This was by far the funniest thing that happened to us in Brazil. One day we had booked a free walking tour through the city centre online. It said that the meeting point was the metro station “Uruguaiana“. So we ordered an Uber and the driver looked at us surprised and said that it wasn’t a safe area and asked why we were going there.
We were a bit confused because why would the walking tour start in a shady area? He also told us to not take our phones out on the street and to take care of our bags. When we got off the car we were trying to find the group of the walking tour but they were nowhere around.
Of course, the first thing we did was taking out our phones to check where we actually were. A woman approached us and asked if we needed help. She also said that we should hide our phones because people could just grab them from our hands and run away. For safety reasons she suggested entering the clothes shop right next to us to help us.
That was when we realised it: We were not at the station “Uruguaiana“, which is in the city centre, but at the station “Uruguai” which is further away. We had mixed up the names of the two stations. Laughing about our own stupidity we tried to find out how to get to the place we were supposed to go and took the metro to get there. We were a bit frustrated because we had obviously missed the free walking tour. But then destiny was good to us:
On the escalator of the metro station an elderly man behind us started talking to us in German. He was from Germany but had lived his whole life in Brazil. We talked to him for a while and told him about our situation. He was really kind and offered to show us around for a bit. Happily we accepted the offer and it turned out that he used to be a guide for private tours and he was extremely well educated. Whatever we asked about the history of Rio or Brazil, he knew the answer. At the end of the day he offered to show us more of the city and invite us for Apfelstrudel in the “Club of Germans and Austrians” on another day. We couldn’t believe our luck and exchanged contact details with him.
The next day we waited for him at the meeting point and unexpectedly he showed up in his car. We were surprised because we thought that we’d visit the places on foot again. Nevertheless, we got into his car (I know, very naive, he could have been a kidnapper after all) and we drove towards the national park Tijuca. He showed us places which we would have never seen without a car. It was amazing. We stopped at a waterfall, at several view points and then he took us to the new part of Rio. The new Rio seemed like a modern American city and was completely different to the rest of the city. Later on we drove to the “Club of Germans and Austrians” where we went swimming in the pool and got our promised Apfelstrudel.
It was a great day and the German man was also happy to have some Austrian company. We had missed out on the free walking tour but eventually we got a way better private tour, met a kind person and had an awesome time.
What does this teach us? Things that seem bad in the beginning might still lead to something surprisingly good in the end.