July 20, 2010 GMT
Arriving in Rio

The temperature had been steadily rising during our stay in Paraty, and as we came closer to Rio, the heat coming off the road was uncomfortable. We rode into Rio, over numerous bridges and under yet more mountains, Christ the Redeemer looked down on us as we drew closer to the centre of the city, and we followed the directions of the GPS to a hostel in Botafogo.
Generally, we had found the descriptions of the hostels in guidebooks and on the Internet sites as being quite honest, when we rolled up to the hostel in Botafogo, we knew there was something amiss.
On closer inspection, we noticed that the pictures of the dormitories and bathrooms were from an entirely different hotel, not even a hostel, the staff were indifferent to the point of rudeness, and the rules, covering most of the walls in the reception, were exhausting.
We had stayed in some strange places on the trip so far, some of them had some strange regulations, rules that you would hope weren’t necessary, and excessive signage. This place had all of that, and some.
“Only one person on the toilet at a time”
“No shouting after midnight” “Please don’t fill the fridge up with Beer”
“Don’t brush your teeth in the kitchen sink, it’s disgusting” (is it?)
“Flush the Loo after you Poo” and other classics adorned the walls of the hostel.
We were put in a dorm with no fan, no air con and no windows, and were told that the rate quoted on the Internet was incorrect and had now gone up. We took the grumpy reception staff to task, and soon found that almost every guest in the hostel had a gripe about something or other, and soon there were a dozen disgruntled guests behind me voicing their complaints, which must have proved to much for the receptionists, who after telling us to go forth and multiply, promptly walked out of the building, leaving a group of dazed and confused travellers in their wake. We looked at each other, exchanged looks that said “ oh well, its South America”…
The place didn’t create a good first impression, but the guests were all pretty cool, and a bunch of us headed out in search of sustenance. The hostel was located close to a supermarket, but as all the kitchen utensils were under lock and key, and the keyholders had just left the building, home cooking was out of the question. We were looking for more of a street food option, but it appeared that the only thing the hostel was close to was the supermarket. We couldn’t find a restaurant, a café or a bar anywhere around our hostel, and decided our evening might be better spent on the computer looking for alternative accommodation for the rest of the time we were going to be in Rio.
When we returned to the hostel, replacement receptionists were in place, who didn’t look up from their mobile phones or facebook accounts when we came in. This really wasn’t the sort of Brazilian hospitality we had previously experienced, and we couldn’t wait to get out of there.
We moved into another hostel down the road in Ipanema the next morning. Our hostel was in a small mews type street, with maybe 6 or 7 houses on each side of the street, of which 8 were hostels. The vibe in the street was always upbeat, travellers were always in and out and it was a cool place to hang out and meet people and get good tips where to go, where to eat and what to see.

Posted by Dan Shell at July 20, 2010 03:35 PM GMT
 
 

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