Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Have the Worst Luck: Rio de Janeiro

As Brasil’s version of Labor Day, O Dia do Trabalhador, rolled around, I decided that a trip to Rio de Janeiro was in order. Since it would be the last long weekend of the semester, I wanted to make my way for an in-person meeting with a professor who is on sabbatical in Rio. I had planned most of the trip ahead of time, but I had forgotten bus tickets. So, the night before I was looking up the bus schedule to get me to my plane on time. Somehow, I managed to find a plane ticket from Porto Alegre to Pelotas for the same price as a bus ticket. Nevertheless, that did not help me get to Porto Alegre.
After 4 hours of sleep, I woke up to make my way to the rodoviaria. I was exhausted and fell asleep on the bus, but somehow woke up 10 seconds before the right bus stop. At the rodoviaria, I was informed there were not any buses to Porto Alegre until noon, which would have made me late for my plane. So, I went to Pelotas instead. Besides being 10 reais cheaper, it was on the way to Porto Alegre and had more bus choices. Although there was a bus leaving 10 minutes later, the bus was full and the earliest ticket was 12:30pm. Freaking out that I would not be able to make my 5:15pm flight, I started calling some friends to see if I had time to catch the flight. One of my friends stayed on the phone with me for 40 minutes calming me down and telling me it would be all right. Around this point, I ran into another ETA from Pelotas. She was heading to Porto Alegre too, but she was taking the noon bus. Somehow, I ended up on the bus with her, and sat on the floor the entire way (about a 3.5-hour bus ride). The crazy part was that I slept 95% of the trip!
I managed to arrive about an hour before my flight, having already checked-in on my phone while on the bus. As I waited for the plane to take off, I mentally wished I was on the right plane. The sign had said Recife, and I knew that was not where I was going. (Apparently, the plane stopped in Rio, then continued to Recife. Passengers going to Recife did not have to deplane, so the sign said Recife instead of Rio.) However, the universe had other ideas. After sometime on the plane, making a new friend, we were instructed to deplane because there was an issue with the plane.
Finally, those who were head for Recife were sent to a hotel, and those who were headed for Rio were given vouchers to eat at the buffet place in the airport. We were told that there was a flight with another airline at 9pm that we would take. If we were not on that flight, we would be on another flight at some point that night, but there was not a specified time.
As I went through security for the second time, I was prompted to leave the gates and head to TAM for my new ticket. Since I did not have a checked bag, I was the first person to get my new ticket and went through my third security screening. I was also the lucky person randomly chosen for a bag search. After hours of travel, I finally arrived at my hostel in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro around midnight.
The next day was somewhat better. I walked the three blocks to the Ipanema Beach and spent some time taking in the streets before heading back to the hostel. The other American invited me to go see Christ the Redeemer. We sat on a bus for about an hour and made our way to the tram station. Once there, we found out that next available trip was at 6pm; it was about noon. We ended up walking around and came across a company that took people to the park entrance via van. Deciding it was worth it, we headed up the mountain. However, we were greeted by two huge lines: one for the tickets, and one waiting for the rides to the top
Ipanema Beach.
As close as I got to Christ the Redeemer.
The view of Rio de Janeiro before heading back down.
Since, I did not have time to do all of that before my 3:30pm meeting, we headed back down to find some food. We ended up eating at a place where the restaurant chooses the dish for you. Across the street was a church with gorgeous natural lighting, which we explored afterward.
In the end, I made it to my meeting with minutes to spare. The meeting went well, and then I was off on my own again. I ended up going out with some Brazilians to a three-floor club that looked like a museum inside. Every floor was covered in antiques, statues, etc. Of course, this meant waiting outside for an hour before making our way inside.
As the trip came to a close, I was excited that my day of travel would be shorter with my second plane ride. Yet, another day had to be difficult. I had to pay for the hostel still, and I found out as I was leaving that they did not accept credit cards. I had to run three blocks to the bank while another person waited on me because we were sharing a cab to the airport. When I landed in Porto Alegre, I had 30 minutes to make it to my next flight, only to find out my connecting flight was in a different terminal. I had to take a taxi because the shuttle was not quick enough. I was sure glad to finally get home.
Nevertheless, the trip was full of stories and adventures! One, I am not going to forget anytime soon.

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