JOE Backpacking Diary #23 - A bucket list moment, robbery, GAA and more for our Irishman in Rio this week 6 years ago

JOE Backpacking Diary #23 - A bucket list moment, robbery, GAA and more for our Irishman in Rio this week

If you've ever thought about travelling to Rio, you should read this Irishman's diary from the Brazilian city.

My name is Joe Harrington; I'm travelling through Central and South America for eight months, here's what happened on week 22.


Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (continued)

My beloved Kerry were playing Dublin in the All-Ireland football semi final on Sunday so finding a place to watch that was priority.

There are a few "Irish" bars in Rio and a crew from the #IrishInRio WhatsApp group, Shane and Heather, were told the game would be shown in The Lucky Screw in Copacabana.

Myself, a Cork guy Cian, Heather, Shane and a Dutch guy Peter met there at 11:20am local time, Ireland is four hours ahead, and we were left disappointed. No match.


After a bit of searching on Google, we decided the best idea was to go back to my apartment and stream it on GAA GO.

Heather's tablet was the real hero as we got the game up and running about halfway through the first half.


Two more from Dublin, Ali and Niamh, arrived during the second half and we were all huddled around the tablet roaring and shouting to the last minute.

The game was remarkable. The result was gutting. Absolutely gutting.

After some slagging from the Dubs, myself, Ali, Cian and Niamh decided to make the most of the day and hike the Two Brothers mountain in Leblon.

The safest way to travel around Rio is by Uber, it's very popular here and it's cheap so we picked one up in Copacabana and set off for the base of the mountain.


Our driver Ovaldo dropped us off at the Sheraton Hotel (€9) and then we walked to the starting point which is at the entrance of a favela. Lovely.

The quickest way to get to the top is by mototaxi (€3) so we all hopped on the back of motorbikes and zoomed up the hill through the slum.

My driver wasn't sparing it slaloming in and out of traffic, taking the tighest possible turns, bouncing over speed bumps and leaving his braking to the last second.

My heart was pounding by the time he left me off but it was very cool to ride through a favela in Rio on a motorbike.

The hike started then and we quickly realised it was going to be steeeeepppp.


We were distracted for a few minutes by a group of little monkeys that were playing on a tree next to the trail.


Me feeding a monkey some apple on the Two Brothers hike in Rio

I really enjoyed the hike, it was pretty challenging, but every so often there would be a viewing point of either the surrounding favela or the ocean and it made it all worthwhile.

Just to give you an idea of the steepness, here's a photo of the crew on their way up.


(L-R; Ali, Cian, Niamh)

It took about 50 minutes to get to the top and what was waiting for us was stunning. It was Rio from a completely new perspective and it blew us all away.

It was such a nice evening there. The place wasn't packed with tourists so we just sat at the edge of the rock soaking in the view and chatting.

The way down was interesting though because we had to walk back through the favela for 25 minutes or so in the dusk/dark *Gulp*

It felt a bit sketchy to be honest but it was totally fine. The thing about being in Rio is that you're constantly paranoid about something bad happening, it's really annoying and unnerving. More on that later.

It was great to get a glimpse of the favela at night though.


A view of a favela from the Two Brothers mountain

There were people drinking beer on the streets, people glued to the football on every available TV, kids flying kites on roofs, motorbikes and cars fighting for space on the narrow streets, samba music blaring, the smell of fresh street food wafting around and an unmissible energy.

It was a brilliant experience.

Myself and Cian went down to Copacabana beach that evening for a few beers and the craic was 90.

The bar, which is on the beach, had a guy with a guitar singing a few tunes and the crowd were acting like they were in Ibiza. It was brilliant, the Brazilians know how to party.

I'm staying in a one-bedroom apartment at the moment and it's so good. It's very different to dorm-life in hostels, which I love too, but a bit of privacy for a few weeks is great.

It also means I can buy groceries which means I can cook my own meals which in turn helps save some money.

This is my favourite breakfast to make.


Nutella pancakes with banana and strawberry

The reason I bring this up is to officially apply for the next season of Great British Bake-Off talk about budgets and money.

A lot of people have been in touch wondering how much I'm spending or how much they'd need to travel in Central or South America.

I got the old abacus out today and calculated that I've spent an average of €50 per day on my trip. That's accomodation, food, tours, activities and travel all included.

Obviously there were days when I spent way more but that's been balanced out by days when I did nothing and spent a lot less.

That works out at about €1,500 per month and it's been totally fine for me. I've done pretty much everything I wanted to do and I've had a fantastic time.

If you think about it, one big night out at home costs €100, that's a week in hostels over here...


One of the highlights of my whole trip happened this week as I got to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Christ the Redeemer.

I'd seen the statue numerous times over the last month as I travelled all over Rio by car, train, bus, metro and foot, but seeing it up close was different.

Myself and Cian decided to go there in the evening and wait for sunset because we'd heard good things about the views at that hour of the evening.


Here's the statue just as the sun is setting.

And here I am standing in front of it after sun went down and the lights were turned on.

Like I said in that Instagram post, it was a real bucket list moment for me. It's such a special place, it was surreal to be there to be honest.

The view of Christ is jaw-dropping but the views of the city from up there are spectacular too.

Here's a nightime view of the lake where Gary and Paul O'Donovan won their Olympic silver medal.

I had a few beach days after that which I won't bore you with, but here's a quick summary; sun, sand, beer, growing a beer belly, sucking in the beer belly, eating, swimming, sweating, burning, laughing, talking shite.

There were a few safety issues in my area during the week. There were shootings in a favela about 10 minutes up the road and the local teenagers went on a robbing spree on the street where I'm living.

Cian told me about the robbery, he said around 10-15 young lads randomly swarmed people on the street taking phones, wallets and valuables. The police caught one or two of them but the kids made a serious haul.

That's what I meant earlier by the paranoia thing, you just never know what's going to happen on the streets.

I've taken some precautions, I just bring cash and my house keys out and I very rarely have my phone on me so If I do get robbed, it won't be that bad.

My experience has been totally fine, I really love the city, but that fear is always at the back of my mind, which is a shame.

I had a few cool nights out this week, I met some local friends - Ricardo, Gabi and Isabela - in Botafogo where we had burgers and beers in a clothes shop that stays open until 3am. Random, but fun.

I also met Alannah and Niall from Tyrone last night for tapas, the #IrishInRio thing is still working, so it was great to catch up with those two who are at the very start of their four month trip.

I visited Olympic Boulevard today to check out the Future Museum which has received rave reviews since it opened last December.

I didn't research it too much which was stupid of me because you can only buy tickets for it online. I didn't bring my phone so no museum for me today, the outside is class as you can see from the above photo.

I'll go back during the week.

The Paralympics starts next week so I'll be back to work then, I cannot wait to cover those games.

Thanks for reading and if you've any tips on Rio, please get in contact with me on Twitter or Instagram. My username on both is: @ImJoeHarrington.


I'll be in Rio for the Paralympics in September to if you know any families or friends of the athletes or anyone that will be in Rio at that time, tell them to get in touch.

Read about my travels through Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Rio by clicking here.