The 13 hour night bus flew by and we arrived in Rio shortly after 9am. We jumped in a cab and made our way to our hostel. From outside of the hostel you'd never guess it was a backpackers, it was covered by a huge wall, there was no sign saying the name of the place, it just looked the same as every other house on the street. One through the gate though it was clear it was a hostel. The guy on a reception we nicknamed Captain Disney. He spent the morning rehearsing what semt like every Disney song going. I needed to get away from it, so not being able to check in until 2 we left our bags and headed to the hostel where our friend Tom was staying. We didn't tell Tom we were in Rio and aimed to surprise him, it was quite a leap of faith really arriving and hoping he was at the hostel and not out anywhere. We got there around 11, and there was no sign of him, it semt like the hostel had a big night the night before and people were making their way downstairs looking a bit worse for wear so we thought Tom might still be recovering. We got a beer and chilled out eagerly waiting for Tom's arrival. We were like meerkats every time a door opened seeing if it was him. An hour an half later, two beers down, we decided he was probably out so we went out got some food - a disappointing kebab, which reinforced my theory that kebabs are only nice when you are drunk. Then we went to the nearby beach. The beach in Rio was awesome. There were a couple of things that struck me about the beach; the first was the amount of female talent. I didn't know where to put my eyes they were like pinballs in a pinball machine going all over the place. There were boobs and bottoms all over the place. The other was the amount of football being played, it semt like every few steps there were groups of Brazilians doing kick ups, and they also had a game what can only be described as football volleyball and the Brazilians were also class at this. There is no wonder Brazilians produce quality footballers with skills like this. After casting our eye over the football skills and local talent on the beach we made our way back to Tom's hostel to see if he was there. He still wasn't so we decided to head back to the hostel where we could check-in and get a shower.
Captain Disney was now off duty thankfully. But the hostel then started taking a nose dive, a list of rules were produced which we had to sign to agree too, it all semt a bit pedantic and they wanted to get extra money out of you anyway they could. It was the first hostel I'd been too which wanted to charge money for leaving your bags. Also if you wanted to stay in the hostel while waiting for a night bus or something similar you had to pay for an extra night which I thought was totally unreasonable. The hostel named Beach Backers, we thought presumably because it must be located right on the beach was probably located the furthest from the beach it could be. Then we got shown the room, and were greeted with three high bunk beds, luckily I got a bed in the middle and not the top bunk which was practically touching the ceiling. Then we discovered the hostel which at least hosted around 40 guests had only two showers in the whole building. The hostel was poor, not the cleanliness that was fine, maybe the only good thing I can say about the hostel. We might have thought differently if we hadn't been to Tom's hostel - Lemon Spirit, which semt really nice unfortunately we couldn't stop there though as it was fully booked.
We decided to message Tom, the idea of surprising him was great but we couldn't keep turning up at the hostel and hoping he was there. Typically we found out we had just missed him, 5 minutes after leaving Tom made was back in the hostel. We arranged to meet him back at his hostel where we could watch the England vs Honduras friendly game. The game was a forgettable 0-0 draw. But it was good to see Tom again and almost felt like we were back in Vietnam and nothing had changed. We met another couple of guys staying at his hostel, both Scottish Chris and Jon, and an Australian called Eric. The Lemon Spirit Hostel was a very friendly place, unlike ours where people were just sat keeping themselves to themselves. We had a few beers, went for food, went back to the hostel for more beers and then made our way to a suburb of Rio called Lapa. Lapa was renowned for its party atmosphere and bars and clubs. It had little market stalls that looked like Ice Cream stands which sold cocktails or food. We had a traditional Brazilian cocktail called Caipirinha. Now I've had my fair share of generous cocktails but these were ridiculous. I think I've become quite accustomed to drinking but a couple of these really knock you for six. I spent the rest of the night just making sure I could stand up. At 5.30am we took ourselves back to our hostel where I spent the entire taxi journey asking the driver who would win the world cup. I never got an answer; the language barrier was just too hard especially when being pissed. Even my best charades couldn't help me. I did try to test the language barrier out by boldly saying the taxi driver was a ******er but he didn't even flinch, but it would be the last time I would try that, and possibly any of them cocktails again.
I'd like to stay I woke up feeling fresh the next day but that would be a complete lie. I felt I'd been hit by a bus and then it reversed over me. In need of grease; I failed my challenge just a mere few weeks into the trip and had a couple of KFC burgers to sort out my stomach. It did ok but I wasn't fully ok until we made it too Leblon beach and I was hit by some crushing waves which semt to knock the hangover right out of me. There was only one thing for it then, a few more beers, one of Tom's friends - Jack had come over and we also had a beer with a cool Aussie guy called Robbie. We then went to get food, we decided on an all you can eat Pizza place. There were five of us, Earl, Tom, Jack, Scottish Chris and Myself, all Brits. I'm not sure the restaurant knew what hit it as we destroyed the pizza place, all having at least 10 slices each. This in contrast to three Australians who came just after us who managed just three slices each! What was that all abut were they girls? The pizzas were good, with such a variety of toppings garlic, olives, pepperoni, chilli, tuna, you named it they had it. They even had dessert pizzas with melted chocolate and smarties which was a delight. My personal favourite was the cheese and bacon one. All suitably stuffed we made our way back to the Lemon Spirit Hostel where we just chilled out and chatted.
The next day we woke up and the Beach Backpacker hostel continued to disappoint me, this time with a very very poor breakfast selection. The internet, TV and phones were also down, and Captain Disney was still being his annoying self. The internet being down was a bit of a problem as we were going to arrange with Tom going to the Copacabana beach where we would hopefully get to see the England squad and my hero Gary Neville. We hoped on the metro and made our way to the Copacabana beach and found out the England squad were actually staying at the Royal Tulip in Sao Conrado, a thirty minute bus ride away. We decided while we were I Copacabana we might as well see some stuff so after a trip to Bob's Burgers we tried to visit the Copacabana Fort, unfortunately this was closed on Mondays so we decided to head up to Sao Conrado. Thirty minutes later and we were there. The hotel the England team were staying in wasn't as impressive or as grand as I thought it would be. And maybe the biggest shock to me was the heavy military presence outside guarding the hotel. When we got there nothing much was happening so we decided to head to the beach where we had a dip in Sao Conrado's rough waters and caught some rays. On our way back to the hotel we bumped into an English journalist working for a German TV company. He informed us that we had missed the England team arriving back from training and asked if I wanted to do an interview. I obliged and made my on screen camera debut in a nerve wracking affair. My performance can be seen on this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8BaTZut_Fo After this we had a stroll around the hotel and we noticed a group of Brazilian kids, wanting to see what was happening we joined them and realised they we were watching the England team grab some lunch, we saw the likes of Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill, Glen Johnson, Luke Shaw and the manager Roy Hodgson. It was interesting seeing, I saw why Frank Lampard got his nickname Fat Frank as he was at the buffet table a good few times. It also semt weird, like we were at a zoo in a way. I didn't feel entirely comfortable with it. We then got talking to a young Brazilian kid, massive Everton fan and were there to see Ross Barkley. He was there the day before and got selfie's with the likes of Chris Smalling, Henederson and Danny Welbeck. He also had his photo took with Roy Hodgson and said he was a very nice gentleman and most impressively to me he met Gary Neville and had his photo and autograph. This got me excited at the prospect to meet my scouse hating idol. We stuck around for a few more hours, had a beer chilled on the beach and monitored the situation at the hotel, unfortunately for us I never got to meet anyone as nobody was out, so we decided to head back to our hostel. After some two minute noodles we headed to the Lemon Spirit Hostel to meet Tom, Jack and Chris for drinks. Our destination that night was a bar called Emporioum in Ipanema. It was a decent bar playing some decent Indie music. The only problem was that it was full of men, transvestites and prostitutes. It was still a decent night though and Earl and I ended up making the usual drunken stumble home back to our ridiculous s*** hostel, which was only going to get worse.
The next morning we needed to check out. We had a night bus that night so we could be in Sao Paulo for the world cup opener. Our idea was to leave our bags at the hostel while we saw the sights and pick them up just before we went to get the bus, something we did everywhere with no problem everywhere else. Beach Backpackers had other ideas though. If you left the bags after 4pm they wanted to charge an extra night. I know ridiculous right. We couldn't exactly go and see the big Jesus with all our bags. Luckily we messaged Tom and he asked at his hostel and they were more than willing to let us keep our bags there free of charge.
Unfortunately the weather in Rio had taken a turn for the worse. The clouds were low and thick which meant going to see Big Jesus was useless as we wouldn't see past our own hand. We also canned our idea to go and see a local favela - A Brazilian slum, maybe best represented form the film City of God. There were a few 'safe' ones to visit though and we thought it would be interesting to see. Unfortunately fatigue took over and I decided to nap on Lemon Spirit's bean bags instead whilst Earl read Marching Powder. It didn't matter we would be missing a few sights though as we would be back in Rio in the near future. A few hours later and we were greeted with another old friend. Rory who was travelling with Tom in Vietnam had also made the journey across the waters for the world cup, it also helped that his missus was Brazilian. That afternoon saw us all catch up over several beers before we had to sprint off for our night bus. We would see them again though as they would be making the trip to Sao Paulo a few days later.
So until next time stay safe and take care