Rio De Janeiro

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As a photographer, I'm extremely lucky to travel. I've got to go to some amazing places and for that I am really thankful. My latest jaunt was last week to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Now before I left, I obviously did a bit of research into the trip and things to look out for. One of the things that I was made aware of is that shiny expensive cameras are highly sought after by thieves and undesirables. Obviously the last thing I'd want is to be parted from my Olympus OM-D, so I set about making it appear rather more undesirable.

Olympus OM-D

To a lot of people, the OM-D looks like a vintage 35mm camera anyway, so I already had a good starting point. A quick trip to my local hardware store gave me the tools I needed to commence 'Project: Stealth'!

Gaffer tape and Rubawrap

As you can see below, rather than look all shiny and new, it looks old and tired, bordering on 'shabby chic', haha!

Rio-proofed OM-D

So, with my stealth camera sorted, I set off on my travels. My flight to Rio was from Heathrow via a change in Amsterdam. For some reason this was cheaper than a direct flight, despite flying back over the top of Heathrow. The plus side is that I flew over my East London flat, which was nice.

Whilst killing time in Amsterdam, I figured I'd get myself a much needed massage. This also randomly involved having eucalyptus scented oxygen blown up my nose while I waited. Anyway, I was soon on board my KLM flight to Rio De Janeiro, and after flying over London, we headed south to my destination.

I was staying in a favela whilst in Rio, which ordinarily wouldn't be a good idea, however, this particular one is now safe, not least because the Brazilian 'super police' are based there. The beauty of staying in a favela, apart from the awesome character they possess, is that due to being built up the hills, they all have epic views!

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As well as taking my usual digital photography paraphernalia (camera, memory card, laptop hard drives etc), I also packed an old 1970's Olympus PEN half frame camera to have a play with some 35mm film.

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The trip itself was epic! I got to see pretty much all the main sights, and a few more unexpected things, like a sloth hanging from a tree half way up to Corcovado.

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Rio is an awesome city, that's so full of character. I definitely recommend a trip there. As far as food goes, Brazilians are definitely up there when it comes to the art of barbecuing meat. They also have a whole load of restaurants than charge you for your food 'by weight', which is genius! I ate a lot! Only thing I probably wouldn't want to eat was Yucca. Yes, as in the plant. I had a few varieties of Yucca inspired dish, and it's definitely not going to be going on my last supper menu. You gotta try these things though, but I'll be sticking to barbecued meat on a stick next time, even if there is a strange dragon thing in the corner staring at me the entire time!

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In terms of sights, I started by going up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. This involved two cable cars, but it's one ticket and definitely worth doing as it's one of the most iconic mountains of the world.

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After coming back down the mountain, we grabbed a Churro from a street vendor (mine was filled with dulce du leche), and then headed off to Copacabana for a Caipirinha on the beach in the hazy afternoon sun.

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You can't go to one famous beach and not the other, so as well as Copacabana, I also took a trip to Ipanema to see if I could find me a girl from there, but alas, no luck!

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Yet another iconic landmark on Rio's horizon is Christ the Redeemer. Perched high above the city, it watches over the people below, and has the best view in all of Rio. We took a taxi up there, stopping at a few places en-route. It was half way up that we saw the sloth. I deliberately avoided doing the obligatory Christ pose for a photo, and then got amused at how many people do the arms 'wrong' despite being stood directly under the statue!

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I couldn't stay in a favela without going for a wander and taking some photos. This is definitely where my stealth camera proved it's worth! Favela's are truly wondrous places! They're technically illegal, and none of the buildings conform to any sort of regulation. As such, you'll often see buildings wider at the top than at the bottom. The electrical arrangements need to be seen to be believed, and the amount of narrow passages and steps make it easy to get lost if you don't know where you're going.

But you know what? It all works! As far as I'm aware, none of them have ever fallen down (other than after a landslide which is a lack of ground underneath), so it kinda makes you wonder if some regulations are a little over the top!

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Supposedly one of the top buildings to see before you die, I also took a boat over the water to see the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1996, the museum sits on the side of a hill slope like a flying saucer out of a 60's B-Movie.

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In total, I was in Rio for 5 days, and at no point did I get bored. The weather for the most part was between 27-30ºC. It did, however, rain on the morning before we headed up to Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer. This was a good thing in a way as it meant there were far less people up there.

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So that was my trip to Rio. Here's the rest of the photos I took around the city, and on the way home...