At the Copa....Copacabana!!!

Trip Start Dec 11, 2010
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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Friday, March 11, 2011

When my baby, when my baby smiles at me I go to Rio de Janeiro!!

We arrived into Rio about 8pm and headed to our hostel. During carnivale hostels can be $100usd per night for a dorm bed with a minimum 6 night stay...yuk! This set up was the main reason we decided to miss the 5 day carnivale block and arrive after for the champions parade the following weekend! We still had to pay $30usd per night per person for a 12 bed dorm room which was the size of a shoebox with 4 x 3 bunk high beds and soo smelly and hot! And then we saw the bathroom...you literally shower above the toilet - it was disgusting. Water goes everywhere...including into the bin where people throw their toilet paper! Gross! Anyway...once we accepted our accommodation for the next 3 nights we headed down to the bar and had a few drinks with some of the other guests. We attempted to head out but the entry fee was too expensive and the line was too long so we headed back to bed.
Next morning we decided to get up and go for a run along Copacabana beach! It was beautiful but so hot and humid! We were dripping within minutes! That could also be because we haven't run in over two months...it was very interesting to see the Brazilian beach fashions..all shapes and sizes wearing barely any material to constitute bathers!
In the afternoon we headed across town to visit Jesus (aka Christ the Redeemer). There was a massive line to buy tickets but we eventually got one...for a train departure 1.5hrs later..As the train was climbing the mountain we were entertained by an awesome samba group...and through the jungle got glimpses of the surrounding city.
We made it to the top and to quote Phin "Jesus revealed himself slowly through the mist the other day, I felt the need to by his side, he slowly appeared (only 10m infront of me) as though to whisper in my ear: Phineas my child, you should have woken up earlier you lazy tourist, the weather is crap, whoops ... times up ciao!" hahaha
We were dissapointed we could not see the city of Rio at all. We were literally in the clouds!
We eventually headed back down the mountain and back to the hostel.
Dinner was a felafal pitta and my new obsession...frozen yoghurt with fresh fruit. Soo good!
We were planning on having a few drinks then an early night but the bar girl, Carol, a local, convinced us to join her, a friend and Dan and English guy at a street party in Lapa! So at 12.30am we left the hostel en route to a real Rio party! It was awesome! Not many tourists but thousands of Brazilians filling the plaza and the surrounding streets! Vendors sold snacks and alcohol..$2.50 for beer and vodka mixes and samba groups were scattered around surrounded by people dancing the night away to the music!! It was so much fun and really good to actually be there with locals!! We headed home about 4am after an awesome night out!
Next morning we tried to get going early so that we didnt have the same "fog" issue we had the day before with Jesus! So about 10am we left the hostel to catch the cable car to the top of Pao de Acucar (sugar loaf). We were relieves to get to the top and whilst there was some scattered clouds...we had panoramic views over Rio! 20minutes later the clouds were considerably thicker and we would only get 10-15seconds of a view of the city when there was a sudden break in the clouds! We were very glad we had got moving early otherwise we wouldn't have seen much at all!
In the afternoon we headed down to Ipanema beach and after a stroll along the sand, enjoyed some sashimi and sushi at an awesome Japanese restaurant!
Back to the hostel to get sorted before heading to the Sambadrome for the Carnivale champions parade!! We went via Lapa as we wanted to see the Lapa steps and the aqueduct. The lapa steps are amazing. It is an outside staircase of about 250 steps that's tiled mosaic with handpainted tiles and other tiles from all over the world. Really cool! We then jumped in a taxi to the Sambadrome. After a quick bite to eat we hurried in to get some good seats. It was raining when we arrived but stopped after 10minutes - thankfully! And then it began...WOW!!
The parade began at 9pm with the top 6 coming down the runway in reverse order...each taking 1.5hours! Each group had a theme to their parade and each consisted of choreographed dance groups, simple samba dance groups (tourists could participate in this), individual samba dancers and then the most phenomenal floats I have ever seen!
By 1.30am we were only halfway and starting to struggle a little bit but we tried to keep dancing on the spot and being excited!!!
But we were saved at 3am by the group that came 2nd...but should have won. They were out of this world!!!!
Their theme was "fear" and they depicted it through movie characters..
They had floats of transformers...that literally transformed, zombies who were actual people with their heads falling off, ghosts, king kong float with swinging gorillas, Indiana jones float with a guy dodging a gigantic ball, a 4 dimensional harry potter hogwarts rotating table, and my favourite the jaws float with a guy swimming in an actual pool being taken by a shark! Hilarious! Plus all these floats are surrounded by thousands of samba dancers!! It was phenomenal!
The final group was good but not as good as the previous group - apparently it was a bit rigged and appealed to the judges more because it was more traditional. Anyway it was an absolutely amazing experience and am so glad we went!!! As we wandered out I found some costuming on the side of the road so now have blue sequin shoulder pads with music note material surrounding! Wohoo! At 6am we crashed into our uncomfortable hot bunks - hoping to sleep for 4 hours before checkout...
Unfortunately due to some inconsiderate roomies we were awake 2.5hrs later and attempted to sleep for a little longer...not that successful!

In the afternoon we had to catch a bus, a ferry and another bus to do the Architecture thing and visit Oscar Niemeyers art museum!
The ferry ride was highly entertaining!! It was overflowing with hundreds of teenagers coming back from a street party! They set up a dance floor in the middle of the ferry all singing and dancing to patriotic brazilian songs. Very fun...and slightly concerning when they started using the fire extinguishers!!! In aus you would be arrested for that behaviour but the security just took them off them and let them keep dancing!
We made it to Niteroi island and headed to the museum. Really amazing building - great lines and shape. Haha very architectural of me!
We were lucky there was a photo exhibition of Oscar Niemeyers works on display so we checked that out then headed back.
Before we jumped on an overnight bus to Sao Paulo we headed to a restaurant that was a weigh your plate place - really good meat and salad bar! Good because it's a buffet but you only get what you need because the more you eat the more you pay!

With our bellies full it was off to the bus station!!

Mar 11 Update
Lisa: "Craziest hostelworld hostel review that I have ever read..."don't stay here...the Israeli's steal your food...just like they stole the Palestinians land"!!!! Who writes that?!?! Some people are very strange!"

Mar 12 Update
Lisa: "Can't believe it's been 3 months since we left home! I guess time really does fly! In Rio! Copacabana!!! Off to street party tonight then carnivale parade tomorrow!!!"
Phin: "Literally Showering on top of a communal toilet – practical??? Sitting on a puddled wet toilet whilst your fresh clothes absorb the dirty water off the floor - Priceless!
Think I need a bigger budget on my MasterCard!"

Mar 13 Update
Lisa: "Wow!!! What an amazing night!!! Carnivale at the Sambadrome in Rio!! Phenomenal!!! Out of this world!! Watched the sunrise as we made our way home this morning....if only we had time to sleep..."
Phin: “Very tired since samba-drome champions carnival (Awesome) finished at 6am this morning and checkout was at 11am...Rio - Makes me feel really Ugly! These people need to be quarantined!
They are also all very good at pulling an angry expression!"
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