20% - That was one of our goals when we booked the trip for Rio De Janeiro. We wanted to fall within the 20% of those that visit Brazil that don't get mugged. The other goal, Christ the Redeemer. This was going to be both of our sixth modern wonder of the world, and sadly our seventh wasn't the same.
A lot more planning went into this trip. From safety, areas to absolutely avoid, places of interests, and most of all clothes that would conceal phones, cards, and necessities...again, to hopefully avoid being mugged.
Rio De Janeiro
First stop, of course, Concovado Mountain to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Knocking off another Modern Wonder from the bucket list. In addition to the statue, it also came with a breathtaking view of the city below. Seeing the different neighborhoods and favelas scattered around. A clear separation of wealth and poverty.
Next, Parque Lage and Botanical Garden, a park at the base of Concovado Mountain. Immediately as we approached the atrium of the mansion I couldn't help but have Snoop Dogg and Pharrell playing in my head, "Beautiful". Seeing that video back in 2002, it was spot on. Everywhere I looked, I couldn't help but hum the tune. Was so catchy.
Continuing with following in the footsteps of Snoop, Santa Teresa was the most logical to venture next. Walking through this quirky neighborhood of art, vibrant colors, and steep winding streets, it was almost easy to let our guard down and forget all the hype of Rio being a dangerous city. Was a cute, quant area. The Selaran Steps (Escadaria Selaran) was the main attraction. Arriving just before sun down, the crowds were minimal, leaving the steps almost just to ourselves. Church of our lady of the Candelaria was our last stop just before dark. Such a beautiful church, with a heavy history.
After dark in Rio is not in a tourists best interests. Once the sun starts to go down, find a safe place and call an Uber back to the hotel. Why risk? Again, we're not looking to be one of the 80%.
Copacabana - classic and famous beach. No, we weren't in Rio during the prime season, but still it did not disappoint. People working out on the sand, volleyball courts, and even with overcast sky the weather wasn't too hot but still a bit muggy (no pun intended).
We had one more stop on the list before we headed to Sao Paulo to finish out our trip. Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain. We attempted to go up the day before, but the low clouds would have left visibility nil to nothing. Morro da Urca is the first stop of a cable car ride up to Sugarloaf Mountain. Allowing for more views overlooking the beautiful city of Rio.
Sao Paulo, the financial center of Brazil. Still with the plan to not get mugged (Yes! this was our main topic of the trip), suiting me up with hiding items in my "garments" and we headed out.
A main stop was Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo. Probably not making the smartest choice to walk through some sketch areas to get there. Rehan putting on his "mean" face and me nonchalantly, but confidently, making eye contact with those we passed and just kept on walking without any sense of hesitation. We arrived at the food hall. Rows and rows of stalls. Then upstairs filled with restaurants (I won't deny it, we ate most our meals here).
Now, when most trip advisory sites rate a church one of the top 10 attractions in a city but one of the most dangerous for tourists to visit, we had to debate our odds. So far we were on the winning side of safety. Maybe tempt it a little more? Rehan putting on his best stank face, we made the walk for Catedral da se de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo Cathedral). The cathedral was beautiful. A sort of typical Roman Catholic, gothic revival mix. Inside was stunning, outside structure itself even more breathtaking, turning around and facing the park that it adjoins to... terrifying, but strangely familiar. We laughed. It felt like home. Walking past drug addicts and homeless, all of which was no different than walking through downtown Portland. Of course, keeping our phones hidden, limited photo's, and not being an irresponsible unknowing tourist, we were good.
Our trip was sadly coming to an end. I was going to miss shoving three phones in my bra, along with cash and cards hidden in a secret pocket inside my pants... we had one more stop. Liberdade. Home to the world's largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan. Also, one of the most prone areas to be pick pocketed. Its game time. Bumped into, shoved, and pushing our way through crowds, all items still tucked snug and safe in their hiding spots on my body.
We are 20%!