Brazil: About spectacular waterfalls, home away from home and paranoia in Rio

Currently the movie “Beauty and the beast” is screened in the cinemas. That’s how I felt about Brazil. On the one hand amazingly beautiful nature like the Iguazu waterfalls, stunning beaches, amazing 19th century architecture, creative street art. A country full of history, diversity and great people. On the other hand – especially after our robbery with weapons in Colombia – a whole week in Rio on my own was a real challenge for me.

Read about why ist quite exhausting to be a photo model in Rio, people thougth I was Brazilian and how to survive the Iguazu waterfalls kind of dry.

Exploring Rio de Janeiro with Newton Leitão from Further Rio (photos by Newton)

Should I, shouldn’t I – well, okay, I will do it and travel to Brazil on my own. Unfortunately I am currently at the other side of the continent – in San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) – almost 2,000 kilometer away. Super clever travel planning Fräulein globetrotter.

Foto by Newton Leitão

Spoiled by Colombian budget airlines I wanted to cope that distance by flight – SkyScanner finally told me that it is obviously cheaper to fly from Germany to Brazil than from Chile. Well then – hello again beloved night busses!

So I am heading from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), via Salta (Argentina), Asuncion (Paraguay) to Foz do Iguazu (Brazil). For European distances it would mean to go from Berlin to Madrid by bus and doing a short stopover in Zurich – as it is on the route…. At least I have been to Paraguay this way and can totally understand why so many Germans love it there – also immediately felt home and welcomed.


At the border from Paraguay to Brazil I am meeting Kade and Peter – great and funny Germans. We will find out that we like each other a lot and will meet again in Uruguay and Argentina. But first it is time to discover the Iguazu waterfalls from the Argentinian side together.

Iguazu waterfalls from Argentinian side

I am absolutely impressed seeing this amount of water in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest and despite my seasickness I am getting on a boat to have the full experience from below.

Let’s face it – you will get soaked totally. So instead of thinking about taking lots of rain jackets (going under a waterfall has nothing to do with rain) just go with sports clothes, your bikini and have take same spare wardrobe afterwards – it’s a pretty wet but fun experience 🙂


Florianopolis with Gui – and my first time famous Brazilian Acai

After many Brazilians told me Florianopolis would be the best place in the world, I was finally following an invitation of my friend Gui who has the pleasure to live there. He and his landlord Django immediately made me feel home – lot of nature around, horses next to the beautiful openly designed house, perfect beaches just a short motorbike-ride away. Thank you so much Gui for your hospitality and your time to show me this beautiful place on earth!


While people in Florianopolis asked me in Portuguese if I was Brazilian (the German immigration towns Blumenau and Pommerod are just 3 hours away), everyone was staring at me in Rio as if TOURIST was printed on my head. The numerous warnings especially of Brazilians made me (especially after the robbery in Colombia) pretty paranoid being there for one week on my own – Amazing – going to Rio – ON MY OWN – with PARANOIA….

In Rio on my own – Foto by Newton Leitão

To make it short – I survived without being robbed or raped.

Sightseeing in Rio – Photo by Newton Leitão

Basically I left all my jewellery and designer backpacker clothes in the hostel ;-P and well, my iPhone got robbed in Colombia anyhow. In general I did not walk around on my own a lot but mainly with other tourists by joining free walking tours to explore the beautiful sides of Rio like the historical artist quarter Santa Teresa, downtown and the new harbour city.

At the end of one of the tours my guide called me a taxi to go home even if I lived just 500 meters away – for security reasons she emphasized. I think that was for sure the shortest taxi ride I ever had in my whole life.

Like in Canada and in the US I am getting aware again how much this part of the world is influenced by immigration, slavery and wars for independence. The guide explained that till 1880 more than 3 million slaves were brought from Africa, fed in feed houses to look healthy to be sold at auctions and send allover Brazil for work.

Faces of Rio – made for the Olympics – Photo by Newton Leitão

In Santa Teresa she showed us a beautiful mansion rich on decoration and points towards the cellar – an iron fence is covering the windows of the slaves living rooms. This tour actually gave me goose bumps – quite different to be at the places where it happened than just get it tough from books. 

After a few days in Rio I still don’t feel secure enough to walk through the city on my own. Probably I am just paranoid to see a weapon again. But Rio is beautiful and I want to explore it without having stomach ache all the time. For this reason I am deciding to explore the rest of the city with Newton from Further Rio.

Maybe I will become a ballerina – photo by Newton Leitão

He is organizing customized city tours, which include a photo shooting around the city. I really loved it to pose everywhere, enjoyed the time and realized how hard it is for models to keep and change the position all the time. Thanks to Newton I now got beautiful shots in front of the major sights of Rio and day full of great memories. Can totally recommend this tour!

Exploring beaches at Ipanema and Copacabana – Photo bei Newton Leitão
Exploring Rio with Newton Leitão
Spotted a monkey in the bamboo forest of sugarloaf mountain – photo by Newton Leitão
Cable car a sugarloaf mountain – photo by Newton Leitão
Photo by Newton Leitão
Photo by Newton Leitão
Photo by Newton Leitão

I am now looking forward to meet Peter and Kade again in Montevideo (Uruguay) and to explore Argentina and Chile with my friend Linda from Hamburg. It is just great to share experiences with loved people.