Sam again, checking in for blog duties again as Donna is busy giving a makeup masterclass!
Yesterday (Thursday) was our last in Rio as we travelled through the afternoon back to São Paulo over two short flights. Before we left, we mooched along Copacabana beach one last time, stopping off for a snack notable for two things. Firsts, my first experience of acai- a taste like nothing I can describe but a nice one! Secondly, the bizarre situation of a boy approaching us, asking a question in Portuguese, and on my reply of "nao, obrigado" (standard response to the regular hawkers and sellers along the beach), seeing him take my milkshake and finish off the last dribble before walking off. All rather random and quite sad in a way to see someone so desperate.
This didn't sour our experience of Rio at all though. A quite breathtaking city, a glorious patchwork of physical beauty and human endeavour which make it a geographer's paradise! Very good for visitors too with efficient and affordable transport and plenty to do. It seems like the city is bubbling up nicely ready for the eyes of the world to be on it during its Olympic Summer in 2016.
We are back in São Paulo for the last five days, balancing the time between unwinding from our adventures and fitting in as many extra experiences as we can. This morning (Friday) was a particular highlight for me, as we took the short (18km is short now we are used to Brazilian life!) journey to the suburb of Interlagos, to visit the Formula 1 circuit there. Once I discovered that we were staying on the same side of the city as the circuit, I decreed that we would find time to visit.
Interlagos is a good old-fashioned circuit, having held races from way back in the 1970s and then hosting the Brazilian Grand Prix every year since 1990 in its present configuration. There have been some classic moments in F1 history there, including Lewis Hamilton winning the championship at the very last turn in 2008, the crazy race of 2003 where everyone spun out and the wrong driver won, and from a Brazilian point of view the iconic 1991 race, where São Paulo's favourite son Ayrton Senna finally won his home race even though his car was stuck in sixth gear. Even twenty-one years after his death, Senna's legend lives on around São Paulo although I must say I'm surprised at how few F1 references I see around us (eg in adverts, shops, even graffiti art), for a country so into its motor racing.
The track itself and paddock are inaccessible as there are lots of building works going on to develop the pit complex before the 2015 race in November. However the circuit has a perimeter walkway, about 4km long, which we did a lap of. Part of this was a little hairy, walking along a concrete-lined passage past pesky youths with sticks and spray cans- although I must say this is the first time all trip where I have felt slightly intimidated by anyone, and by being brave and walking by like normal it all turned out to be fine. Further along, the concrete gave way to wire fences and spectator seating blocks, giving great views of the track. The circuit is in a natural bowl, so from the highest point you can see lots of sections of track at one time. In the cloudless sunshine, the track looked brilliant.
The afternoon saw a trip to find one of the São Paulo Sephora branches mentioned by Donna yesterday. She stocked up on more bits and pieces she can't find in the UK, and by the happy chatter from the room next door it seems that her practice session with Camila is going well!