Blame it on Rio
Following a great week on Ilha Grande, our next stop was Rio de Janeiro. For better or worse, the return trip to Rio was far less eventful than my adventures getting there! We had booked a ferry ride from Abraao to the port town of Conceição de Jacareí, as well as a van transfer from the port to Rio. I know… boring! Blame it on Rio, but I think my sense of adventure and spontaneity was at an all-time high after that first day of travel.
Have pre-arranged transport was a very convenient and efficient method of travel though, and just a few hours later we were in sunny Rio! After a week of hostels, we upgraded ourselves to a luxurious stay at the Windsor Excelsior Hotel, front and center on Copacabana beach.
As much of a travel bargain hunter as I am, I have to give my friend Ryan credit for this one. We were initially planning to stay in another hostel or use Airbnb for our stay in Rio. However, due to the massive New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city, all of those options were astronomically expensive. Our best option was to stay in a hostel far away from the action, either spending $150 USD for a private room or slightly less to share a dorm-style room with a dozen strangers. I had just resigned myself to bunking up with some gap-year teenagers when Ryan found an online deal at the Windsor. It had a rooftop, a pool, and most importantly, did not involve bunk beds and communal showers! At $245/night, it wasn’t exactly cheap, but a steal for New Year’s Eve on the beach. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of the trip! Especially because a few hours after booking, the price of the hotel went back up around $700/night. Most likely a currency conversion error on the website’s part, but it was great luck for us. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Copacabana as the ideal neighborhood to stay in while in Rio for most of the year (too touristy and sterile; think Times Square), but for New Year’s Eve it was the perfect location, and I was really happy to be there.
After settling into our new digs we decided to explore the neighborhood a bit and pick up some supplies (beer, water, and biscoitos!). Without the island breezes of Ilha Grande and all of the tropical foliage, you can really feel the heat in Rio. It was over 100F every day we were there, so despite wearing my big hat and sunglasses, and trying to find shade beside the buildings, it really was melting weather. But with scenery like this, you just want to be out and about!