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Monday, 26 September 2011

What We Did At Rock In Rio

Yes it is his hair. He´s got the receipt.

Well, we went and rocked - and here´s a few things I´d do If I went again. And a few I wouldn´t.

Overall, I have to say it was a fantastic night (we went on friday for Elton John and Katy Perry and some bird called Rhianna), and the sound quality was amazing for such a big event. The big names did their thing with predictable style and the punters loved it.

Ok here goes - do this:
  1. Sort out your transport, preferably in both directions. If you want to get a bus the final couple of kilometers, you probably  need to buy a 'Riocard' first.
  2. Wear shoes that might offer some defence against the thousand or so clumsy bastards that are going to dance on your feet.
  3. Take money in small denominations. Its amazing how the price of a tinny goes up once they lay their eyes on your hefty note. I heard that cans (R$1 in the supermarket) were changing hands for R$20 in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
  4. Get some rest before you go. The whole process is pretty knackering, so it might be advisable to not go out and have an accidental skinful the night before.
  5. EAT! - Once you get inside, finding yourself hungry might just mean that you die of starvation in a queue to spend your life savings on a ropey looking burger.
  6. Check out the whole place! - We caught a great band on Rock Street - well worth a listen.
  7. Buy beers MANY at a time. The queue is enough to make you want to cry slowly and meaningfully. At least when the waiting is over, you can get stuck into more than one overpriced Heineken.
  8. RELAX, even if your nerves are about to snap. Remember that moving this number of people around is no mean feat. Remember that one of the reasons you came in the first place was to be amoung so many people. Chill out and sing along.
  9. SING/SHOUT/WAVE - Heaven knows you paid enough for your ticket.
  10. Watch the highlights on telly! - I absolutely loved catching the best bits over a Pizza at 3am.... Almost felt like we were there all over again.

Some bird called Rhianna
And don´t do this

  1. Don´t  drink too many before the bus journey.... Obvious advice I know - but the 40 minute bus ride to Barra took us 3 hours! - And nobody´s date likes to see their other half pissing in a bottle, do they?
  2. Don´t sit down in the middle of the crowd without any warning (you know who you are!) - Its hard enough thying to make it through the singalong masses, but if a bunch of revellers suddenly decide to make the lawn their living room, then another bunch are going to fall over them.
  3. Don´t wear flipflops. Only utter plonkers wear flipflops to Rock in Rio. Guess what I wore? Oh, and don´t wear crocs either - I´m all for starting an anti croc movement for no sensible reason. I just hate them.
  4. Don't get too disappointed if things don't go according to plan. In fact, just be glad if you get there.
  5. Don´t wander off anywhere outside the Rock in Rio site. Especially not on your own - stick to where the crowds are. There are some really dodgy looking types around.
  6. Don´t take a posey camera. In fact, don´t take anything swanky at all.
  7. Don´t try and get to the front.  - If you wan´t to be down there, then get there earlier, if not you´re going to spend the whole of the set pissing people off by treading on them.
That´ll do for now I guess. Did I miss anything?

He kissed a girl and he liked it.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Put your dirty foot in it...

The million or so local boozers in rio (botequins) are affectionately known as  pé sujos or `dirty feet bars`. I love that.

So, where should I dip my toe in? - In Copacabana there is a local boozer every 20 feet or so. And they vary in quality (and friendliness) much like they do in any UK city. I guess the best advice is just to go for it. Order a beer and put your feet up for a while. Just people watch. I love that too.

My local  pé sujos is simply wonderful. From the moment I set foot inside they were great. And I couldn`t speak a work of Portuguese without having a minor meltdown. Its called Saci-Pererê on Rua inhanga in Copacabana. The same guys are in there from one day to the next - and a friendly nod is about the extent of our communication, - but to be honest, a friendly nod is perfect.

Saci-Pererê incidentally is a folkloric character that the kids (including mine) learn about at nursery. Interestingly, he only has one leg, so I suppose that makes my local one of few `dirty foot` bars.

The food is to die for. Especially if you`re a fat bastard. R$10 buys grilled chicken, chips, rice and feijão. There`s enough for a family, but don`t let that put you off buying it just for you - thats what the hoards do at lunchtime. And they scran it as if their life depended on it. Probably `cause they have to hot foot it back to work.

In the evening its a more pedestrian affair, and somewhat more civilised. Unless the ode boys playing dominoes in the square kick off for whatever reason - just pace yourself. Its easy to get carried away and go one massive bottle too far. (this is where I sampled the deadly Paulista Fogo) But still - its there to be drunk. 

I wouldn`t use the bathroom though. Its the result of an international projectile pissing competition. Go in there and you really will be wiping your feet on the way out.

This from Rocinha - Don`t put your foot in your mouth
And remember - only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lei Seca, and Becoming a Motorista!

We used Localiza - cheaper, and dodgier alternatives abound.

We hired a hugely uninteresting motor at the weekend to drive to Cabo Frio. Just the same as renting one anywhere I suppose, just don´t expect to get much for your money. We hired the cheapest available with 4 doors and air con. It was R$550 for Friday 10am to Monday 8am.

Now I´m not one of these invincible never-had-a-crash types, and I doubt anybody would be after driving here for long. I´m sure you could find other hairy on-road experiences in other places, but I reckon Rio must be up there. I see an accident of sorts most days, and some of them are not pretty at all. Better pay the extra R$30ish per day and get the insurance.

When we left the UK I was determined to see if we could cope without buying a car - and even though renting here is not cheap, I still think that our overall saving will be huge. And its sooo much less hassle.

What a boring post! -And even more boring considering the most significant factor in becoming a Brazilian driver in Rio (even just for a weekend) - you can forget about beer altogether. They are really serious about their Lei Seca (´dry´law) campaign - with serious penalties for being over the limit. And the roadblocks are often attended by the horribly injured victims of drunken road-wrecks. So forget the cold stuff till your well and truly parked up.

And then go mental at your destination. Rude not to celebrate getting there in one piece eh?

Watch out for the big white baloons.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Roll out the Barra...

Or more accurately pronounced "bah-ha".....

Twice a week, my commute is out of Zona Sul and off to Barra da Tijuca. Ask people about it! One thing for sure is that you'll be answered with quite a strong opinion. As I see it, the general trend seems to be that Barra is the preferred choice for the folks that live there, and everybody else thinks they're welcome to it.

So what made them move there in the first place? Maybe the lure of cheaper rents for more square metres, maybe the chance to bring kids up in safer, gated condominiums where they can ride their bikes without the certain-death traffic. Maybe the huge swanky shopping malls offering mile upon mile of the latest chiq. Or maybe they wanted to relax on 14 or so kilometres of stunning unspoilt beach.

Or maybe they just wanted to live next to an 8 lane motorway where the death defying tunnel ridden bus ride back into town takes anything from 40 mins to 2 1/2 hours.

Well, there's food for thought anyhow.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

How to escape for the weekend.....

The possibilities are endless, and even though we only seem to have explored a fraction of the city, sometimes there is simply no substitute for just taking off and grooving at another address. (ouch, did I really say that?)

We hired a car on Friday - not a cheap option at R$150ish a day (including all insurance) and blasted over the Niteroi bridge, headed for Cabo Frio. We drove the 200km in 3 hours or so and the week of work was a mere distant memory.

The delightful 'La Plage' Hotel, Pero, Cabo Frio
Our accommodation was a cross between Fawlty Towers and the Overlook Hotel in 'The Shining' - everything was proper knackered, and our room included a concrete spiral staircase leading up to the double bedded area. Everything was at least a bit of a health risk, be it a rusty nail or a twenty-foot plummet or a curiously gaffer-taped electric shower. Nice.

So how did we stumble upon such a gem? - Peixe Urbano, the internet offer site, advertised it a while ago and we bought it on a whim. Still, at least the beach was a belter.

There is something about seaside towns out of season. Some folks are dilligently getting ready for the wave of punters  on the horizon, some are desperately competing for the cash of the few intrepid tourists that have stumbled by early, and some just can't be arsed to do anything. Hotel La Plage couldn't even manage to rustle up a breakfast worth more than 5/10. Bless em. They were probably too busy not cleaning the pool, or checking that half the light bulbs needed changing.

At least the beach was a total stunner
Saturday was spent doing beers and sun/wind bathing. The beaches around this area really are special. So special in fact, that even if your hotel royally takes the piss in the hospitality stakes, you are still going to arrive home on Sunday evening with the batteries recharged. What is the something about alfresco seafood and beer that puts the world to rights?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Carioca da Gema!

Now here's an interesting phrase - and one whose definition seems to be a little hard to pin down, so my apologies in advance for pissing off any people who actually know precisely what a Carioca da Gema actually is.

Firstly, and most simply, its the yolk of an egg - that much is certain. Secondly, its a 'true' Carioca. Now I'm not really sufficiently in the know to be able to say what a 'true' Carioca is, but its safe to say that if you weren't born here, along with a couple of previous generations of your family, then you might consider yourself 'Carioca' but you are most certainly not an egg yolk.

Reminds me of the sound of Bow Bells, which incidentally I was born nowhere near. I'm about as Cockney as Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

'Carioca da Gema' is also a wonderful Samba bar in Lapa - we went there last night and drank beer and danced and danced. It really is up there with the very best clubs, and the musicians were effortlessly entertaining - I've honestly not seen better. Pretty sure they must have been born within the sound of some raucous samba clatter.

Now incase I've failed to mention it, one of my more serious interests is getting the beer down me. This place made it easier that ever. The waiters were weaving their way around the dance floor with ice buckets full of beer bottles. You just help yourself and let them mark your card. Whatever you do don't lose the card. The humoungus bloke on the door gently explained why. -- 'If you lose that you're gonna have to pay a lot of money to get out' - understood.

Get yourself down there.

Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride!

You'd look sweet upon the seat.....

This afternoon we  rented bikes and zipped around the Lagoa. There's a generously wide cycle track all the way around the 7km circumference. It really is very pleasant indeed. And with a banging hangover, an ideal way to blow away the cobwebs before getting back on it.

We really should go more often - its super cheap ( R$10 for an hour of bone shaking fun.) - and that included the 2-year old seat and helmet for the little man - a pretty good idea considering its been years since I was last on two wheels. We made it unscathed, and I soon remembered how to do it. It is, after all precisely like riding a bike.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Good Grief...

Its been a while since I tried to regail the world with my latest. I'll be honest - work is making sufficient demands... and although I know you'll be brimming over with sympathy if I never utter another cyber word, I feel that my ego might become black and blue if I don't give my small but perfectly formed audience another dose of 'Whaaatwedid'

If you didn't get it then, then i'll admit it now - I'm three sheets to the wind. Half hammered. Pissed as a fart.... - and the reason.... (amongst other things...) Fogo Paulista.

About a week ago, a mate at work planted the seed. He told me about hard to find Carioca bars where you could choose how to get wasted by combining drinks from the chalk board. A couple of weeks later, and I'm going for it this way and that at the local. Its hilarious. I'm having such a fantastic time people literally suggest that I eat chicken from their forks.

We have more guests soon. If they are feeling especially daft I'll suggest it.

Good grief.

Try one of these....

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