Dun dun dun have reached the last blog!!
Rio has been amazing! From start to finish. Yeah we might not have had the weather we were hoping for but the Cidade Maravilhosa has not disappointed in the slightest if anything it has exceeded all expectations from the atmosphere to the scenery and all bits in-between!
Wednesday morning we said goodbye to our friends Rob and Dave who were eventually getting that flight to Oz! Then me and Carmel headed off Havianna shopping! Limited myself to just 3 pairs but oh that was a struggle the choice was just massive!! As the weather was still miserable spent the rest of the day trying to decide what to do with our time! Then there was a cloud break and we made the most of it by wandering along Ipanema beach to the viewpoint checking out the surfers and fitness freaks running and exercising in the beachside gyms! Tuesday night we did eventually decide to stop treating ourselves and cook!! The usual pasta and veg haha and made it a relatively early night!
Thursday it was still much of the same weather wise so we decided to do a favela tour to Rochina! A favela a for those who don't know is Brazilian Portuguese for slum and is the generally used term for a shanty town in Brazil. Although this doesn't quiet cover all of what a favela is it gives a basic idea. Rochina is the largest favela in Latin America and is home to about 300,000 people! This one is still run by drug lords and this was obvious by the local guards who carried guns evidently on display and are apparently equipped in similar ways to troops in Iraq. It was huge and spread all over the hills with amazing views over Rio city itself! We wandered around with Colin our guide as we passed through the maze of streets and alleyways before eventually getting on the back of motorbikes for a race through the streets! That was amazing! The thought was terrifying but actually being on the back of the bike racing through the streets was really exciting! That night we went down into Copacabana (yes the song will now be stuck in your head!) and wandered the street market there!
Friday was suppose to be sunny, but as had been our general luck weather wise in Rio it was still a bit grey and nowhere near sunbathing weather! So we wandered around Ipanema some more and then headed into the central district of Rio. Oh my god it was hectic especially compared to our relaxed and chilled out Ipanema so after spending not that long there we decided to jump on the Metro again and head back to what we knew! Friday night we had been told by almost everyone that we had to go to Lapa where all locals hang out in a huge street party with samba music blaring from the clubs and bars as well as drink stalls selling some of the best caparhinas to be had anywhere. So we didn't hesitate in heading there and oh my god it did not disappoint in the slightest! We spent the night drinking caparhinas and learning to samba with some locals as well as listening to a live band under the `Arches`. Was such an amazing night all the next day (through severe hangovers) we were still getting excited about it as we were soaking up the sun on Ipanema beach.
Saturday afternoon we went to see one of the local football teams, Botafogo play. The atmosphere was amazing! Botafogo won 3-0 as well just to make it even better! After a quick change it was time to head again to a favela for a Carnaval samba party! It wasn´t what we were expecting as it was in what resembled a huge social club but when the drums and samba kicked in we def knew we were in Rio! The night was their rehearsal for Carnaval where they picked the music that there float would be sambaing to at Carnaval 2011.
Sunday was the best beach day! So after lazing on the beach turning a little bit pink it was time to head back for some dinner and then to Favela Funk! Basically everyone from the hostel headed in a mini van to the favela and bumped and grinded most of the night away with each other and some locals! Again had so much fun!
Monday never got up to that much, did head for the beach but as ws a bit windy decided against that and made our way to McDonald´s for lunch. Tom arrived on Monday too so was great catching up with him again after Buenos Aires. Monday night we headed to Copacabana for the night market again and to pick up the last few souvenirs and have some dinner in an all you can eat buffet! Yum yum!! Monday night for a change was a quiet one spent just relaxing and watching a movie in preparation for our last night out in Rio the next night! Next day was spent lazing around again and heading for lunch and some acai this time with peanuts was delicious although not sure as good as granola! haha. Cooked our last meal of trip and as tradition it had to be spag bol! haha then it was off out to Melt. Not the greatest club in Rio and full of gringos but we were all there so still had fun!
Tuesday it was time to return to Carretao! Possibly the best restaurant in the world! Its an all you can eat steak and sushi buffet, where they bring chunks of the nicest meat ever to your table as often as you want on a constant rotation! It was delicious! Although I prob did eat the equivalent of a small cow! haha.
We definitely finished the trip in the best possible way by going on a tour of the city of Rio which took in the San Corando beach, the rainforest, Santa Theresa, the Lapa Steps and the iconic Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountains! So after spending the day visiting these various places and as the sunset over Rio from Sugar Loaf it was time to then have our last ca and make our way to the airport in preparation for our 11 hour flight back to the UK!
Its hard to believe a year ago to the day I was sitting in the hectic streets of Bangkok probably resembling a little bit of a lost puppy! What a year it has been and what a difference a year makes as I am now on the opposite side of the world soaking up the sun in Rio!! Yes it didn't all go smoothly or to plan but that just made the journey all the more exciting and special. The places I have seen will stay with me a lifetime, some I can safely say I wont ever be back to but others I know I most definitely will and the list of them is long enough to keep me busy for a looooong time! But more importantly the people I have meet along the way have been even more special that the places I have visited, so lets hope we have many more adventures together!