach volleyball,futvolley and futball players. Off course there was an abundance of wonderfully curvacious woman but Two guys have to get a mention, we refer to them simply as Arse1 and 2. Think of the poster in a doctors surgery displaying the muscular skeletal system of a human. All the different parts, defined to the smallest muscle group. These guys must have posed for it. And they had an Arse that even I had to take a second and third look at. Ok may be more. The other character that´s gets a special mention is the beach Vendor that sold ACAI you know the fruit I ate at beach sucos. This guy would walk up to unsuspecting people with a loud speaker like the captain in Police Academy and shout "ACAI " then turn around and smile at the other people on the beach and then whisper acaiiii softly. If you hear both of us greet you with ACAI instead of Hello it is because of this guy. I think you had to be there as it does not sound that funny writing it. It was great to witness all these characters who seemed to be in the same spot each day,I dont think anyone works here. It was also good to walk to the beach peacefully in 3 minutes unlike the 20 minutes it took in Carnaval avading the loads of people.
Although we at many different restaurents in the evening in Ipanema the main ones included our favourite per kilo place mentioned in our previous visit here and a new churrascaria which we just over induldged at. This BBQ was amazing all you can eat salads, sushi,seafood and Meat Meat and more meat. I am salvating just thinking of the Picanha as I write this. The concept was similar to the Copacabanna restaurent in Melbourne only these guys had much more variaty of meat and a great range of salads and was far cheaper. We went here on two seperate occasions as once was just not enough. If this place was a per kilo we would be broke as I consumed atleast half a cow and harsh had a farm full of chicken and lamb.
BBQ at the corner cafe
During our second week at Ipanema we noticed that at the corner cafe near our hostel there was always a gathering of locals and foreigners around a small BBQ. One day when we walked by the locals kept on gesturing to us to join in and grab a bite of freshly cooked meat and sausages. I did not know quite how to respond and was not aware if this was free or was I going to get a bill at the end after I ate. However, I soon found out that this guy who went by the nickname of King had being having his own little BBQ on this corner for the last 17 years to bring the people together. Apparently this corner was quite a rough place a while back but due to Kings hostpitality the locals and foreiners got together and shared a few yarns over a Barbie and Cervejas and brought harmony to the place. Apparently even the local business owners and supermarkets assisted king in providing this service a few times weekly and during large public holidays. Each patron chipped in few reals aswell to assist in the finances. It was a great meeting point before we went out and was even more lively when Kings mates which included a guy we referred to as the fisherman (as we saw him there in a wet suit and a rod once) rolled up in their vehicles with a trunk full of baile funk-Creauuuuuuuuuuu. Whilst for the most part the corner had a friendly atmosphere going it did change quickly once when an retired old Aussie Bloke insulted one of the local ladies by questioning her sexuality. This girl who had a bigger set of guns than my legs did not take to well to this remark and responded by demanding some "Fu#king RESPECT" and smashing a bottle like Ohara in enter the dragon was ready to glass this guy. Even the usually calm King and the fisherman were offended and exclaimed that if this bloke was any younger he would have been sliced with the same set of blades that was used to carve this friendly meal.
Rio by night
After a few Caipirinhas at the corner we would head off sometimes alone sometimes with fellow travellers to various areas of rio for some dancing.
Some of the notable spots we hit was;
A inner city suburb that was amazingly busy on weekends,packed with a cluster of clubs ranging from Samba,Hip-Hop to trance and funk. It seemed that every one in Rio was there on a friday. You did not even need to go into the clubs as there was music blaring from all corners as we got off the local bus. You could also purchase any type of alcohol and a meat skewer from the countless street vendors. We sampled a Hip-Hop,Baile funk and Samba club here. The Samba club called the Rio Scenarium was amazing, great band,atmosphere, three levels and played some of the carnival school themes and offcourse Mas Que nada(Oba Oba Oba)
This place was an upmarket club in Gavea. It was the in the Rio Planetarium. We went there with an english guy named Mickey who we met at Kings Corner BBQ. Even though we got there early at 11 there was a queue of 150 meters long. I dont think I have lined up for 1 and half hours since the warehouse and carousel but hey we were only in rio for a short time so we hung in there, sipping a few drinks from the vendors in the line. It was worth the wait, Pitty Mickey did not wait with us to enjoy the night as he had to find a husband on the beach the next day. The club was really pretty inside. A sitting area with a tree inside equipped with nice benches. Excellent music to go with the picturesque surroundings and reasonably priced drinks. The place also had its fair share of aggressive blokes, one who had the audacity to speak to me for 5 minutes then in the same breath turn around to Harsh and ask her whether she would like to kiss her first Brazillian guy(Okay we are one all from Sao Paulo Now).
This place prounounced Melch by the locals and myself was in Posh Leblon. We went there after that eventful night at the corner. It had a good vibe inside, great baile funk but unlike the favela no shooting and some extremely beautiful model like fair skinned locals getting down like their darker countryman. Melch was also more reasonably priced than Barronotti in Ipanema were us blokes had to coff up 100reals minimum at the bar just to enter.
There were two markets which we frequented whilst here. The Copa night Market and the Sunday Hippie fair in Ipanema. The Copamarket was wear we got the most value out of as its prices were considerably cheaper than neighbouring ipanema. We managed to pick up many bargain here including a Brazil Jersey for Prashu and Harsh even managed to find a prospective husband from the states, atleast thats what she will tell you. The truth is this extremely good looking hunk of man simply looked at her in passing and she already had the invitations prepared.
Jokes aside we also enjoyed strolling through the Ipanema Hippie fair which had more quality stuff on offer but was only on Sundays and was at a higher price. Infact one sunday we saw the same vendor later at copa who offered the same top to us for 10real cheaper due to the venue he was selling at.
The world game
As mentioned before on the weekends there was always a Futball game on. We were lucky enough to be here during the finals. Flamengo V Botafogo, two local teams. The area we were staying in had a large Flamengo following. Especially at this small non discript bar call Popeye. The locals would pack this place that had small flat screen and a few bites like fried sardines and empanadas. People even had T-shirts of this joint ala hard rock cafe. The atmosphere was great outside especially during a flamengo goooaaaaaaaaaal. It was great to see how Brazillians embraced soccer, we did not see this last time due to the euphoria of Carnaval. It is not hard to see why they are the world´s No.1 especially when you walk on the beaches at night and see the kids as little as 5 playing organsied games and immulating the greats.
So that has been our activity during the last two weeks, we have loved being in Ipanema and embracing the Carioca lifestyle. It will be sad to leave but I think we have pretty much done all that we could here. All accept one as you will see in the next blog.