A weekend in Rio and my suspicions were confirmed. More glamorous and beautiful than São Paulo, it’s love at first sight. São Paulo remains an acquired taste.
Rio’s culture seems to revolve around the beach, and standing on Ipanema as the sun sets behind Morro Dois Irmãos with a caipirinha in hand, it’s easy to see why. This beach focus makes the city more relaxed and informal, and it’s a welcome break from the frenetic pace of São Paulo.
I survived a hair-raising ride through a favela on the back of a motorbike, or ‘moto-taxi’, to arrive at the bottom of the ‘trilha Dois Irmãos’, where we went on to climb the mountain itself. The views from the top of ‘Morro Dois Irmãos’ were breathtaking. On one side you can see the city and lagoon laid out before you, with Ipanema beach stretching into the distance, and on the other you are greeted with a bird’s eye view of Rocinha, South America’s largest favela. Looking down on a sprawling mass of roofs, it’s hard to believe it’s home to 250,000 people.
5 reais caipirinhas next to a petrol station, on a street rammed with people and cars; a night out in Lapa was fairly surreal. It’s Brazil’s answer to the strips of Magaluf and Malia, except far seedier and without the worryingly comforting sight of drunk British tourists.