I had originally planned on spending Christmas and New Years in Brazil but after balking at the cost of a dorm bed over the holiday period ($120 a night!) I changed my flights and arrived into the city at the end of November. I had ten days until I flew out to Colombia and I was unsure to spend them all in Rio or spend a few days down the coast as well. I had only booked five nights in Copacabana initially, to delay the decision. The hostel I booked into was a perfect find as it was a small social place and I met some really cool people.
On my first full day I did a free walking tour of the Centro area, an area I wouldn't have probably explored had no one told me abut this tour. It was definitely worth it though and I was finding out fast that Rio is not just about the beaches. The tour finished in famous Lapa, so we got to see the Lapa Arches and the steps before having a traditional Brazilian lunch of feijoada.
The Lapa steps, or Escadaria Selaron, are 250 steps which run from the bottom of the hill suburb Santa Theresa, to Lapa and were the dream and work of Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron. In the early 90's he had wanted to add colour to the derelict area outside his house so he started adding tiles. Over the next two decades this became his life and people also began donating tiles from all around the world. There are now over 2000 tiles from 60 countries including a cute little kiwi one. The steps are a huge tourist attraction and I've always wanted to check them out ever since seeing them on Snoop Dogs video clip Beautiful.
Watching a soccer match at the Maracana was must do, no matter how big the hangover was. After arriving in the pouring rain and having issues finding tickets we took out seats among the popular local team Fluminense who were playing Atlético. The crowd was what you imagined at a Brazilian football match. Loud. And passionate. The game was so close too and I actually enjoyed soccer for once! When it was 2-1 to Fluminense Stephen whispered that he wouldn't mind if the other team scored another goal to make it more interesting. I quietly agreed and well when Atlético scored and we smiled with glee, we got told off by a angry woman behind. Scoring for the wrong team could kill you in some parts, woops.
To have a change of scenery and experience another part of town I moved to another hostel, this time in Ipanema. A block from the beach. Bliss.