20th Feb 2012.
We will get to Sugar Loaf mountain....promise. However today was a necessary evil. On Wednesday we are leaving Rio to take the bus to Ouro Preto.We did try to book this on line but the Brazil bus web site is only in Portugese and will only accept payment with a Brazilian bank credit card. So we had to go to the bus station to buy the tickets. As it's carnival time we figured we should do it a couple of days in advance......oh how right we were !!
First decision, how to get to the bus station.Bus you might think. Not so. Buses can be dangerous places. Most tourist robberies happen on the local buses. We spoke to the hotel concierge who said either take our car service at a fixed price or a yellow cab on a meter. Now we knew that the hotel car would be a bit over priced but as we didn't know how far it was or the traffic conditions we opted for it. Good choice. Traffic was light until we hit the accident. Now I'm sure a cabbie would have happily sat in the tail back with the meter clicking but not our fixed price driver. Time is money. He's off to get round the problem. Ok some of the roads he took I'm glad we didn't breakdown but we got there . Along the way we saw where a lot of the main carnival floats park up. Close up they are very elaborate.
We got out of the car and went into the bus terminal. Not at all like a UK bus terminal. Much more like an airport terminal. Apparently they spent $10 million dollars recently updating it. All I can say is chaos must be very expensive in Brazil !!!
We walked along the rows of different company travel desks looking for one with an Ouro Preto sign. Most had no queues and staff were sat looking bored. Then we spotted one with an Ouro Preto sign.
It had at least 4 queues with dozens of people in each and two burly security guards with night sticks in front of the staff. We joined a queue and watched. Clearly something wasn't right. Lots of Latin arm waving and shouting. The security guards looking menacing and the desk staff shouting at the customers. Jill said it looked like the port when everyone was evacuating Tripoli.
We queued for an hour and eventually got to the front of the line. 2 tickets to Ouro Preto for Wednesday Jill said in her finest Portugese. ' No internet' was the brusk reply. 'Come back in an hour' Ah now I understand the arm waving!!
Off we went to kill an hour. We went to the coffee bar but they didn't serve tea. We went to the tea bar but they didn't serve coffee. Agghhhhhh . In the end we sat with a tea and a coffee and waited.
After an hour we went back to the desk. Big queues still but it seemed the internet was working again. Anyway we got back to the front of the queue only to be told there are no day buses so we had to book an overnight trip. At least we had our tickets out of Dodge...sorry Rio.
We took a yellow taxi back to the hotel (half the price) and set about finding a beer as a reward mmmmmm.
This evening we went to Ipanema beach to watch the sunset......yeah right. Another bloco i.e. 10,000 people in one place....agghhhhh again !!!! Back on the metro to Centro and out for a bite followed by a glass of red on the roof terrace. Lovely end to a bizarre day. They say you need a Zen mentality to survive. Me and Zen have never really got on !!!
More updates from Ouro Preto if we ever get there.