Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rio de Janeiro Airport (Oct 14, 2009)

5 days have passed by since I landed in Rio and it has been a really good experience so far.

Let me start from the beginning. I landed on the 10th, at around 9.30 am delayed by a half hour. This was largely because of American Airlines having a flight all set to leave in Miami, but no captain for the flight. A reserve captain arrived half hour after the flight was scheduled to depart. I was hoping that he was not out drinking somewhere which would have been scary!

Anyway, immigration and customs was pretty smooth. It is the same procedure; they check your passport and visa and stamp it. Also there is an entry/exit paper which is stamped too, and this will have to be in your possession till you depart Brazil. The stamp has a 1 on it, which means you entered Brazil.

Once out the airport I had trouble finding the ATM. It is situated in a place with not much signs. Once you exit catch the escalator to the second floor (for Indians) or 3rd floor (for Americans). There are ATMs of pretty many banks there and one should work.

Once done, there is a bus called Real Autobus at the exit outside. For 7Reals it takes you to the Rodoviaria (Bus station), Domestic Airport (SDU) and Copacabana and Ipanema along with the other main centers too. It will drop you pretty much wherever you want, so it is convenient and a cheaper option than the taxi, which may cost around 50 to get to Copacabana.

A short walk got me to my hostel – Walk on The Beach, a small but safe and easily accessible hostel from Copacabana. The breakfast is free from 9 to 11, and they do provide towels and locks for a minimal cost. The best part was the excursions which they organize. One such helped me a lot on the Saturday I landed, as it was raining and I was kind of disappointed that I would not get to do too much. I saw that there was a soccer game at the Maracana stadium which was being organized. So I joined in for 55 Real’s, and this was an amazing sporting experience.

The game was between one of the local teams – Flamingo and Sao Paulo. As we did not want to be killed, we were supporting Flamingo, and you should have seen it to believe it. This is one of the largest soccer stadiums in the world, and it was pretty packed. The noise was deafening, and emotions were running wild. An experience which I do not think I would have got if it was not raining, and I am so glad that it was.

Also, made a couple of friends – Paul and Simon from England who I hung out with the same night drinking Caipirinha’s which is the Brazilian national cocktail, and believe me extremely potent. Three for the night and I was on my bed –dead asleep. A mixture of the journey, the screaming at the stadium and the drink finally got to me and I slept like a log till 9.30 the next morning.

My first day was not exactly what I wanted – no glimpse of either Pao da Acucar (Sugarloaf) or Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), a very brief glimpse of Copacabana when I got down from the bus and rain all around. But all of this was made up by the pone game I saw at the Maracana, along with the fact that I met a few people who I could talk to and generally hang out with.

The weather reminded me so much of Mangalore, and I was for a moment lost in it. I had begun to love Rio and I will tell you how much as I write my next post on the days after that.

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