I'm more than a little bit behind on this blog do forgive me that these next few posts will come in fairly quick succession!
After iguassu falls we had a thirty hour journey of two buses, a metro and lots of walking to get to Paraty, our next beachy Brazilian destination. We spent two full days there and predictably by this point weren't ready to leave. Highlights: The hostel's breakfast bar being on the beach, life out here is really tough... The people: we met Elisa and Clara, two German girls who we met again in Rio for a bit and who enjoyed refreshing my German, although not with the vocabulary usually found in a school text book... The swedish boys staged a surprise return at our hostel one morning, and we met Aaron and Felicity, an English couple who we spent most of our time with there. It was nice to chat to someone else with absolutely no interest in football for a change! MTV rocking up on the beach to film the music video of one of Brazil's biggest celebrities 'Jorge'. The celebrities were so old they had to sit down for a break from dancing during each song, but hopefully Gareth and I will be making our debut on brazilian tv any day now... The boat trip! The most amazing day on about sailing around the small islands in paraty jumping into the bluest waters ever at any given opportunity to cool off was made by the live musicians interesting adaptations of American music and the fact that our group made up most of the boat! The Swedish boys spent the day doing jaws impressions and jumping off the boat in ever more painful ways much to our amusement. The food! Though we say so ourselves, Felicity and I made some spectacular suppers in the evenings, whilst the boys played football on the beach...
So with all gender stereotypes safely in tact we move on to the inevitable awkward moments: Bed bugs! We were asked to move room on our last night in the hostel and I was horribly bitten by bed bugs that night.
This was also the first time we encountered triple bunks on the trip, with nothing to stop you rolling out of bed, a terrifying prospect but one which we both survived, although not everyone is so lucky... more on this later! These were though the only downside to an amazing stay at 'misty chill' hostel, where the staff were brilliant.
Paraty flooded... We never got to the bottom of quite what had happened but after our boat trip we returned to the not quite so dry land of Paraty. The streets in the old town had all flooded over leaving cars in the street full of water, no one seemed as shocked as we were to discover this though and no explanation given!
We sadly left everyone on the beach and took the comparatively short bus to Rio! No one could ever describe this city as uneventful and our five days here definitely reflected that! It's definitely somewhere I want to go back to and with a little bit more Portuguese under my belt would want to live.
Highlights: For gareth the top highlight must have come on our first day. The 'stam' girls (beach volleyball team) were training on copacabana beach in the evening and he marvelled at their various talents, one of which I'm sure was their ability to play volleyball. The Brazilian men play a type of volleyball where they aren't allowed to use their hands, much more interesting in my opinion and we spent some time watching them too! With or without the volleyball players though both copacabana and ipanema beaches are incredible, always full of people doing a huge number of things and sellers selling literally anything you could ever want, they are incredible to have right in the middle of a city.
Lapa street parties: on a Friday night the streets around the lapa arches are filled with thousands of people enjoying caiprinhas, music and lots of samba. We met loads of other travellers there and had an incredible night/morning.
Carnival! We made the decision to leave Rio just before carnival started due to the extortionate prices and our much smaller budget. However, we went to the final dress rehearsal in the sambadromo a week before and it was phenomenal. The stands were packed full as we saw two samba schools parade through in minimal clothing (as is the Brazilian way), with the crowd singing along to their songs.
The favela tour. Despite advice to the contrary, we went on a tour of an organised favela, the biggest in brazil according to our guide. Getting motorbike taxis from the bottom to the very top of the favela at the beginning was terrifying but an awesome experience.
Finally we got to see a football match too! Fluminese v Vasco da Gama was made all the more exciting by gunfire before the game (fans from the same team against each other was a surprise even to us English 'hooligans'), and a clearly biased referee to make sure everyone was good and angry just before the end... In conclusion, I still prefer rugby.
Christ redeemer, by day and up close incredible, and once lit up at night it literally appears to be hanging in the sky over the city, has to be seen to be properly appreciated. Photos just don't do it justice, we tried though believe me.
Sugar loaf, we stayed for sunset with two Aussie guys who had a camera which way outclassed anything we had. Looking out over Rio for a few hours with a drink like that is pretty hard to beat anywhere.
The awkward moments: When trying to cook our own food at the hostel on our first night there we swiftly made an enemy of the hostel chef by trying to cook in a gas oven without lighting the gas , and then being unaware that our gas hob had blown out. "Are you trying to burn the whole hostel down?" from his point of view was a fair question.
Instead of buses which are more expensive and less frequent in Rio we were advised to get the little minivans which hurtled up an down the beaches shouting destinations out of open doors. All good and well until our van driver got into a fight with another driver on the way to Lapa, they started chasing each other over central reservations and trying to get out to fight each other. Our feable calls for the "polizia" went unanswered and greatly amused the locals.
The pickpockets in lapa street parties were genuine magicians. Unfortunately Gareth's camera was taken whilst we were there and it was in a mildly impressed and bemused state that we head to the tourist police the next day. The anger set in some time after!
The dangers of three story bunks were highlighted to us in our hostel as one of the welsh boys that we met tell out and landed on his head. He was lucky to only break his nose and jaw, and the whole event made for a night of no sleep and alot of fear from those sleeping on top bunks.
Bad tour guide Martin! For our big city tour doing all the big sites we were unfortunately lumbered with Martin. At our first stop (Christ redeemer) he got angry with those people who were not at our meeting place one minute after they were supposed to be, "no respect for time", and spent the rest of the day sulking and not telling us abything about the other sites!
Against all odds it seems we left Rio relatively unscathed and headed for our plane to Patagonia. We were gutted to leave the hot beaches, but felt we had done Rio justice!