Every road leads to Rio – at least in Brazil that´s how it seemed to be. Literally everybody, Brazilians as other travelers, exceeded each other in praising this “amazing”, “gorgeous”, “impressive”, “unique and very special” city with “breathtaking” beaches. It was the one place you were not supposed to miss. So I went, saw it and I have to say: Rio, sorry – but I am not impressed!
Rio, in my mind, was the personification of Brazil. Unfortunately, there was little that reminded me of Brazil. Sure, Rio has Samba, the Sugar Cane and the Christ – but does it impersonate the colorful, bubbly spirit of Brazil? Not really …
First of all, I think I spent more time on a bus stuck in traffic than actually walking around the city. Traffic is INSANE and people that live in Rio told me that they spend – easily – four hours a day on a bus. Amazing?? Only if you love car watching A LOT.
Second, Rio is pretty gray. Sure, you can see some cool graffiti but a playful explosion of colorful buildings? Nope.
Third, the beaches are disgusting. Who, I mean, who started the rumor about Copacabana being Brazil´s most beautiful beach? If you go on the wrong days, it´s so much trash lying around, you cannot even walk along the beach. I saw pants, flip flops, candy wrappers, pants, broken umbrellas and beer cans. I did not see white sand and blue water (also because looking around is somehow impeded by trying to avoid getting hit by a ball from the herds of soccer players hanging out). Dream beach? Ehm … hell no!!!!
Forth, Rio does not have any personality. If you are looking for a city with personality in Brazil – go to Olinda. If you are looking for a colorful city full of music and culture – go to Salvador. If you are looking for a charming, cute city – go to Ouro Preto. If you are looking for amazing beaches, go to Joao Pessoa. If you are looking for a big city with nothing special – go to Rio!
Yes, Rio is a nice city and, maybe, if it´s you´re first stop in Brazil it might even be lovely. I also won´t deny that I heard some GREAT Samba and met wonderful people there, but is Rio my favorite Brazilian city? Definitely not!