Saturday 16th August: FIRST DAY OF WORLD TRAVELS!
After a 14.5 hour flight from London, we finally arrived at Brazil's most magical big city Rio de Janeiro! Practically slept through the entire flight (thanks to ear plugs and eye mask), apart from waking to eat and entertain ourselves by putting travel pillows on our heads (photo to follow!). We arrived at the hostel early Saturday morning, which was in an excellent location in Rio, close to the beach, with its own bar and small pool and we met a load of great people there (apart from a 50ish year old German woman from Brazil who was staying in our dorm waiting for her apartment to finish. She woke us every night practically coughing her lungs up - enough to put anyone off smoking - paraded around in her manky brown knickers and even emerged stalk b*llock naked from the bathroom one night - eugh!!). Its winter at the moment in Brazil, but apparently its warm for their winters as its typically been 26-29 degrees most days; Rio has been the perfect start to my world travels!
Sunday 17th August: dont lose your ticket!
We went down to the lake with some girls from the hostel for a bike ride. You could easily think you were in LA! There are loads of fitness fanatics jogging with their mega toned bodies and tans. There are beautiful people all around Rio, even the dogs have bows in their hair, wear outfits and SHOES! I tried a drink you find everywhere you look in Brazil - coco water from green coconuts (not the manky coconut milk you get in brown coconuts) as its supposed to really rehydrate you (probably coz its water?!) and costs less than a pound.
In the afternoon, we went to a local football match at the Rio stadium where the 2014 World Cup Final will be held. Apparently, the two passions of Brazil are music and football and that definitely seemed true, as they chanted, beat drums and sang through the entire game. We got pointed at lots as the cariocas (term for people from Rio) found it very amusing to have gringos (term for foreigners) at their local football match! The local team, Fluminesse, beat Atletico 1-0, but the highlight of the game for me was the hot Brazilian policeman (who disappointingly only frisked the men on the way in) and the guy who kept waving his 'hot doggies' at us, haha! In fact, I was lucky to even see the football, as I lost my ticket on the way in and our guide (who looked like Mr T) yelled at me to go find it; I couldn't so he reluctantly gave me another. Note to self: do NOT lose your ticket, especially when you've paid £20 or it!!After the football match, a group of us went to 'Casa Rosa' which was a pink house that used to be a brothel which is where all the locals go on a Sunday night to samba and listen to live music. The bar was excellent and served the best (and strongest!) mojitos and I tried my best to learn to samba with the locals. A small fat dude tried to head rape me insisting that i kissed him. Another told me I spoke like I had a potato in my mouth and another carioca said I looked like a spice girl, the one married to Beckham?!?!?!... Other than that the people were really friendly and we had a really brill night.
Monday 18th August: buttocks, buttocks, and even more perky buttocks!
We headed to the beach (with nothing other than my beach towel , suncream and a couple of pound as theft is apparently really bad on the beaches) to chill and people watch. The men exhibit their perfected perked buttocks in the smallest trunks and the woman wear tiny thong bikinis - no inhibitions whatsoever. The men even strut around the shops in their speedos!... other than the crime rate, I soon fell in love with everything about Rio.
In the afternoon, Ellie was feeling very adventurous and wanted to go paragliding. Rio is one of the best places to do it because of the spectacular scenery, however, attaching yourself to a metal frame and running of the edge of a cliff (and paying about £100 for the pleasure) didn't really appeal to me, so I watched and took photographs from the beach. At night we rounded a group of people up at the hostel and hit the party town of Lapa.
Tuesday 19th August: we went to see the huge knob!
We went on the 'Top Tour' which visited the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio, sugarloaf mountain (which is a mountain which looks like a huge**** and was initially called 'the peak of temptation', haha!) and the famous steps of Lapa, where Snoop Dog and U2 have each filmed a music video. There was a bbq at the hostel at night, consisting of steak, steak... and more steak. To economise we decided to make our own mojitos.. in a large pan with a ladle. Not quite the same as the ones we'd had at Casa Rosa, more like soggy mint leaves and missing the two key ingredients; sugar and ice, but we still got very hammered on a couple of quid so a good night all in all.
Wednesday 20th August: Copa, Copacabanna!!!
We had a walk to see Copacabana, as in the famous Sinatra sound. It has a reputation as being quite seedy a night, but the beach was nice and decided to walk back after a near-death bus ride on the way there, mmwah?!
At night we rounded a group of people up at the hostel and hit the party town of Lapa.We got the bus to Lapa (another near death experience - note to self: avoid buses in Rio!). I thought the driver was jumping red lights - he was, but that's because you don't stop at red lights after 11pm in Rio because of hi-jacking. The bars were rammed like a weekend, most charging around £8 to get in, so on a tight travellers budget we decided to have our own street party in the front of an open bar with live music, drinking cheap and delicious capirinha cocktails from a street vendor. There were about 20 of us from the hostel and we met a wicked couple from Brighton, the guy Rowan was probably one of the funniest people I have met, and hopefully we're gonna meet up with them in Sydney for new year's eve. As well as a guy from Melbourne who had just trekked 8,000 km in a week across South America on a motorbike on his own with nothing more than a map - impressive!
One of the girls got talking to a 'secret undercover agent', a tall Brazilian man who told us he worked for as a secret agent and showed us his identity card - which looked like something a child had made from a cornflake box, mmwah!? The secret agent took us to a hip hip club in backstreet Lapa which was full of cariocas grinding to hip hop. We were the only gringos in there, but we seemed welcome (thank god!) and a Brazilian guy told me I was like sunshine while he danced in front of me rubbing his nipple - I didn't know where to look?! We headed back to the hostel about 6am and I was still up at noon, so had an afternoon nap and went out for a lovely meal on thurs night (had the yummiest tuna steak!)
Friday 22nd August - Lapa Street Party!!
We went to the beach again and went to the Lapa street party at night. Every Friday the streets of Lapa are rammed with people, live bands and street vendors selling everything from street meat, to cocktails and popcorn.So we partied on the streets, listening to the live bands and drinking capirinhas until about 6am.. i think?! We were supposed to leave Rio on Saturday to head north, but decided to stay another night so we could go watch a rehearsal for the Rio carnival on Sat night which takes place in the farvela. Farvela is the name for the slums in Brazil, which most people go on a tour to see but I didn't as didn't think it was right to do.
Saturday 23rd August: inside the slums of Rio & Farvela Fried Chicken.
A guide took us on a minibus into the farvela at night, it was a bit intimidating at first, but apparently they let people come to the rehearsal every Saturday and it's really interesting to see how the people in the farvela have created their own community. There are shops and bars, and the electricity pylons are overhanging with illegal 'hook ups' so they can get a free electricity supply. The carnival rehearsal takes place in a huge open air building, where drums bang and people parade with flags and dance; the Rio de Janeiro carnival originates from the farvelas! After a number of DELICIOUS caprioska cocktails (a fruit of your choice blended with vodka and ice) we got the drunken munchies and went to buy some food. The only thing we could translate off the menu was 'frango' - chicken, and were served chicken 'bits' of all shapes and sizes which had been deep fat fried- RANK!!! Buying food off a stall in the farvelas was not a good idea; we aptly named it FFC - Farvela Fried Chicken, yuk!!
Sunday 24th August: Left the magical city of Rio .We got back to the hostel about 4.30am, having to set our alarms for 7.30am for our epic 26 hour overnight bus journey heading north to Salvador; the greatest Afro-Brazilian city, where the music never stops.