Every street is a party, every corner a toilet!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
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Trip End Dec 13, 2013


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Where I stayed
Cafofo Hostel, Botafogo

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ola,

This is my first ever blog post so please bare with me, Garry is better with words than I am in English and now Portuguese ;-) and I tend to ramble - sorry.

Thursday 7th - We had a beach day on Ipanema even though the sun was not shining. It was an overcast day but still in the 30's. We set up camp and started people watching - my new favorite past time, there is so much randomness here. I think Garry was a little disappointed with the lack of Brazilian beach babes which had been promised to him on many a Rio postcard. I however was very pleased; all the guys are stacked and take good care of themselves. It not hard out here really as there are free outdoor gyms everywhere you look. Anyway I digress; we stayed on the beach a couple of hours before I could feel my feet actually burning as I had forgotten to put any lotion on them. From this day we learnt that the sun in South America is very strong and have since sought shade wherever we go!

Friday 8th - We got up early to try and beat the crowds at Cristo Redentor (The massive concrete Jesus). We got the train up to the top of Corcovado, which was very steep in places and felt like the start of a rollercoaster. At the top the views over Rio were incredible and it wasn't even the clearest of days. Cristo himself was huge! We had seen him all over Rio but were underwhelmed with his size but up close and personal he was massive. I think it is a really nice thing to have overlooking a city like Rio. Tonight was our first night out of the hostel and we went to a local Bloco, which is an organised street party. We went with a guy who works in the hostel who used to live in the area so was our local (but American) guide. When we got there the party was dying so we decided to check out the beach and see all the night lights. On the way we stumbled across about 120 drummers practicing in a park it was fantastic. The sound and atmosphere it created really was something else and it homed into me that we were actually in Rio!



Saturday 9th - Today we headed on foot to Lapa. We went to see Catedral de Sao Sebastiao which from the outside looked ugly - simply a concrete cone coming out of the ground. We were pleasantly surprised when we went inside and were greeted with four 60m high stained glass windows. You really can't judge a book by its cover. We then went and found Escadaria Selaron, which are a set of 210 steps with surrounding walls which a Chilean artist decided to cover in tiles sent from all over the world. Sounds daft but was really cool. Unfortunately he was found dead on the steps last year from a suspected accidental overdose, but then they do say an artist's work is appreciated more after they die. In the evening we went to another bloco called Banda da Ipanema which is a traditional bloco where 80,000 people were expected. We got off the bus into a crowd of hot, sweaty, drunken youths. They seemed to be moving in a general direction down the strip so we got into the crowd. I felt like a cow in the middle of herded cattle. I didn’t like it one bit and really didn’t get the appeal or understand what was going on, but I seemed to be the only one as everyone around me seemed to be having lots of fun. We forced our way out and got on to the beach. We walked in the direction of the crowds until we had overtaken them and then rejoined the road where the procession soon passed us. Now I understood. The procession consisted of a couple of small floats with an old man on waving at the crowds followed by a small orchestra and samba drummers, which sure didn’t sound small, hard to explain but it was a good feeling.

Sunday 10th - Today we went to Parque Lage which was a free park near to the lake. It was really cool and had random features like an aquarium with piranhas in and weird caves with massive stalagmites. Then we stumbled across a turret and small ponds which were supposed to be fed by waterfalls. A nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We got back to the hostel early so decided to get a bottle of vodka and get into the party atmosphere as there was a bloco just around the corner later that day. Turns out a bottle of vodka shared two ways in the middle of the day before dinner is not such a wise idea. We got to the bloco and spoke to a couple of Brazilian guys and I blagged myself a free trilby hat, which Garry has now seemed to claim. After that I remember nothing but Garry had brought his phone so we tried to remember by looking through the photos - Hangover movie moment!

Monday 11th - CARNAVAL DAY! - Since we knew it was going to be a long day we decided to sleep in as long as possible and to sleep off the hangover. We then went and had our first 'eat per kilo’ lunch. It’s a buffet style restaurant where you help yourself to whatever you want and then they weigh it at the end and you per kilo. A good idea I think and it was very tasty. We then walked up to Flamengo beach and through the ocean lined park back to the hostel. Our hostel had given us a carnaval goodie bag which consisted of fancy dress items, confetti and a plastic hat, so we dressed appropriately and headed to the sambadrome - the massive arena where the carnaval parade takes place. Each samba school has 120 mins to parade down the sambadrome to effectively show off their samba, costumes and floats. It really was amazing; the atmosphere was just out of this world. It left me really excited about their opening ceremony for the Olympics because they sure can put on a show. We stayed to watch 4 of the 6 schools before we got too tired to see anymore - it was gone 3am at this point. Back in the metro station on the way back we randomly bumped into the lovely Jason Hansen and his friend Mike. We knew he was at carnaval and in our section but presumed we had missed him but it was lovely getting the metro back with him and seeing someone from back home.

Tuesday 12th - Today we went and met Jason on Ipanema beach to have a chilled out beach day. We had two umbrellas today so no bad burning incidents. Garry and Jason played in the sea for a bit and Garry attracted a lot of attention and was being called gringo (foreigner) by the locals. We then went and checked out Jason’s apartment in Leblon before heading back to Ipanema for another Banda da Ipanema. Since I knew what to expect this time I enjoyed it for what it was. Today there were a lot of people in drag and there was some crazy stuff to see!

Chao for now amigos.

K x x x
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