Rio – moving to Copacabana and shopping malls

Ok, so firstly apologies for the lack of photos on yesterday’s post – they’re there now. Basically the wifi in my hotel for the last couple of days was dreadful, so while I thought they’d all uploaded they hadn’t.

So, on to my second day in Rio, and I apologise in advance. This is going to be a) very boring and b) very Western, as I really didn’t do very much at all.

I was up pretty early, but having had the best night’s sleep in a long time – I blame the Cachaça and vino last night, but although I woke up hangover free, I did unfortunately have very itchy insect bites on my leg, neck and elbow. Not sure when I got those. I headed back to the cafe where I had lunch yesterday, and grabbed a coffee. I also managed to get a shot inside as well – this is what it looked like. They had a Brazilian breakfast buffet going on but I managed to resist.

After that I headed back to the hotel for 70 lengths of the pool before going back to my room and packing everything up. After standing on a chair to check I’d emptied the safe and banging my head on the safe door not once but twice (very sore) I checked out and got the hotel’s driver to take me on to my next location – Copacabana.

I had a good chat with the driver on the way down about what I should do over the next couple of days, and was soon at my new hotel. I got a glass of sparkling wine on checking in (nice!) but my room wasn’t ready yet, so I decided to go and grab lunch. I walked one street back from Copacabana beach and went to that well known Brazilian style restaurant…

Ya, I couldn’t help it, after a bit of culture shock in Santa Teresa, I guess I just wanted something familiar 🙁 There were three people in front of me, and I think I must have waited about fifteen minutes to be served. I’m getting the vague jist that things never move quickly here.

Weirdly I encountered a bit of a language barrier ordering, as I thought it would be pretty straightforward, but I eventually got my food. They do fries with bacon and cheese on them but I resisted that.

It was nearly time for my room to be ready, but I spotted a TIM mobile phone store and headed there. I’d heard they do a great SIM for visitors to Brazil for about 50 brazilian real with free internet for a week. I know it sounds daft, but I was really beginning to miss not Googling and using google maps when I was out and about, so after fifteen minutes in the shop, I walked out with my SIM.

This is what the main shopping street in Copacabana looks like. Everything again feels a bit rough and ready!

Getting back to the hotel, I checked in to my room and it’s lovely. I forgot to take a photo of it, but I will do over the next couple of days. I then spent at least 45 minutes messing around with this dual SIM card case I’d bought for my phone which involved sticking SIM cards on to a flexible circuit board, bending bits of it, trying to insert it in to my phone and then getting both SIMs recognised (I told you this was not an interesting day). Finally I got it working. Then I headed up to the roof of the hotel, and wow… what a view.

It’s right on Copacabana beach, which I can see out my room as well. It’s pretty breathtaking. Although weirdly, taking that photo, I got for the first time what I think is vertigo. I just got a bit of the heebie jeebies, and I’m not sure why! I think it could be due to my Auckland sky tower jump earlier this year.

Anyway, I had planned to go to the beach in the afternoon, but with the sky cloudy and it not particularly warm, I decided to do another very Western thing and go shopping. The driver from Santa Teresa had suggested it would be a good idea to visit a mall today, as tomorrow the shops only open at 3pm. So I hailed an Uber and caught a ride to Village Mall in Barra da Tijuca – about 35 minutes away. I’d picked this mall based on his recommendation and because it had an Apple store, so I thought it would have decent shops.

It did have decent shops, but none I could afford. It was obviously very high end – Louis Vuitton, Prada and the like. And the stuff in the Apple store was REALLY expensive. Apparently there’s a really high import duty on electronics here, so there were no bargains to be had!

Nice if you could afford it I guess, but I couldn’t, so I just did a quick lap and then decided to move on. I knew there was a big mall which was a bit more ‘normal’ just a five minute drive away, so I hailed a taxi to Barra Shopping. The ride was interesting. The driver told me he didn’t know any English but he did know enough to ask if I preferred women with normal behinds or big behinds! (Normal thanks very much).

Barra Shopping is ENORMOUS. It’s like a city. It’s got to be about three times the size of Bluewater. But look! Look what it has!

C&A! I haven’t seen one of those in decades! Anyhow, I spent the next hour or so getting completely lost in the place. Every time you turned a corner the mall split in two – if you walked down one section you then came out into another massive new section. Like this.

It’s just enormous to the point it’s a bit overwhelming. And the shops weren’t amazing either. I decided to chill out a bit and go for another typically Brazilian experience.

Me and my family have a thing about Starbucks you see. Anyway, after that I was beginning to get a bit peckish. To give you an idea of the scale of the place, I saw at least five different McDonald’s. In the one mall. None of the food offerings looked great, but I did spy a big queue at a sushi place. So yeah, I went there…

Weirdly the only kind of sushi they had all looked the same and was either salmon or trout.

It was very average, but it did kind of hit the spot. And for about £5, I couldn’t really complain. By then I was kind of wanting to find the exit where I came in and get going. It was all just a bit mental. I caught a taxi back to the hotel, and by now it was about 9.30. I headed up to the rooftop again to write this and have a glass of vino, but had to move from a table at the edge because again I felt a bit jittery. God knows what I’ll be like using the infinity pool tomorrow morning!

So my day can probably be summed up by swimming, McDonald’s, Sim card, shopping and sushi. Not very exciting, but I am planning on doing a walk from Copacabana to Ipanema tomorrow and back, which’ll hopefully be a bit more ‘of the city’! Today was quite chilled out though which is exactly what I was in the mood for.