Rio (7 nights) - Flew to Rio and met up with the GAP group at their hotel. Slight issue at the airport when there was no sign with my name on for my free transfer. After hearing all the stories of Rio I was slightly dubious when a guy asked me my name and said "ah Gareth, called his friend and said I should go with him". After checking with the hostel it turns out he was kosher tho so call me racist.
Went to a Vasco vs Botofogo game at the Olympic stadium that night (the Maracanaclosed 2 weeks ago for 3 years for the world cup-gutted!). Slightly disappointing to be honest. Atmosphere wasn't a patch on the Boca game, the ground was only a third full and the standard was terrible and as a result the fans were more abusive thansupportive! Stopped off at a bar in Copacabana on the way back where we went upstairs to accidently crash a gay guys birthday party. Obviously we were treated to a drag queen and two male sailor strippers. Shelley and Charlotte loved it, me and Alan not so much!!!
Handgliding over Rio. No practice. Just "run…run faster..run faster!"Very pricey (welcome to Brazil) but worth the 104 quid. Great views and adrenalin rush when you hit the sea air and it get bumpy and then when you spiral into land on the beach. Spiral was so fast you were sure you were going to crash!
That night Marcelo, the GAP tour leadercooked us all a meal at his flat and thenwe went out to what can only be described as a prostitute bar when I was physically assaulted by one of them. Me and Lisawere innocently debating whether one of them was fit or not, which obviously requiresme to look at her. She raced over saying " you have girl..why you look at me?" and then proceeding to grab mypenis. Fair play to her..her Englishis better than my Portuguese!lol
The next morning was the last sunny day we got in Rio L. After that It was cloudy in the day and rained at night! Went to Copacabana beach, sunbathed and watched some of the Homeless World Cup tournament which is held in Rio this year. In the afternoon we got a taxi to Sugar loaf and paid the 15 quid to cable car it up. Ouch considering we couldn't see past our hands on the 2nd mountain and later found out we could have walked up to the first one for free! To be fair the view were decent from the first and we got to see them in daylight and after sunset but…15 quid!!
Lapa!! After a BBQ at Che la Garto we taxied it to Lapa. It was raining so us lot and a couple of guys from Sao Paulo we had just met paid to get into a Samba bar with live result. Right result as the 2 guys spent the night giving us all free samba lessons!! Apparently I´m a natural and would be an expert in a yearbut I think he just fancied me lol
It stopped raining so we explored the streets which are filled with food and drink stalls, people pushing speakers and people dancing. Good fun but don´t take photos with your Iphone or the locals will have it away!
Favela tour - mint tour!!Started by jumping on the back of a motorbike to literally race to the top of the favelas dodging through gaps and overtaking each other. Greatfun! I would have been happy if that was all we got!! We then entered the favela and were given a tour back to the bottom, various view points and explanations. 300,000 people in this favela.4m of Rios 12m population live in favelas. This one was ran by a 22 year old drug leader for the last 3 years but was probably beginning to watch his back. Police leave the favelas alone on the whole cos the favelas are mazes and they would probably be massacred if they raided them. Lookouts at the bottom who set off fireworks when they see someone they don't know. The streets were filthy with rubbish, running water/sewage but the houses were really clean and they all had TVs and there was even a Playstation café. Everyone was friendly as most of our tour money goes back into community projects to look after the kids whilst the parents are at work. Govn schemeto rehouse families in proper houses if they lose favela due to mudslide. Kids get free bus to school if they are wearing uniform. Companies have to pay for workers´ transport to work so favelas closer to Rio have an advantage. Great tour and saw a few dodgy looking guys and a guard post but no gun L so only 9/10.
Lapa night 2 -Me and Shelley randomly shared a taxi to Lapa with Josh and Tanaya, an Ozzy and Kiwi couple who we just me in the TV room which has turned into a long and fruitful relationship!lol Wasn't raining so we just stayed in the street all night. At one pointme and Josh disappeared to get some drinks to find the girls being chatted up by some Brazilian guys when we got back. The lads looked gutted lol but to their credit they hung around with us all night and took us to party in the back alleys where the proper locals were. They did make sure they got a picture of just them and the girls to show their mates when they got back though!
Chilled out the next day and explored Ipanema. Chicken and chips in a local café/stand then Favela funk party! Best night in Rio! 10pm -4am dancing/bump and grinding to funkwith the locals in a favela ran by ex bent cops. VIP area for Gringos upstairs if you wanted but we just stayed downstairs all night. Mint!! Locals were all friendly, didn't feel threatened at all and some of the girls ´dancing´ was out of this world. The only bad thing was that you were never ever going to take your top off in there cos all the local lads were ripped to hell!! Show on stage at the end which was basically show the Gringos how they do it and thenlaughat our attempts. Hilarious bit when local ripped black guy who obviously had small mans syndrome proceeded to smash girls all over the place on stage, much to the girls dismay!!Chicken skewers outside topped off a perfect night!
Chilled out the next day and then treated ourselves to an all you can eat Brasilain Rotissery meatplace. Food was lush! Wine was not!!!
Attempted to see Christ the next day. Climbed to the entrance bit to be told visibility was zeroso didn't bother. Oh well.Ill see it when I come back in 2014 for the World Cup J. Finished off the last night in Riowith a few Capriniasin the bar.
Isla Grande ( 3 nights)
After saying goodbye for the last and final time I headed to Isla Grandewith Josh and Tanaya in search of some sun…to no avail! Cloudy and rainy for 3 days. Trekked 8km through the forest to the LopezMendez national park beach which would be paradise if the sun was out. Long unspoilt white beach with palm trees and no boats. Unfortunately its not quite the same when thunder and lightning hits 30 minutes after you get there. Plussomebloody Ozzy guys persuaded us the night before that it was better to walk barefoot - revenge will be sweet if I se them again! The rest of our time was spentsocializing, enjoying a cool reggae party, drinking home made Caprinias and chilling out. Beats work even if the weather is the same!
Party ( 2night)
Again a beach resort which isn't quite the same when the weather is terrible! But this one has ahidden gem - Rocksliding championship!We trekked 8k see the local waterfalls and find this place where you could apparently slide down the rocks into the pool below. After finding it and sliding down a few times (20 seconds was the record) on our bums which was great fun we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves at how brave we were. Until that is Jackson this 22 year old local lad who had been doing it since he was in nappies turned up and proceeded to make us feel very very inferior indeed!He started off with just a simple sliding down on his feetwith a few turns thrown in and bombing into the pool at the bottom (6 seconds) (bear in mind we could barely walk across the top without slipping). Next trick - he nonchanantly walks back up the slippy rocks as if they weren't there. Followed by skipping with a bamboorope on the way down, followed by going down next to with a bamboo leaf covering his eyes followed by his best one yet. He got one of the Ozzy girls to sit on the rock half way down and jump over his head on his way down. Possibly the most impressive individual bits of skills I have ever seen!Apparently he was training for the finals of the local rock sliding championship the following Sunday which I was tempted to stay an extra 5 days to see!Managing to hitch hike back totown before the rain started marginally improved our battered self esteems!!
Bussed it to Sau Paulo and then straight to Foz as everyone I meet says SP isn't up to much. Met up withmates from work back home(Hutch, Jonny, Riggers, Sowers andthe rest of their party (Heather, Mary, Claire and Chris) at the hostel and enjoyed some well deserved sunshine around the pool. Happy hour on Caprinias went as expectedwith some sore heads in the morning and some tales to tell. Me and this other English lads were amongst the only 4 standing at which point the barman Diego and his mate suggested they take us to a club. After a 20 minutecar ride (so we cant come back) we arrive at the what we later we find out he calls the Church as its where you go to get blessed all night. Turns out its 70% brothel, 20% strip club, 10% club. Obviously I didn't get involved in the 70% and didn't enjoy a single minute of the 20% part but it's a lesson well learnt. Never believe a guy called Diego when hesays he´ll take you to a club.
To be continued .......