The girl from Ipanema

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Where I stayed
Lighthouse Hostel

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, October 19, 2008

Samba, sunshine, beaches and beautiful people - we had high expectations of Rio!  Luckily, they were all exceeded by a long way within a day of being here!  We arrived at 6:30am on our flight from Lima, caught a swanky air-conditioned bus to Ipanema and were soon settled in the friendliest hostel ever - the Lighthouse - and I for one was conked out on a bunkbed to catch up on sleep lost on the plane!

We've spent a week in Rio, and it's been the most relaxing fabulous time of our trip so far.  We've spent a few days sweating it out in temperatures over 30 degrees on the gorgeously golden Ipanema beach, jumping the waves to keep cool, and entertained constantly by the amazing parade of humankind passing us along the sand!  Beach sellers peddling anything from ice-cream and sun cream to barbequed cheese?? and prawns, all shapes and sizes of women squeezed into string bikinis (yes it really is true!), and men strutting their stuff in their speedos!

We spent a day checking out the sites: - up to Christ the Redeemer on a cog train for the famous picture-postcard views of Sugar Loaf and the beaches and bays of Rio; a walk through Centro to see the old cobbled streets and buildings in town; and a walk along Copacabana to check out the fabulous black and white pavement and to check we weren't missing anything by spending all of our beach days at Ipanema - check!

One day we took a crazy tram ride (jam-packed and with people hanging off the sides) up to Santa Teresa, an old neighbourhood with amazing but dilapidated old mansions behind high walls and ornate gates.  Here we visited Casa Jimmy, a home for 16 or so street kids, a project of the charity Task Brasil, that my mum and dad support.  It was great to see behind the scenes and meet the amazing people who make it possible through their tireless volunteer work, as well as the cutest kids imaginable, all of whom fought over our cuddles for the whole afternoon - how to feel wanted!!  They didn't seem to mind that we didnt have a clue what they were saying to us!  Some of the stories of why they were on the streets, and the horrors that they have experienced already by the age of 5 or 6 were heart-breaking, but at least they are all lucky enough now to have an amazing chance at a normal life as Task Brasil cares for them, teaches them and searches for suitable foster homes for them.  Check out for more info.  Thanks to Andrea for her fabulous friendly tour :-).

We also had high hopes of a few crazy nights out in Rio, and on Friday, this was also fulfilled, with an amazing night out in Lapa with Sabrina from our hostel.  Every Friday and Saturday night, Lapa fills with people drinking and dancing on the streets, buying cheap drinks from street vendors, and partying the night away!  Every city should have a Lapa - it was awesome!  The place was packed for street after street with happy people, and we started with a quick samba under an archway with the smiliest drummer ever, and some of the fastest shimmying bodies, before we headed off to explore, caipirinha in hand. 

The last couple of days in Rio, it rained, so we had a couple of cheap days chilling out in our hostel lounge, catching up on diaries, blogs, photos etc, and felt sorry for the new arrivals who may not see the sun whilst they're here :-( !

Of course, the other important side of Brazilian life is football, so i'll leave Nige to tell you about that, as I'm sure I wouldn't do it justice!!
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