Tag Archives: Rio de Janiero

Our Ghetto Apartment in a Fab Location

25 Mar

A few months before the trip started, we had difficulty finding reasonable housing in Rio. All of the hotels in Copacabana and Ipanema are extremely expensive (upwards of $300/night), and the hostels are dirty and somewhat unsafe. We decided to give Airbnb a shot. There seemed to be a few reasonable options in some prime areas, and we booked a place that was in a great location for $78/night.

It turns out that this place sucks and you get what you pay for! The reviews were all glowing…up until about a week before we checked in. We got nervous but told ourselves it was okay, because maybe the recent disgruntled reviews came from high maintenance folks or something, and that it couldn’t be that bad. So the verdict?

The studio apartment itself is clean, wifi is consistent and fast, there’s a washing machine, and the bed is decently comfortable, but it goes downhill from there. The refrigerator door is falling off its hinges. The bathroom is a small, damp, and dirty place. The toilet seat is pretty scratched up and is painful to sit on for more than a few minutes. The washing machine dumps the dirty water back into the shower to drain! And the gas in the kitchen leaks badly, forcing me to turn off the main gas at all times except when Jeannie showers (it’s so hot here in Rio that I shower cold). We wouldn’t dare try cooking here with this gas leak. We have to be careful to not leave food out because of ants (they are tiny here though). While our host was showing us around, we saw a huge cockroach. Luckily after our host got rid of it, we haven’t seen any since, although we have seen cockroaches in markets, restaurants, and on the street. We can hear our neighbors at all hours of the day and night. (They seem to like 90s Top 40 music!)

Despite the misgivings, it has been very convenient to do laundry with a machine. The last time our clothes were laundered by a machine was 2.5 weeks ago in Easter Island, and it cost us $22. That sounds like a long time, but we’ve been alternating between cold and hot weather clothing all month, so it’s been manageable to go this long. It will be great to start off the Asia leg with a backpack of completely clean clothes though!

There is an AC unit that is fully functional, definitely a luxury that we have been taking advantage of! Though the fridge door is wonky, it is glorious and convenient to access our store-bought water, juices, and fruit immediately.

Also, this location can’t be beat. Our studio is located in a cul de sac with all high rise apartment buildings and a subway stop steps from our door. The front entrance of our building is locked during most of the day and you need to be buzzed in. The neighborhood feels pretty safe, there are lots of people with their children and dogs bustling about. Within a 2-3 block radius of us, there are numerous bus lines (the subway is limited), fully stocked supermarkets, restaurants, banks, and both Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

However, we can’t wait to leave this place tomorrow. Onward to Tokyo, one of the cleanest cities in the world!

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To Tour or Not To Tour

15 Feb

image via Cafepress

Many of the vacations I took as a kid were tour-based (6am wake-up call, only 1 hour in a museum that usually takes a solid afternoon to explore, 10 minute pee break or the bus leaves without you, buffets and chains galore).  Tours are a great option for those who like to just show up and leave the planning and itinerary up to someone else.  It’s not really our style to go on such tours, we find many tours to not be at a pace that we like (either way too slow or rushed).  But I know there will be days where I will just want to wake up and let someone show me around for the day.

So in the spirit of trying new things (or giving old things a chance), I’ve researched some tours for South America that I’m pretty excited about!

For Machu Picchu, we booked with Llama Path based on our friends N+M’s recs.
In Santiago, I’m leaning towards the Spicy Chile walking tours, and in Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires Free Tour has rave reviews.
Hielo y Aventura is a must for Patagonia.

Other places we’ll probably forgo tours are Easter Island and Iguazu Falls.  We’re undecided on whether we’ll go on a favela tour in Rio.  Would you do a favela tour?

So what’s the verdict folks?  Do you love tours for its convenience and ease, stay away cus it’s not your cup of tea, or are you like us and somewhere in between?  Share in the comments or in the poll below!

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