13 March 2009
Ahhh…this is the life! It doesn't get much better than this…
Tim and I are resting after a delicious lunch of gnocchi (with a four-cheese sauce - not as good as Da Bruno's, but bloody good!) and 5 hours at Ipanema Beach sunbaking, swimming and reading.
Ipanema is so gorgeous and its just around the corner from our hostel (it takes us 3 minutes to walk there!). Im sure you have heard of Ipanema, but if not, you've probably heard of Copacabana?? Ipanema is the beach next to Copacabana and the new 'place to be seen' in Rio. Its exactly like what you'd imagine a Brazilian beach to be - soft sand, clear water, umbrellas everywhere and locals selling everything from icecream to jewellery to beer to cheese on a stick (nb: this is actually amazing and can only be found on the beaches of Rio - I cant remember the name of it, but will try and find out. They cook it for you on a little grill right on the beach and then sprinkle it with oregano...mmmm).
We are both feeling rather refreshed and 'normal' today… I think I am finally over my jetlag!
We got into Rio yesterday afternoon, after a flight from Santiago which stopped over in Sao Paulo. It was a really good flight and surprisingly, Lan Chile was great! Even their headsets are a bit more spiffy than the stock-standard Qantas ones!
Anyway, I was, once again, a little overwhelmed landing in Rio as we had both heard of how it can be quite dangerous. Plus, we were entering a Portuguese-speaking nation, so most of the Spanish we had learnt became obsolete as soon as we got off the plane!! (We do have a phrasebook however, and that is helping us a lot!)
For anyone who has our travel itinerary, you will see we were meant to be staying out in Santa Teresa…according to our guidebook, Ipanema was only meant to be a couple of miles away… NUP! When we collected our bags, we were lucky enough to run into an English-speaking porter who quickly told us that Santa Teresa was about 12km from Ipanema and so, travel to and from would be costly. DAMN!
He ended up driving us out to Ipanema to a small complex which houses many hostels and we soon found a room at the Girl From Ipanema Hostel - more costly than we would have liked, but in truth, we are a stone's throw away from the beach!!! YEEOOWWW!
BUT - the room we were first placed in was absolutely awful! It was essentially an old bathroom which had been converted to a bedroom, toilet and shower (so you can imagine the amount of space available!) and so, there was NO ventilation. NONE! Just a stuffy little room which stunk like mould…really gross. Plus, we didn't realise at the time, but the communal bathroom's window was directly opposite our room and (wait for this) after I had a shower, I got out and saw two little eyes peeking out at me from the window!!! EEK!!! Some dirty b***** was perving on me from the window! It made me feel sick L
After this, Tim demanded we be able to change rooms as the 'private' room we paid for was no so private!! Thankfully, this was no issue and we were moved to another room which is double the size but does not have a bathroom (but the communal bathroom is nicer anyways!).
Last night was probably the best experience Ive had so far (and Im sure Tim will agree) - we went to a soccer game at the Macarana stadium!!! AND it was a derby, Botafogo vs. Vasco, so it seemed every person in Rio was at the game! It was absolutely unreal. Ive never heard anything like the chanting and singing and screaming I heard at the game. Not once, did the supporters stop singing!! We got into it, even if we didn't understand what they were singing - I had all the actions down to a T! haha
During this game, I saw the Brazilian passion for 'futbol' that you always hear about. Fans were punching the ground in disgust at missed opportunities or hugging each other when a goal was made…and it wasn't even the proper season yet!! We were so happy to be amongst the fans… During the game I had a moment where I thought to myself, "I can't believe I am in Brazil watching a soccer game!". I thought of dad at this point because I knew how much he would have loved this!!! Dad - it was THE BEST!!!
Its so crazy - supporters are 'separated' in so far as they have different entries into (and out) of the stadium and sit on opposite sides of the stadium. With this much passion, I can see why! There'd be brawls left, right and centre otherwise! There were about 30 cops outside once we left, though…
The heat in Rio is intense. It got up to 36 degrees yesterday and it is humid as hell (another good reason for a day at the beach!) so you can only imagine how hot it really feels.
SO - first experience in Rio has been a great one so far. Its nice to get away from the big cities and breathe some normal air for a change! And I will note, just for the hell of it, that:
1. we need 4 different keys to get into our room - it's a nightmare - and the locks are a b**** to open (but we feel very secure because of this)!
2. drivers here are mad - they have no concept of lanes, indicators or speed limits and I actually had to close my eyes when we were in the taxi;
3. it's not as cheap as we thought it would be, but it is Ipanema!
4. the people are super, super, super friendly (much friendlier than Argentinians!);
5. we are craving fruit and vegetables (haha);
6. they have pigeons at the beach instead of seagulls;
7. women wear teeny-weeney bikinis (tangas?) and all the men wear budgie- smuggler shorts! The whole concept of "bathers, bathers, bathers...undies!" is not really understood here, so most of the time, the men seem to be walking around in their undies LOL
Well, best be off! We are meeting a German couple for some dinner and drinks soon, so I might get a little snooze in beforehand. It's a hard life for some…
To Bec - we are thinking of you all the time and wishing you a speedy recovery XXXXXXXXX