Her name is Rio ...

Trip Start Jun 29, 2010
Trip End Apr 07, 2012

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Friday, January 21, 2011

We woke up and packed up all our things to catch our early breakfast prior to catching the bus to Rio. This in itself was lucky.  Chris has always had a paranoia that we will not be up on time or that we will miss a flight or bus and so seems to always wake up before we need to travel.  The night before he had set the alarm and gone to bed as usual.  What he had failed to do was change the time – as we were now 3 hours ahead of the set Panamanian time.  Luckily he loves getting up early so we were fine – if it had been left to Annabelle and the alarm clock we would have woken up at midday!   

Our first task was that we then had to grapple with the half mile uphill walk to the tube station with our massive bags, this had us both tired out and sweating before we even got there.  We consoled ourselves by discussing that we now have all we need for Argentina and also some of the other South American countries whose higher land mean cooler climates.  

We bought our tickets and jumped on for the 10 or so stops to the Tiete bus station.  The journey was easy and after much bumbling about with Portuguese in the station we found the Viacao 1001 office to collect our tickets, all in all we were around 10 minutes early for our bus. 

When it arrived we were very impressed, the seats were great and had ample leg room, they took our bags for us and offered us a box of snacks, in the shape of a bus and a drink for the journey, so much better than a chicken bus!

We left on time and headed off on the 6 hour journey for Rio.  Annabelle put her head down and only woke up 30 minutes before we arrived in Rio, she even slept through the food stop, so unusual the lucky thing.  Chris slept some and watched Spooks on his I-pod.  The journey though Brazilian countryside was a very beautiful one and in no time at all we arrived in Rio, both trying to spot the legendary landmarks as we arrived.

When we arrived at the Rodioviaria Novo Rio where the heat was amazing, we have not encountered dense heat like this since the Desert in America and both started sweating as soon as we got off the bus.   Chris then started chatting with an American guy who had also been on our bus.  This American though, was slightly different, he spoke Portuguese!  A lucky find! 

He helped us to find the onward bus and jumped on with us as he was also heading to Copacabana.  It turned out that he was an international tax consultant, who, in his spare time, works for a friends company  training people on the use of its software in Portuguese. 

He was a great addition to our travelling troupe as we had some fresh meat to chat to and he even helped us find the right bus stop to get off at, it is so nice when you meet someone like that.

We jumped off the bus and after a little negotiating the streets found the hostel.  We both immediately had our reservations as the counter staff seemed less than enthusiastic. 

We had initially booked into the Mellow Yellow Chill hostel and received an e-mail the day before our booking to say they had moved us to the Party hostel.  When we  were taken up the stairs we realised this was not going to be good. 

The hostel was probably the greatest thing to travellers about 20 years ago, now - not so good!  We had to drag our bags up 4 flights of stairs and struggled to find our room though the dingy corridors, some of which did not have lights down them – kind of like a prison.  Eventually we found our room named "Futbol".  It was like a sauna and smelled like a toilet, had lockers with no doors  and the mattresses and pillows were covered in the type of plastic covers that only drunk or incontinent people have on their beds.   All in all not great first impressions, but we were to be stuck here for a few days so we had to get on with it.

When we arrived in the room we were greeted by Barbara, a German traveller from Cologne.  She was travelling for 15 months only on the South American continent and had only recently started travelling.  She admitted to us that this was her first hostel and we politely told her that as she had started at the bottom, things would only get better for her! 

She seemed genuinely nice so this was a relief at least.  We spent some time chatting with her and gaining an understanding of the area.  She then joined us in the bar upstairs for a drink.  It seemed that the hostel give out caipirinhas between 5 and 8pm every night.  This was probably the only redeeming feature of a truly awful place.  They obviously think that if they get everyone drunk, they will ignore the awful surroundings...

After a drink and a chat with Barbara we headed back to the room wondering what time the air conditioning would be turned on.  When we arrived there we bumped into Charles and his wife Thien-An, they were from France but have been living in London for the past few years.  They also seemed nice and were the closest couple to us that we have found, almost a carbon copy. 

Mostly in the sense that they started travelling in North America and had similar plans to us (apart from the fact that we travelled in Central America) they even had the same camera as us!  The thing that had us hysterically laughing was the fact they lived in Dalston.  After Chris's ’24 hours from Dalston’ moment the other day – we thought our Dalston days were over.  Twice in a week ... maybe this is an omen and we should add it on at the end of the trip!  Bellethorpe’s final destination ... Dalston!  

We initially wanted to eat in the bar but decided against this after seeing the state of the place.  Eventually we found a buffet restaurant and had an all you can eat buffet to try and cheer ourselves up!  We had also heard about a street party that takes place in Lapa, a district of Rio on a Friday night and wanted to go and check it out. 

Luckily Charles and Thien-An also wanted to take a look so we had a couple of free cocktails and shared a cab with them.  Whilst we were in the bar we were talking about our previous jobs ... Thien-An suddenly remarked that Annabelle looked familiar – turns out that she’s a midwife at the Royal Free and Whittington Hospitals ... both old haunts of Annabelle’s engineering days!  We’ve probably passed each other in the halls ... Spooky!

The party went on until 9am and even though we arrived at around 12.30pm we felt as though this was too early as everyone was just standing around chatting – kind of like a platform when a train has been cancelled.  There was no music and the atmosphere was not great, added to this we had already eaten which offended Annabelle as we were not able to try all the various local foods. 

After around an hour of pottering around the street party we all decided that it would be a good few hours before anything really started happening, so we cut our losses and headed back to the hostel.  On our way to the taxi queue we did stop and watch 4 gay guys sambering for their life ... they were incredible – who knew people could move their bodies so quickly!  Amazing. 

When we got back to the hostel  and luckily the air con had kicked in to cool the room – so the offensive smell was reduced slightly - hopefully we would sleep well...
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