The flight touched down into Rio De Janeiro without much issues and on time. After taking my luggage and withdrawing cash from the ATM (which I did for the last 2 countries since I stored all my USD in the Youtrip card), I walked from the newer modern terminal 2 to older terminal 1 in a bid to search for the airport hotel called Rio Aeroporto Hotel. It was quite a long walk but when I did arrive, the staff told me that they were fully booked and there was another hotel nearby called the Linx hotel that was outside the airport where I could take a shuttle bus from Terminal 2. I made my way back again and thought I am not going spend anymore time there around the airport area and Uber straight to Pestana Rio Atlântica hotel, 30mins ride away, for almost R$40, slightly more than SGD$12.
Went to the reception to check in knowing very well that the room would not be ready but tried anyway. Asked if there were days rates available and was informed that they were fully booked too. I could however used the toilets on a certain level to freshen up and change to another set of clothes. At least that was better than nothing so I did just that, at the 2nd level where typically the convention rooms were situated and thus no human traffic at that time. I used the toilet which was not in the best of conditions and returned my bags to be kept at the bell.
I was also asking if the reception could help with receipt of my Carnaval tickets that supposedly were to be delivered today by the ticket company but they confirmed they couldn’t. They would normally agree for other documents but not for Carnaval tickets, with the same explanations that the tickets were of high value. However, I asked them to at least transfer the message to the tickets delivery personnel that they should return in the afternoon since I was going to be out on a Rio day tour in the morning.
I went to the Copacabana beach to take a walk and took some photos in the gloomy day, all the while being a little cautious about my surroundings fearing that someone would mug me from all the stories online. But while I was there, there weren’t even anyone remotely close to me and found that those feelings were quite uncalled for. After a short walk, I went around the area to find breakfast as the one offered by the hotel was for 42reals but it didn’t looked so good and I was not going to have 2 days of that.
Luckily as I walked around, I saw Santa Marta that looked like a bakery store on the outside and while inside, there were tables like a restaurant. The staff inside invited me in and as I looked at the large variety of pastries and confectionary, another staff helped me take order. Got myself what looked like pizza, a tart and an americano for 20something reals.
I returned to the hotel and went to the bar and pool at the topmost floor to admire the view of the Copacabana beach. Took some photos and then returned to the lobby. It was there that I met the tour guide Monica from Rio Carioca who was 30mins early. I got onboard the bus and while we made our way to another hotel, I fell asleep for a short time.
It wasn’t long before we got 4 groups of people including myself, 2 of which were Spanish speaking and 2 English. That meant the guide had to talk about the same thing 2 times in different languages!
The first visit was to the Corvocado, where Christ the Redeemer stood. The guide explained the history of Copacabana beach and its development to where it was today. She also went on to described how the statue became where it was today and how it designed and ended up as it was today. Our bus took us all the way to the top where the ticket counter was. Then the guide went to get the tickets before we went to queue for the shuttle bus (no access to private vehicles) to the top. It was a short 5mins trip up after which we alighted and boarded an elevator to where the statue was standing. Immediately after the exit, the majestic view of the entire 30m tall back of the statue came into view. Another few more escalators up and then there was where it got very crowded! People all over the place were trying to get their photos with/of the Redeemer, one of the New 7 Wonders. I took a few selfies and the guide took some photos for me. There was a good view of the beaches and Sugarloaf Mountain from here but the fog was covering everything and so I couldn’t get a postcard perfect shot.
We met at the bottom of the elevator at the agreed time (after I messed up the meeting place and realized no one was there and went to the right one) and proceeded to board the shuttle bus and take the route back to the ticket office level. From there, our bus brought us to the next location, Sugarloaf Mountain.
It was about a 30mins drive to Sugarloaf Mountain and similarly, we alighted to wait for the guide to get the tickets for the cable car. Then it’s up to the cable car station where a huge gondola would carry like a truckload of people to the first location called Urca Hill and then a second station transfer to the taller Sugarloaf Mountain. The guide led us directly to the Sugarloaf Mountain where the view was simply amazing. We could see the beaches and the Redeemer plus the islands all around. Spent about 30mins there before returning to the Urca Hill where we took a group photo with the Sugarloaf Mountain. There was a Havaianas store but I couldn’t get the size for the model I wanted. That was then the end of the tour, we took the cable car back down to the ground level where some of the groups wanted to be left there to continue on their own tour of Rio while the rest of us shuttled back to the hotel. I bade farewell to the guide upon arrival at Pestana and tipped her 50reals.
I was able to check in this time around and was given a room on the 8th floor with a partial view of the beach. I guessed the room would have had a perfect sunrise view but the gloomy weather wasn’t letting me have it. I took a bath and went to bed, as the lack of sleep on the plane previously was hitting me.
The next time I woke up, it was when my room phone rang and I was informed over the call that the delivery person had arrived and was at the reception. I went down to sign for my tickets and returned back to the room to leave all these important stuff into the safe before heading out for a late lunch. Found a Bibi Sucos fast food restaurant and ordered the grilled chicken with rice and mixed vegetables and juice for 40something reals. The food was not bad in my opinion.
I went to the Havaianas store nearest to the restaurant but there I couldn’t find the sizes as well. However, there was another one just a couple of hundred meters away which was bigger as informed by the staff and went there and got what I wanted! I returned to the hotel and continued to sleep as my helicopter tour that I had reserved with Rio2fly was cancelled due to the weather. I didn’t have anything else and was too tired to go to the beach (and the weather didn’t help!).
The pick up for my Carnaval parade was at 830pm and I went down just in time as I met the attendant who brought me onto a big 40 seater bus. The bus then travelled some distance before I was transferred to another bus but one with bigger seats. From there, it was the journey to the Sambadrome. We arrived into a really crowded place with so many people turning up for the Champions’ Parade, the last day of the Carnaval. There were many people who came dressed up as well.
I entered through the sector 7 entrance and the staff led me to my seat at boxed area with a shelter. There were some people already there in the box but we were all sharing that area.
I went out to get some dinner in the form of a burger and a beer for 21reals from the bar and returned to the box to eat. The champions parade had 6 schools each given 1hr to parade through and from the start, I was completely loving the whole atmosphere, with all the singing and the singing along (although I didn’t understand any of the words) and the beautiful synchronised drumming; all the samba dancing to the beat of each parade, both out in the parade walkway and within the viewing areas; I was taking lots of photos of the colourful floats and the costumes!
The only major party pooper was the weather. Right from the start the rain had been merciless and came down continuously, drenching everyone out there in the open. Even for myself who was under the shelter, I also got wet as the rain came in from the sides. However, no amount rain was able to extinguish the fiery passion of these paraders and their supporters, who were out there in the open in full force wearing ponchos and samba dancing the night away! I thoroughly enjoyed the night that lasted all the way till 5am in the morning for the last parade by this year’s champions!
Some photos of the schools – Mangueira in 6th position
Salgueiro in 5th position
Beija-Flor in 4th position
Mocidade in 3rd position
Grande Rio in 2nd Position
Champions of Carnaval 2020 – Viradouro
The return back to the hotel was a chaotic movement out of the place as hordes of people were making their way out. Thankfully I was still able to find the meeting place for the bus pick up and then after waiting for a little more, I finally boarded the bus and left the Sambadrome. I fell asleep on the bus and by 6am I was back at my hotel.