I won’t lie. Our first 24 hours upon landing in Rio de Janeiro was anything but smooth.
- We arrive at GIG airport all okay, and we gave the airport HSBC bank ATM a shot, as recommended by everyone to use over the Brazilian bank ATMs in terms of security. However, none of our cards were able to withdraw cash. Perplexed, I gave my bank, Charles Schwab (which I chose for their waived fees for any ATM around the world), a call….
- They informed me that that particular single HSBC Bank ATM was reported to have been compromised and that they would shut down any card associated with that ATM, including mine. That means on DAY ONE I would not be able to withdraw cash. Nuts.
- They then offered to ship a new card to me, but since I travel pretty fast, nobody was sure where it would end up and if I would receive the card in time or at the right place. We eventually gave it a shot for April 15-16 in Chile, but that still meant no ATM access for a whole week.
- Andy’s — who would be the last person we would wait for — plane was delayed by 45 minutes, but the main screen didn’t say that. So we thought we missed him and ran around the airport for an hour looking for him.
- Chris left one of his bags in the taxi on the way to the hostel. It wasn’t a prepaid airport cab, so there was no way of tracking it down.
- Be careful of which cab you get into from the airport. We thought we were getting into a regular cab instead of a prepaid cab (more expensive but also more secure) because we made them turn on the meter, but even then we got jipped 30 Brazilian Reals on our way to the hostel.
- My iPhone 5 charger (I use my iPhone as a flashlight and compass, NOT AS A PHONE -_-) just stopped working today.
On the bright side we were able to still be productive and see a few places in our first 24 hours.
From our home base, The Discovery Hostel, in the Gloria/Lapa district, we took the metro north to Centro:
Then we walked around the neighborhood and then south along Avenida Rio Branco, where there’s bank after bank after bank…
Took a right along Avenida Almirante Barroso and found the streetcar behind Petrobras:
Too bad it was closed until next year. So we decided to walk to the famous Ecadaria de Salaron, a public display of art by a Chilean artist. It’s 215 steps from Santa Teresa to Lapa with 2000 tiles from over 120 countries:
Afterwards we took a cab to Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain):
…Paid $30 USD ($15 USD if with student ID) to take the trolley up to the first peak, Morro de Urca:
And took in the views there before sunset:
Afterwards there’s a tram behind (don’t miss it!) Morro de Urca, where it takes you to the second, taller peak of Pao de Acucar:
Stay there until night to really get a feel of Rio:
And then it was back to Discovery Hostel for a BBQ dinner before having a few drinks in Lapa. Low-key night tonight.
- At time of posting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it was 86 °F - Humidity: 40% | Wind Speed: 28km/hr | Cloud Cover: light rain