Friday, September 25, 2015

14th – Lapa

It was only natural the second neighbourhood we explored in depth would be Lapa, as it lies between Santa Teresa (where we were staying the first part of our trip) and Centro. Known for its architecture, its aqueduct (I can' t believe how I forgot to take a photo of it!), and numerous bars and restaurants, if there's one place a tourist will visit in Rio, it's probably this one. And if there is one single sight, it's gotta be that one in the photos above and below – the Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selarón).

With 250 steps and over 2000 tiles from over 60 countries, this eclectic work by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón is a real must-see. Now, the walk up back home from Lapa was a true pain in the ass. It's so much harder to walk uphill after a whole day of sightseeing! But I digress. Lapa offered us an interesting bazaar, where I almost bought a menorah. There was something romantic about getting my first menorah in Rio, but it was too expensive and we didn't feel like bargaining. 

Also, besides curious paraphernalia, we found a capoeira group! This was capoeira Angola, it seems, as the moves were rather playful and dance-like. It was fun listening to the music and watching the group. I mean, what better place in the world to see capoeira than in Brazil, right? 

That and the views of the colourful old buildings, of the nearby cathedral, and of the odd piece of art made for a very nice walk. Ah... Rio!

And talking about architecture, there was plenty of it, especially from the early 20th century, and in hues of yellow, pink, orange, red, blue... glad they were not shy about their use of colour!

Finally, the food. Since this was my first time in Brazil, I decided to venture and try a number of non-vegan dishes. I've mentioned it before – if it's about trying something new, I may decide to eat animal products, which I rationalize by remembering that over 99% of my meals are vegan. So, why did I try then?

Well, for one, feijoada. Supposedly the quintessential carioca dish. And probably my one and only non-vegan foray where I felt like I had used up my "non-vegan pass" needlessly. Sure, I had never tried it. So at least it was new. But a pork and sausage stew with beans, kale-like greens, white rice and farofa, a sort of manioc flower that resembled sawdust, only very slightly tastier. Really meh. But now I know what this famous dish is about.

We also tried a place called Bar Brazil. Dating from 1907! And apparently originally called Bar Adolf, but with the WWII events leading to a wise change of name. A very German place, with very German food. And where I had some sausage with sauerkraut and a potato salad. And unlike my feijoada experiment, this one was worth it! I can live perfectly well without sausages, but I have to say this place had some damn good food. Glad we had the patience to line-up, 'cause it was packed!

So, that's Santa Teresa (my previous post on this trip) and Lapa so far. Both very different from each other, and also very different from the other places we visited. Honestly, this was one rich, fun, amazing trip. As I hope to manage to convey in future posts!

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