We arrived back in Rio around 2ish on the Sunday it seemd to take forever and we were the last stop. We got dropped at our hostel in Ipanema, it was called Rio Hostel and they couldn't find our booking and it took forever to sort out as they had no internet. We should of taken this as a warning sign...We set off to visit the Christ Redeemer which is on the Corcovado mountain (its about 2,000ft+ high) and it was a beautiful day. It was completed in 1931 after 5 years of building it and taking it piece by piece up the mountain. We got a bus and were greeted by lots of men selling the bus option as we got off. You can visit the Christ Redeemer by tram or catch a bus. The bus stops at an extra spot so we opted to do this. We met a girl who joined us for the trip. They stopped at the first stop and it was beautiful and blue skies. We spent 10 minutes here and then were taken to the next spot where we had to get in a different mini bus to take us to the top. By the time we got to the top it had changed and it was getting dark and very cloudy. It was absolutely rammed and it was hard to get any pictures without there being loads of people in it. There was also a mass taking place which was really nice to witness. There were lots of little shops to buy different religious pieces and just the normal food places. We spent some time taking pictures and it was quite nice as the sun was setting and the city was starting to light up. We then left as the rain was starting and it was getting much colder (especially when you are wearing shorts and a top) We had to wait a little while for the bus and then when we got to the bottom we caught the bus back to the hostel. We had a small dinner and by then we were starving as we had not eaten since breakfast at 8am. When we got to the hostel I had a chat with Tracey, Shelly and their friends and then got ready to head out.
We were going to a Favela party. A Favela is a shanty town and there are up to a 1,000 in Rio. We went to the Sao Carlos Favela. It was an organised tour with all the other hostels. We were picked up about 10.30pm and headed to collect others. They made a stop at a petrol station to wait for the other buses and there were about 7 in the end so it was a massive group of people. We got to the Favela and it was girls first. When we got in the guys started getting closer to all the 'Gringo' girls. Gringo is a term for foreigner in SA. We were then led to the VIP section. On the way a guy took a fancy to me and starting kissing my shoulder.. honestly these guys aren't shy. I managed to get away from him and get to the section with all the other backpackers.. We stayed there for a while and had a drink watching all the routines going on downstairs. They were great dancers and we loved it. It really was like something out of save the last dance film so we were not disappointed at all. After a while we felt brave and wanted in on the action downstairs so we headed down to dance with the locals. We were there for ages and somehow seemed to blend in as no one really bothered us. But there was a young looking guy who kept coming over to me and saying 'I love you' lol!! So sweet but then kept trying to kiss my cheek. Bit of an invasion of the personal space, haha. We danced down there for ages and it was a mix of baile funk and other random Brazilian music but all very good. They also did some tunes we would recognise.. like YMCA (believe it or not) and James Brown and other tunes so we had a good dance to that. There were some pretty scantily clad women, men you would of loved it. We spotted one who practically had her boobs out with hot pants and heels and looked really hot but later we realised she was really a he.. WOW is all I can say!! We danced the whole night and then left at 4 for our transfer home. It was a great night and we both really loved it. Man I wish I could dance as good as that.
The next day I woke around 10ish and went to get some breakfast. Unfortunately when Ellen woke up she realised she had been attacked by bed bugs.. she went and told reception who then accused her of bringing them into the hostel and we explained that was not the case. The women was a fiery one and said she had dealt with them in another hostel and they were a nightmare and hard to get rid of and apparently Brazil does not have the medicine for them.. (it all makes sense) I still have some scars from the bout I suffered a few weeks ago :( Anyway we stripped the beds and set off to get Ellens clothes cleaned. Always good fun on your trip. Our Favela tour was in the Rochina Faverla which is run by the ADA. We got a mini bus to the bottom of the place and then we swapped to get on motorbikes up to the top. Let me tell you it was pretty hairy and we almost hit a bus which came around one of the corners.. I was even thinking F*** what am I doing? I like the use of my limbs!! haha. He was telling the locals 'Gringo' and I was like yes I am!! LOL. We basically started in street one. They then go up as you walk down. We were not allowed to take any pictures for ages as there were drug lords driving about so that was the only restriction we had. Our guide Marcus pointed out one of them who was driving on an unlicensed bike. We then walked through the streets and started to walk our way down the Favela. We made a stop at a lookout to take some pictures and it overlooked the Favela and you can see the mountain and sea in the distance. We then went to the Art shop and there were some amazing paintings. Our next stop was the little crafts stand where I bought a new bracelet. After this we popped to a bakery where I stuffed myself silly :) Then we went to a nusery which was so cute and there were kids of all ages.. There were some little kids playing football which was lovely, they really love it everywhere.. there were dogs and chickens roaming all around the Favela and as you can imagine where was a lot of litter. We then went up to a lookout which showed how far we had walked and it was a great distance :) He showed us the street 4 which is a road with coloured houses and is a new scheme the government have introduced to try and make the Faverla look nicer especially for the World Cup. They also had to knock down the houses on street 4 to make way for a road for ambulances etc to get up there.. they then rebuilt them but gave the people papers so they owned them offically. There are about 80,000 people living there. There can be riots when the police try to come down and interfere. On the way back down we passed a very unconsious looking man on the floor. Me and Rebecca were convinced he was actually dead as his face looked to be in an abnormal position but the others thought he was passed out.. who knows really. We then crossed a bridge which was designed by a 100year old famous Brazilian designer. He is still going strong :) Later on we headed back to get ready for a night out. However when we got back our hostel manager told us we had to leave basically as they thought we had brought in the bedbugs. It all got pretty heated to be honest. She was so damn rude and making out she was doing us a favour and she pointed out that I had been bitten so I could have brought them in, bloody cheek..as we pointed out they incubate for 7 days so it was clearly someone else. I had no new bites so it couldn't be me and also Ellen had not been bitten before. She was a rude b**** anyway.
We moved onto the Beach hostel which was much nicer and we had a rush to get ready for Traceys birthday night out. Oh yes did I mention it was my friends 30th birthday as well so that was equally annoying. We went out for some Japanese at a restaurant down the road from the hostel. The food was not great but we had a cocktail and enjoyed the evening. Sanjeev joined us later on and he was with Meera and James from the bus ride to Florianopolis so it was brilliant we got to see them again :) After dinner we then went to the Emporio which was pretty busy and a good laugh. They played a mix of music and some tunes we would all know so we had a dance there. It was another great night in Rio.
The next day it was a grim day so we went to Santa Teresa to have a look around. We got the bus to Lapa and then caught a tram up. The tram took about 15 minutes and there were people hanging on to it. It was a rickety old tram and I seriously wondered whether we would make it up the hill. It went over the Lapa Arches which is a important part of Rio. We then jumped off near the art shops and restaurants. On the way down we walked down the Lapa steps which are mosaic and very pretty.I've never seen anything like it. We then caught a bus back to Ipanema. A few of us popped out to have a wander about and to head to the supermarket. Later on we were all in bed early.. the previous 2 nights of partying was catching up with me :)
On the Wednesday the weather was rubbish again so we said our goodbyes to the girls who were going to Ilha Grande and headed to Rio Sol to go shopping and get the last of the presents. We soon headed for the Haviana shop and it was massive and packed with all colours and styles. We took some times and chose the pairs and then went off for some lunch! It was a nice and stylish Mall and we had a look around but it was out of our price range. We headed back and later on we went to Carretao. This is an all you can eat restaurant, a Churrascaria and the food ranges from seafood to meat, pittas, sushi, salads.. dips.. honestly it was an absolute feast. You get a round card which is red on one side and green on the other. You turn it to green which means you want more meat. There are several men walking around with different meats, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, ribs.. my favourite was a bife (steak) with garlic on it. They also leave a bowl of chips, rice, fried bananas,, bread and olives on the table. We took some pictures with the men and they were good fun!! Then the dessert tray came about and this looked amazing but there was no way we could fit anymore food in our stomachs :) It was one of the best meals I ate in South America and it was a great way to celebrate Ellens last night.
The next day we went to change some Havianas which was a bit of a nightmare. The shop in Ipanema was much smaller and they would not give me full price back for a pair I had bought the day before (as they sold them cheaper at their store) and they also would not even give the difference back. I felt a bit robbed as I couldn't get the same pair so had picked a cheaper pair. Anyway shopping in foreign countries, fun and games. After some shopping we headed to the beach. It was quite nice and we were offered massages, juices, food, clothes.. everything really. The weather though was not to last and we soon got cold and headed off for a wander.. not sure what is up with this Rio weather but it was rather annoying!! I was so pale and after 9 months traveling this seems wrong..Ellen was heading off later that night so we chilled out and then I walked her to the bus stop. It was going to be weird being on my own but I felt it was quite poignant. I guess it gave me time to reflect on the trip and I definitely felt like I was on the wind down. I was hoping the weather would improve as well so I could sit on the beach for my last 2 days...Ellen got into a white minivan and we were a little worried whether it was legit. I did freak out as I did not hear from her for 3 hours and started to think the worse..she did eventually text me and I was so paranoid it was not her but I did not hear from her until she landed the next day. I even didn't go out that night I was so worried but I guess it was in vain. That day it was a really nice day so I went to the beach and chilled out and managed to catch a few rays for a few hours. It then turned rubbish in the afternoon. I went for a wander around the town. Later that night I had some BBQ at the hostel with my Aussie mates and at first there was very little meat but then it started coming thick and fast so we all enjoyed meat and garlic bread (I was missing the salad though) Later on I headed to Lapa for a street party of Samba which was really good fun. We were with 2 Brazilian girls, 2 English girls and a couple Teresa and Taylor. One of the Brazilian girls took me right into the middle of the dancing and got a guy to show me some moves. I was so embarrassed but it was great fun :) Its a very fast moving dance so it would take lots more practice. We saw some of the bars but we did not go in. We quite enjoyed the vibe on the street and meeting some locals. I also got to see Sanj who was wasted but it was great to see him. I eventually left at 4.30 with Taylor and Teresa. I got back to my room and there was a girl being sick out the window.. oh the fun of sharing rooms with 8 others.. This was something I would not miss. Paul McCartney was playing in Rio so all the hostels were packed and overpriced for that weekend.
The next day I headed for a last day on the beach. Sadly the weather was not great so after a while I headed for some lunch and a last fruit shake (banana, mango and pineapple) it was lush!! I then went to the hostel and hung around there with a few people. Later on Teresa and Taylor headed back and we went to the beach for a few hours to chill out. It was really nice and we laughed about the thongs and speedos. Yes I took a few pictures of people in both these outfits, well I wanted you all to experience it as well :) Later on Tracey, Shelly and the girls spotted me on the beach so we had a chat before I then headed off to get ready for my bus. We headed for some frozen yoghurt where I had m&m's, nuts and strawberries on it. I paid like £8 but it was delicious for a last treat :) I then got ready at the hostel, said my goodbyes and then left about half 6ish to catch my bus to the airport. I had to wait for about 25 minutes for the bus by the beach. It was still quite busy but I did not fancy hanging around for too long on my own with all my stuff. I then got the Real bus and met Ed who I chatted to for a few hours until we got our flight. No one knew I was coming home a day early (haha) I thought I would surprise my family. I got on the BA flight and we had dinner and I watched a rom com called 'No Strings Attached' with the tasty Ashton Kutcher. I then ended up falling asleep for a few hours and waking up with only an hour and a bit to go and we had breakfast. After getting off the plane I took a picture of the BA plane and went to take a picture of the UK boarder sign but I got told off and was told to delete it.. tut tut on my behalf but I found it funny. I then took the underground to West Harrow and wandered to my door and knocked.. the look on my parents faces was funny.. they had no idea..They also surprised me with my room freshly decorated, new fittings and a new bed which was lush!! It was gorgeous and a lovely surprise to come home too. After showering and sorting some stuff out I went and surprised Rob and Martina and the families.. it was really great to see them all. Later on me, dad, mum and Rob headed for a curry. I really have missed them :) It feels quite weird to be home I don't think it has sunk in yet but give it time (especially when I go back to work) I loved traveling but it does feel good to be home.. for now anyway.. :)