A week in Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City of Rio de Janeiro |
Adrian Seah

Home to the largest carnival in the world, the fabled Carnaval and set enviably amongst the stunning natural surrounds of Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in South America. The stomping ground of the rich and famous as well as the more budget constrained traveller, Rio was the next stop for us after São Paulo along the well worn tourist trail..

We prepared for our arrival in Rio by watching José Padilha’s Tropa de Elite (gang violence in Rio and the elite police squad tasked to combat them), City of God (gang violence in the Cicade de Deus suburb of Rio) and Rio, the animated feature. Not sure to expect drug lords with AK-47s ruling the streets and street kids toting handguns or colourful macaws singing and dancing along to a Samba beat when we arrived, we got off the bus with expectations for pretty much both ends of the spectrum.

I have to report that fortunately (unfortunately?) we saw neither, the few macaws that we saw at Jardim Botanico were gorged full on bananas and lazily preening themselves, they could hardly be bothered to fly, let alone sing and dance, and the kids we saw on the beach were more interested in selling us Caipirinhas than crack coccaine. We hear that things have been cleaned up significantly in recents times, ostensibly for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics and that favelas, traditionally the hotbed of crime, had mostly been ‘pacified’.

Caipirinhas for 5 reals on the beach anyone?

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