Well it seems that some of the horror stories about people getting robbed near the beaches are in fact true, as I’ve heard quite a few first-person accounts from folks that have been rolled. I chatted to a bunch of young English and Northern Irish lads at Shenanigans, an Irish bar in Ipanema last night, and one guy had been ripped off THREE TIMES in the space of a week or so in Rio! I haven’t had any dodgy experiences so far, but needless to say, I’m not taking many valuables out with me.

Today was a fairly quiet day, both because the weather wasn’t so great for sightseeing, and also because I was quite hungover when I woke up and was tired all day. I did manage to move hotels; I switched from the ideally situated but very basic San Marco hotel in Ipanema, which was about $40 a night, to the considerably more fancy and central Rio Copa hotel in Copacabana, for around $60 a night. The difference in the rooms for the extra $20 is huge –double the space, a window with a view of a mountain instead of an airshaft, a hugh comfy double bed instead of a narrow strip of foam, and cable TV with lots of English-language channels (including BBC World) etc. Copacabana is a little more seedy and downmarket than Ipanema, but Ipanema is still only a short cab-ride away, and I’m also closer to the Metro now for trips into the Centro.

I ventured away from the beaches today briefly too, and took the tram ride into the Santa Teresa neighbourhood. It was great; the rickety little tram climbs up out of the Centro over an old aquaduct, and clims up through narrow cobbled streets with amazing views. I also rode the tram just as all the school kids were coming out of school, so it was a riot of noise and activity, with laughing children precariously hanging off the running boards and running alongside jumping on and off. On the way back I followed the advice of my guide book to the letter, and stopped off for some supposedly authentic (although how would I know otherwsie?) northern Brazilian food in a famous cafe. The name of the cafe escapes me right now, but the food was good, plentiful and interesting.

I also watched most of the Olympic womens’ soccer between Brazil and the USA; a hard-fought match in which the Americans won 2:1. I thought the Brazilians were unlucky not to win; they played with more skill and imagination, I thought, but lost their focus towards the end.

Well, better sign off — Internet access is comparatively very expensive at my new hotel, running to about $10 USD an hour.

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