How to make things complicated in Rio (or not)

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1. Making phonecalls on Copacabana

Norwegian cell phones do hardly work at Copacabana (although they did work at Ipanema). When you travel 6 people together, this means you have to do it the 1990’ies way: Agree on when and where to meet (which can be a challenge).

2. Sending sms’es on Copacabana

When you send a text message from Copacabana, you are never sure when and if it will arrive. And the promised free WIFI in Royal Rio Hotel, is slightly overrated. It only works in the rooms closest to the reception. So you need to use the 1990’ies way here as well.

3. Communicating in general

Most people in Rio de Janeiro do not speak English at all. You can always try Spanish, because many of the words look similar. But the Cariocas pronounce it totally differently. And Portugese pronounciation seems impossible to learn.

However we have picked up on some words, that are more useful than others:

  1. Obrigado (obrigada for females) = thank you
  2. Sim = yes
  3. Nao = no (for chasing away salesmen at Copacabana)
  4. Bom = good
  5. Mau = bad
  6. Elevador = lift
  7. Quanto e? = How much is it?
  8. A conta por favor = The bill, please!
  9. Mais um = One more
  10. 10.  Tchau = Goodbye

 4. Trying to withdraw cash December 28th (at noon)

This is probably the most stupid time to choose for a visit at the ATM in Rio. You see, in Brazil people don’t just withdraw cash at the ATMs, they actually go there to pay their bills. And it is all superviced by armed guards (from ’Terminator’ or something). Since we are wheelchair users, we ended up in the ”Prioridades” line. At first I thought this meant VIP. What it really meant was the line with all the 80-year old women who were paying their bills before New Years Eve. And of course only 50 % of the ATMs in the bank were working. After standing in line for ages watching old people fumble with zip codes, pin codes and whatever code required to pay some bills and get some cash, the people in line started to get grumpy. Suddenly someone pushed me over to the other line. But when I tried my Master Card it turned out they only accepted VISA. Oh joy! The next day (with a VISA) it was no problem however…

5. Fixing a flat tire

Ingrid had too little air in her tires. So we filled them up to the maximum at a petrol station.  This turned out to be a stupid ide (mine of course). Two days later she had a bump on her wheelchair tire and it looked like it might explode any time soon. Since we feared that New Years Eve and the days after were probably not the best days to get a flat tire in Rio, we Googled a bicycle shop at Avenida Atlantica.

They didn’t have a spare tire, but they did make an effort to stop the tire from exploding. Hopefully it will endure a few more days of sightseeing.

6. Getting tickets to the funicular railway

The funicular railway is supposed to be accessible with a wheelchair (however we are not sure). But  if you are planning a visit to Corcovado with the funicular railway, make sure you make reservations in advance. We didn’t and had to stand in line with other stupidos who took an expensive taxi up the hill.


7. Loosing your entrance card or passport

Make sure you hold on to your entrance card (cartao de entrada) that you fill out on the airplane. You might be asked to show this during your stay, and you will definitely have to show it when leaving Brazil. Holding on to your passport can also be a good thing. Two of us thought we had lost our passports for a short while. However after searching the room, lobby and pavement it turned out they were hiding under the bed. So we don’t have any travel tips regarding this ”challenge”. However we have a feeling it would have been rather complicated to fix it…

8. Getting into rooftop pools

Many Rio hotels have rooftop pools (or big bathtubs as we prefer to call them). Most of them have one or more stairways to get to. The solution is: Know someone with a private (and much cleaner) pool or get some Swedish guys (or Cariocas) to carry you up the stairs.

9. Finding a taxi with a large trunk

Finding a taxi in Rio is really easy. There are 30.000 taxis in Rio and they obviosly have too little to do. It only takes a few minutes to get a yellow taxi and they all have a meter and ID. The problem is that many of them have really small trunks. And the ones you think might have a big trunk, might have the smallest one. This is because they have a gas tank in the trunk (and little or no room for luggage). This calls for creative solutions. Most taxi drivers accept that you bring the chair inside the car if you remove the wheels (it’s good to have someone to help you assemble the parts on arrival though).

10. Getting drunk

If you order drinks in Rio (especially at night) you will get drinks that are 2-3 times as strong as you are used to in Norway. If you are not aware of this (and don’t take precautions), you can end up getting canacas in Copacabana. The solution is: Drink beer instead (the local ones are not bad at all) and/or have good friends around to watch out for you!

I realize that this blog post perhaps makes holiday in Rio de Janeiro sound very complicated. It’s not, really. It just takes some patience and  flexibility. But most things work out…

We are still very happy to be here! 🙂


No Wonder We Missed Stevie Wonder

Sugar in the morning