Going to Rio for the first time is simply exciting: will the city live up to its reputation and our expectations? After a few conversations with fellow travellers, we found out that flying in Brazil can be cheaper than taking a long distance bus. This is especially true on routes starting & going to Rio de Janeiro. So instead of spending 27 hours on a bus from Salvador, it took us 1 hour and 50 minutes and we actually even saved 12 Reals per person flying!!!
Following the advice of a Lonely Planet ThornTree posting we checked into the incredible Trip Hostel in Santa Teresa. Their website gave great directions as how to get there by bus from the airport, indeed very easy. Rather unspectacular from the outside, the inside is like an old well-preserved colonial mansion. Its high ceilings, wooden floors and exquisitely furnished common rooms, balconies and terraces make it look more like a luxury hotel than a budget place. For the entire week we stayed we shared this paradise with a Brazilian lady so it was as if the whole apartment belonged to us.
And eventually we came to appreciate one aspect of budget accommodations that we did not think we would – kitchen use! After eating out for six weeks in a row we simply had enough of restaurants, food stalls and cheap eateries. So in the evening, we would cook salads, steaks, spaghettis, on top of that maybe a bottle of wine, for one third of the price we would pay in a restaurant. And we had a nice terrace for ourselves … Heaven! We also discovered the supermarket Zone Sul in Ipanema, which for Viennese people would translate into Meinl Am Graben: more a gourmet store than a usual supermarket. It turned out to be irresistible!
To make our comfortable life complete, we could just connect our laptop computer to the LAN of the hotel and be online just whenever we wanted and send pictures or messages with real, European-like high-speed. We used the occasion to send everything we had promised in the past 7 weeks and enjoyed that it only took a few minutes and only one attempt and not hours and millions of attempts.
Our new neighbourhood Santa Teresa is full of beautiful old houses tucked into the mountain, each guarded by squeaking little dogs. To us it appeared like a trendy neighbourhood, but our host explained that this is not the case, the expensive hoods are still Ipanema and Leblon, west of the world famous Copacabana.