Guide to RIO DE JANEIRO

(Updated February 2019)

Rio de Janeiro could be the most beautiful city on the planet: The ocean, the beaches, the hills, the vegetation, the views….I could go on and on.

Icons of Rio de Janeiro unite! The Sugar Loaf to the left, the Dois Irmãos all the way in the back at the end of the beaches, Christ the Redeemer and one of the many favelas. You can see all this going up by tram to the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa.

But then there is the poverty, the violence, the hopelessness, the corruption, the dirt….I could go on and on.

this way to read the whole story >>>

The Voice of Colors: Rita, Eduardo, and Jorge in Rio

Streetart is becoming more and more not only tolerated, but recognized and promoted. Especially in South America, it has a long tradition – as a medium where colors give the people a voice.

#favelismo – an art movement turning poverty and humiliation into power and pride. That’s what great street art stands for.

I’m introducing Rita Wainer, Eduardo Kobra, and Jorge Selarón, three of the greatest urban artists that left ineradicable traces in Rio de Janeiro.

this way to read the whole story >>>

I am what I am…

…and what I am needs no excuses – the beginning of Gloria Gaynor’s evergreen is the perfect intro to this post, which deals with my perspective on the Carnival in Rio, an extremely gay event – gay in every sense of the word.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Bar on the Copacabana beach

Carnival in Brazil – yay or nay? Spoiler alert: I am what I am, and what I am is not a person who likes carnival; anywhere in the world.

Brazilian carnival is world famous, on many travellers’ bucket lists, so you probably have to be a major grouch not to have a great time and enjoy yourself like crazy.

However, I don’t like carnival.

You might think I’m just a pathetic loser with no sense of humor whatsoever.
But that’s not true, you can ask anybody who has known me for five minutes that I am great fun and ready to say the darndest things. I’m just not the dropping pants-falling water buckets-smashing cream cake-red nose-funny hat-kind of humorous.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Party crowd at the otherwise rather idyllic Largo dos Guimarães in the Santa Teresa district.

And I detest crowds. Even if I would participate in a freedom march, I’d prefer to march by myself than in a crowd. But especially vinous party crowds give me the creeps.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
This pretty lady – a street vendor in Belo Horizonte – came closest to the image I had of the carnival in Brazil.

I do like the carnival-ladies in the micro sequin bikinis shaking there not so micro behinds. I like the drummers drumming with vigor. But this takes place only at the Sambadrome where the Samba schools compete.
The real carnival is a bender at every corner in the city.
I’m actually not that crazy about ridiculously accessorized drunks. Nowhere in the world.

There is a carnival in Germany, too. Fortunately, it’s outsourced to the Rhine-Main-area so you can give it a wide berth. Surprisingly the German carnival is pretty much the same thing like the one in Rio: Hordes of disguised drunks are stumbling and staggering through the streets, their make up slowly dissolving, bumping into each other, blocking roads. Since in Germany it’s cold at carnival season, they mostly cover up (big thumb up!). In Rio, it’s 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) at 9 p. m., so people walk around basically naked.
It’s only February and I’ve had my share of bare chests for the rest of the year.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Bare chests – unadorned version…

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
….bare chests – glittering version.

The latino macho’s favorite costume is a skirt. Skirts seem to be the most hilarious – or maybe coolest – thing a man can wear. I wonder whether the Scots are aware of that.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Individual tutu….

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
….group tutu – and of course bare chests.

You might think at least the music is rhythmic and latino and hot so you cannot stand still.
Well, it’s not, take it from me.
Some tacky techno-merengue-mix-songs are blaring from boom boxes and the crowds are blaring along. My Portuguese is sufficient to understand that some of the lyrics must be quite X-rated.
Makes me wonder whatever happened to Barry Manilow’s Lola, the showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Nope, no yellow feathers.

The worst thing is that as people drink a lot, nature calls; and as soon as they hear it calling, they open the door naked; metaphorically and unfortunately literally.
The sharp stench of ammonia is everywhere; sometimes mixed with the stink of vomit.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
#CoisaBOA is a campaign by Antarctica beer dealing in a fun way with different issues that might occur during the carnival. Here it says that it’s a good thing (= coisa boa) to make xixi – I presume that you don’t need a translation for this one… – only in a bathroom. The bad thing (which for the record would be coisa ruim) is that obviously, not many people took notice of this billboard.

This makes me think of another song, the first big success of one of the earliest hip hop bands, namely Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: “….people pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care” (from “The Message”)

Furious Five – that sounds pleasantly grumpy. I think I would spend a great carnival in the company of the Furious Five: We would drink just a bit, maybe get a hit or two from a spliff and roll our eyes on all these self-proclaimed clowns.
We would use the mobile toilets that are everywhere at people’s disposal – and I bet the Furious Five would keep their shirts on.


Wanna know what happened before? Here are the previous lessons:

Class of Brazil – 1st Lesson: We Have it Good

Class of Brazil – 2nd Lesson: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

Class of Brazil – 3rd Lesson: It is a Hellish Path to a Heavenly Place


Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Cambodia, while travelling, I’ll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.


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