Downtown Rio, also called Centro, is an intriguing and curious part of Rio de Janeiro. Once the bustling social, financial and commercial centre of Rio it has a colourful past and has undergone some recent developments over the years. Most noticeably the opening of a new museum.
We went exploring on a blistering hot Sunday morning. Centro is currently the financial district of Rio, the Petrobras (google 'Petrobras scandal' for hours of diversions) head quarters are here, and sky high office blocks leap up from everywhere. This means that on the weekend there is nobody around. It fees like a zombie apocalypse. But still we braved the eerily quite (and slightly creepy) trip downtown for the sake of my younger sibling. The purpose for our trip was for my photography mad brother to get 'the shot' of the iconic stained glass of the Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião. From the outside the church looks like a beehive, inside it's modern but it's still a surprisingly restful and peaceful place.
Dying of sun exposure and grouchy because we (read: my brother and I) were hungry we thankfully stumbled upon a little street food and organic fair. Within the first second of our arrival my brother made a beeline for the 'Espirito do Proco' stand and in about two bites devoured a pork and apple sauce sandwich.
This market was clearly where all the people were hiding out. When we arrived and when I took the pictures it wasn't very busy but once we'd had the chance to look around and eat (again for my brother...) the place was getting full.
My Portuguese speaking is very limited (I can order food and caipirinhas but that's about it), but having studied French and a bit of Spanish my understanding of spoken Portuguese isn't so bad. So despite my speech impediment the people at the market were so friendly and engaging. They patiently explained to us in slow and steady Portuguese, the different things they were selling and some even talked English with us, which is quite rare. It was great to see people so passionate about their creations, and to take the time with us.
When I first visited the downtown area I didn't really see the appeal. Living in Ipanema we're very spoilt, whereas parts of downtown are full of ugly office blocks and skyscrapers (glass facades à la Donald Trump).
But then there are stunning old buildings straight out of the 19th century when people first arrived in Rio. Many of these haven't been renovated for a long and for the most part nobody lives in them. There's a certain morbid charm to everything. It's sad to see these beautiful buildings so neglected and to imagine that's how all of Rio used to look. I don't know what possesses people to build such ugly glass buildings sometimes.
Christmas has approached so quickly this year and I'm not really in the Christmas spirit, we don't have a tree this year and the weather isn't exactly wintery. However, as a family Christmas present we're off on a little trip to a town called Paraty. My parents have been twice already and have said it's beautiful. I'll most likely be doing a blog post but in the meantime you can follow my adventures on Instagram.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas, here's to good health and being with your loved ones.