Brasil 5 Ecuador 0

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Nov 13, 2007

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday 14th October - Monday 22nd October

(Finally managed to get dodgy memory card burned to cd, and so you can now see the missing pictures on the previous few blogs!)

Arrived to a very hot and sunny Rio de Janeiro after our final overnight bus from Bonito, 30 hours in total (and our longest yet!), via Campo Grande and a scary looking Sao Paulo.  Very happy to get off the bus!

We took a taxi to our hostal in the Ipanema district of the city which just a 2 minute walk to the beach and a 10 minute walk from the famous Copacabana beach.  The hostal was great (the Mango Tree), more like a guest house, and organised trips around the city to see the sights safely. They also showed the rugby world cup games so we managed to watch england get hammered in the final.  Breakfast was the best bit for Claire as she saw her first marmite since June!

We spent a few days on the beach and around the local area before heading out on a few tours.  Beaches are great for people watching, and seeing all the bizarre things you can buy from your deckchair, including nuts, roasted cheese, very small bikinis etc etc.  However, we unfortunately do not have many pics as it is not safe to take anything to the beach with you!
01 Copacabana beach security....
On our first tour we visited a national park situated on a mountain overlooking the city .  Here we walked a trail which headed steeply up to a look out point where there was a great view over parts of the city, towards Sugar Loaf mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeeemer. We then headed to the pretty San Teresa district; where an old tram links the cobbled streets.  This area was formerly a rich neighbour hood but now most of the people  have moved out and huge houses are left standing empty.  Our guide explained that this was because in recent years more favelas have appeared next to Santa Terasa and it is no longer safe here if you have lots of money and valubles. We stopped in a local restauraunt here and had a typical brazilian meal, a type of stew served with beans and rice.  We also visited the statue of Christ the Redeemer from which breathtaking views of Rio can be seen.
02 View from national park...04 On the way up to the top....05 View from statue towards sugar loaf....07 The big dude....
We managed to get tickets to watch Brasil vs Ecuador (World Cup qualifiers) at the Maracana stadium, one of the biggest stadiums in the world, on Wednesday night and we couldnt wait. We headed to the stadium with our tour group and took our seats behind the goal.  The atmosphere was great and the crowd very lively.   It was a great game with Brasil winning 5.0, and it was exciting to watch Brasilīs greatest play.  The experience as a whole was very different to the Boca Juniors game in Argentina which had definitely been a bit rougher around the edges!
08 Maracana stadium....09 The match....
We also went on a favela tour to Rocinha, Rios biggest favela, with a very knowlegable guide who told us the important rules to follow (set by the drug lords who rule the favelas) e.g. all mini bus windows must open when entering, no shooting photos in certain directions, donīt mention certain words even in english etc.... it was a good experience and we walked through certain areas where visitors are welcome. The atmosphere was calm and although it didnīt seem too scary, it was so much different to the other districts of Rio.  It also brought back memories of Peru and Bolivia.  The roads were busy, and the favelas mainly consisted of hundreds of alleyways linking the houses and busineses - none of the roads and streets have names as they have been built over the years without authority.  Our guide told us the police came in to Rochina in August this year looking for a known criminal and they brought 800 police men. We next visited a smaller safer favella where we visited the school which is helped by money from our tour, and we walked the tiny passage ways around the town.
10 Rochina favela11 Favela school playground...12 Vila Canoas favela
On Saturday night we went with a few people we met at the hostal to a samba school carnival rehearsal held in a huge warehouse in one of the larger favelas. On the turn styles as we entered we noticed the īno guns allowed signī.  Inside, the "band" must have been 50 people all with drums making an incredible rhythm.  It was a great night out with a very friendly atmosphere where the locals tried to teach us samba steps!  A few to many capirhinas later we found the bus back to the hostal at 4am.
13 Samba school rehersal...14 Trying to samba with a capirinha.....
Ipanemas has lots of lovely restaurants (if somehat pricey!) close to hostel and we spent our evenings sampling a few!  Our favourite was a brazilian barbeque restauant where the meat was carried round to the tables and you indicated if you wanted any by displaying either a red or green card! 

Had a fantastic time in Rio and did not want to leave, but with time disappearing fast, we wanted to see some more of Brazil.  We had planned on heading south down the coast to Ilha Grande and Paraty, but the weather forecast didnīt look good (lots of rain!) so we decided to head north instead.  Chose to fly to the former capital of Brazil, Salvador (avoiding the 36 hour bus journey) and managed to get a good deal with one of the many budget airlines. Hope to spend a couple of weeks in the sunshine before heading back to Rio for our final weekend.....
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