Sunday 7th Sept: Back in Rio and onto Ilha Grande.
After another looong bus journey (6 hours from Lencois to Salvador, a 7 hr wait at the station then 27 hrs to Rio which all seemed to go surprisingly quickly as i was sleeping or busy writing my blog), we arrived back in Rio about 6pm on Sunday... with very fat swelled feet and ankles from the journey (photos to follow, haha!). We only stopped off back in Rio to break the journey up down to Ilha Grande. We decided to stay in a different hostel this time called Che Lagarte for a couple of nights. It wasn´t as good as the last hostel we stayed at in Rio (rubbish breakfast & minging shower - yuk!) but had a good location and nice people.
Monday 8th Sept: rain, rain and more rain.
Monday it rained, rained and rained so the planned day at the beach was a no go and we had a (wet!) walk around town and got a cheap manicure and pedicure (6 quid!) - very embarrassingly having to get my dirty trekked toes out!
Tuesday 9th Sept: off to Ilha Grande.
Tuesday morning we packed to leave for Ilha Grande, the transfer was supposed to arrive at 10am but typically on Brazilian time arrived gone 11am. With four others from our hostel, and stopping at other hostels on route, we headed for the port to get the ferry to Ilha Grande. Our friendly driver, let us plug an ipod in and Ellie was happily DJ for the journey and in no time we´d arrived at Angra dos Reis for the 3.30pm ferry.
The ferry took about an hour and dropped us off right outside the hostel. We were staying at another Che Lagarte hostel, but this was much newer and cleaner than the one in Rio - and in a wicked location overlooking the beach.
Ilha Grande (Big Island!) is really beautiful as it´s almost all tropical beach and Atlantic rainforest which hasn't been destroyed as it has in most other parts of Brazil (only 7% now remains). There are no bars or cash machines, but lots of restaurants, hostel, pousadas and little shops and tour operators along the ferry port. The island was also home to some of the most dangerous criminals in Brazil until the prison was closed in 1994.
There are two joint hostels, Che Lagarte and Aquario, next to each other on the beachfront which is where most travellers seem to stay. The night we arrived there was a bbq at Aquario next door, so loads of us went there and met up with 3 really fun girls we´d met on the transfer across. We had a great night - the bbq was packed, then a disco kicked off about 10pm (slightly dated music tho - maybe Now 11?!) and we all got considerably drunk off probably the strongest capirinhas I had tasted so far in Brazil served by a ripped bar man we aptly called Vin Diesel (not as good looking tho), ha!
Wednesday 10th Sept: one of Brazil´s most beautiful beaches.
After the bbq, Ellie was feeling particularly fragile so we decided to go on a boat trip to one of Ilha Grande's 102 beaches called Praia Lopez Mendes (this image is a photograph of it!). It´s very secluded with the finest white sand I´ve seen which is clear to see why it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. So we spent the day chilling on the beach and caught the ferry back about 3.30pm when it became quite overcast and colder. In the evening, the Brazil and Bolivia football match was on at our hostel, but still recovering from the capirinhas from the night before we were in bed by 11pm.
Thursday 11th Sept: trekking again!
Thursday we decided to go to Dois Reis, apparently one of the hardest treks on the island which is a 16km trek to a beach and the site of the Colonia Penal Candido Mendes, Ilha Grande´s last functioning prison, which was imploded by the state government in 1994.
After breakfast, we set off with our rucksacks and water and decided to take a ´short cut´recommended to us by a guide on the port. However, after walking up a hill, down then up again in a big circle we finally found the´short cut´ when some local workmen pointed us in the right direction. The shortcut was a steep climb (almost vertical at some points!), so I powered up there as Ellie told me she expected to find me doing press-ups when she reached the top, ha! We then came onto the main path of the trek and headed for the beach and prison. On route, nature called so as there was not a soul about, I thought it would be fine to stop at the side of the path. Then literally out of nowhere appeared a 4x4 with a group of guys in, which we found particularly amusing as there is supposed to be no vehicles allowed on the island, haha!
It took a couple of hours to get to the prison, which was really interesting to look around as you are free to walk around inside what is left of the prison - the page 3 pin ups were even still on the walls of the cells! We then headed to the beach which was practically empty, and chilled there for a bit as it was a really sunny day.
On route back, we took a different ´short cut´ which was another steep climb, but this time through rainforest where there was loads of Bamboo growing which was really beautiful to see. To round the day off nicely, we went to a fish restaurant on the beachfront which had been recommended in the Lonely Planet. We had the most delicious fish I have ever tasted! It was the catch of the day and must have been a bloody large fish as the fillet was massive and served for two - delicious!! We met up with lots of people back at the hostel and I was back on the capirinhas. After a few drinks and much to the entertainment of the girls, I thought the tips bell being rung was a last orders bell! So every time I heard it ring, I jumped up and bought another capirinha from the bar. The bell rung a second time, so i shouted "last orders guys, get your drinks in", by this time the girls had realised in my drunken state that I thought the tips bell the bar man rung every time he got a tip was a last orders bell. The bell then rung a third time and I still didn´t realised and off I went to get yet another capirinha, while the girls were giggling away at my drunken antics. A must have then carried myself off to bed as by the time Ellie came to bed, I´d literally passed out fully clothed, half hanging off my top bunk, haha!
Friday 12th September: another ´fragile´boat trip!
The next morning, it was my turn to be feeling fragile so we decided to do another boat trip this time to the blue lagoon. We bought our ticket and in typical kate fearnley style AND with a hangover, I was running late for the ferry and as we got to the port it was literally just pulling away. I thought it was a blessing in disguise, but a guide on the port called the boat back and the ferry reversed! and we (embarassingly!) clambered across another boat to get to it.
Despite the nauseous hangover, it was worth the effort as the blue lagoon was stunning - but I couldn´t bring myself to get in the water so watched from the side of the boat soaking up the rays. We then stopped at a little white church and then went for lunch and on a traveller´s budget, I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu - beans and rice (a dish served EVERYWHERE in Brazil). That night we packed to leave and caught the 9.30am ferry Friday morning back to the mainland, heading further south of Brazil to Paraty.