Being ‘shaked, rattled and rolled’ round this exciting city in the 584 bus that seems to cover nearly all the main parts of the south of Rio at a breakneck speed. Laranjeiras to Leblon via Botafogo-Copacabana and Ipanema all for about 20p. A bus that stops to pick you up anywhere on route if it is at all possible and drops you as near to your destination as possible it can. The 584 does this probably to maximise the passenger’s numbers for its owners and it is no doubt against ‘Heath & Safety’ but I liked it! Another one I liked. The fact you can call collect, from the beaches and all round the boroughs by using the ‘Big Ear’ telephones (OrelhÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½o). These telephones are to Rio, like the red tel. box is to London – So a mobile is less necessary than in London.
A magazine sent me to Rio a short time ago and I also made a private visit of four months last summer, so I thought I would let the GT Club members know of some of my favourite haunts.
Fruit Juice bars are around all over the place. Polis Sucos is one such place, in Rua Maria Quiterial, Ipanema open 6am to midnight. The bar staff vying with each other in trying to tell us their favourite fruit cocktails- Such as “papaya with orange” enthuses one. “NÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½o, mango and strawberry” shouts another. Livia, a customer joins in. Breaking away from her juice, this Carioca charmer says, “passion fruit and mango is where it’s at. Have we tried it? Can she buy us one? Are we enjoying Rio”? Adam Baines and I finally leave having bought four fruit cocktails and spent nearly Ãƒâ€šÃ‚£2-50. The staff of this bar are always trying to outdo other bars in freshness and service. Another favourite bar, in Leme – ‘Sindicato do Chopp’ (Union of draught beers) Avenida Atlantica 3806, opens early until very late. Not only great beer but also very good food at value prices just opposite the beach, a place, for locals, surfers, footballers and the bikini crowd gather to have fun, Carioca’s love to say, “The father makes the money in Sao Paulo and the son blows it on good times in Rio” all of course talking about everything except work that four letter word, that is like illness – It happens but why mention it? I have watched the dawn rise in this friendly bar, after many a night on the town, a good pit stop as I wound my weary way home.
The city built around large rocks by Guanabara Bay and its famous beaches. Looking down from the Sugar Loaf towards the metropolis, on the right, at the foot of this massif sheer rock, I once climbed it, way back when I was nearly young, called in Portuguese ‘PÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½o de AÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½Ãƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½car’: are the still waters of the Rio Yacht Club and the fashionable, safe borough of ‘Urca’. Strike out to the left and after the small Praia Vermelha, then you pass Leme, one of my favourite beaches in a district that is of mixed incomes, like Notting Hill Gate (of a few years ago) but by the sea. Copacabana, where I grew up as a young boy with surfing and football on the beach has changed for the worst. Prostitutes everywhere and Large Five Star Hotels that dwarf the beautiful ‘Copacabana Palace’. More Police and private security than anywhere else, to no doubt protect the Tourist Trade! Arpoador, a big rock sticking out into the sea – Join hundreds of people and TV Crews from around the world watch the Sun go down over Ipanema, Leblon – Finally as the cloak of darkness spreads over you, hear the sound of the watchers on the rock clapping the gorgeous sunset. Ipanema and Leblon are two very good beaches. Ipanema, so very expensive because only two Kilometres in depth, has the great beach in front and a lovely lake with its cycle track all round it, right behind, then past that, the Statue of Christ and mountains. Leblon is the Knightsbridge of Rio, even richer than Ipanema, full of Bankers, business people and yet it is here – In the heart of rich man’s Rio that we find the altar of the poor man’s drink, ‘cachaÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½a’.
Distilled from humble sugar cane syrup, it helps the poor forget the hell of their worst hours. CachaÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½a, mixed with ice, lime and sugar, it becomes caipirinha – A great drink to give you a lift before going out, clearing your mind or even blowing your mind if you drink too much! Academia de CachaÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½a, Rua Conde Bernadotte 26, open midday to 3am, this is very best place to have the best cachaÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½a with a choice of over seventy different types and barmen who really know how to mix the cocktails.
A crowded cycle track, the sun beating down, tanned youths with surf boards attached to their bikes, the sound of waves breaking on the beach, beautiful people, cycling, skating and jogging all around me – In fact on Sundays a three lane highway is closed by the beaches to enable the thousands of Cariocas to have enough room to move about in their various ways. Stop to have a cold beer, coconut or juice or watch some volley, as you cycle along this thirty Kilometre track beside the perfect sandy beaches. To go to beaches further out in the Barra, take the Surf bus that leaves ‘Largo do Machado’ twice a day and drops you off at the beach of your choice past Leblon and then brings you back later in afternoon.
A lagoa (the Lake) behind Ipanema is just the place to go at night to have a low cost drink, meal and sometimes music in the various Kiosks near the water. But for a very special meal in a very good restaurant with ambiance and a perfect view over the start of Rio’s Jockey Club’s flood lit race track – with live music some days of the week – Three styles of food, Japanese, Pizza and European/Brazilian. Centro GastronÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½mico Victoria, Rua MÃƒ¯Ã‚¿Ã‚½rio Ribeiro 410, Jockey Club Brasileiro, open from 2030 hrs, http://www.complexovictoria.com.br – Prices vary depending what you eat and drink but about average without drink 30$ a head. Less for Pizza than Lobster! Well worth a visit for a special night out. I love it and recommend it.
Finally, tucked into the arches of a viaduct at the bottom of Santa Tereza, that runs the last of Rio’s trams, that like the Routemaster in London, it will soon unfortunately disappear. So if you can – Take an exciting ride on this archaic yellow tram in the day time. This is also the bohemian/hippy club centre and a fantastic fun centre of music bars with low prices that goes on until whenever! Soon It’s 3am and how many caipirinias? So, do yourself a favour, don’t take the bus and be shaken and rolled !! – Pick up a taxi and get safely dropped back to where you are staying. That’s if you can still remember where you are staying?
About the author Tony Annis: Have camera will travel. Over the top but not yet over the hill. Past sixty five and still alive, my get up and go has not entirely got up and gone – like good whisky, I’m still going strong. Travelling through these global villages of ours is great adventure but to me it is the people that make this wonderful world, as well as the exotic places that I love to visit. See you over the next horizon, Tony.