RIP Kin Fertor

Trip Start Jul 19, 2010
Trip End Aug 13, 2010

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here it is, the Final Countdown. Woke up at 7, I say I woke up at 7, I was definitely awake at 7 due to the insane "mattress" I had. My final breakfast buffet of the trip and I was ready for our day of adventure. I could feel the nerves and excitement about hang-gliding in the room- I was absolutely buzzing, and stuffing my face with breakfast cake. So much sight seeing and adventure packed into this final day of my first solo travelling trip- could not wait! 

The majority of us who were left in Rio, minus Aoife and Stefan, took a minibus to a beautiful secluded beach where the hang-gliding office was, this was also where we landed. We met our pilots who were perfectly friendly and were living the life, doing these hang-gliding flights multiple times a day and taking in the breathtaking views. We then had to fill out some forms, basically declaring we knew that our life was in danger, and then we were given "Aspiring Pilot" cards with our names on, and a cool picture on the back. Mine said "Kin Fertor" - brilliant, my name is in fact Kim Fenton. Awkward if I were to die, that would be the ID in my pocket... RIP Kin Fertor!

Our pilots then pointed into the mountains overlooking the beach and showed us where we would be taking off from- incredible! We then quickly jumped into the cars, which didn't have any normal seats, instead, deck chairs! Crazy. We then made the drive all the way to the top of the mountain winding round and round as we reached the run off point. So crazily high!! Oh MAN!!! Out of the car we were then shown the runway which just drops into the mountain, literally just wooden planks which look out all over Rio de Janiero- UNBELIEVABLE! My legs just turned to jelly, as I walked to the edge of it to look down, I genuinely feared for my life as my knees just buckled at the overwhelming views, and of course the height. I then got kitted up first and after brief instructions from my pilot we were ready to go. He spoke to me in broken English and so when I say brief, I really mean brief... just a tad worrying. As we stood at the top of the runway, my hand on his shoulder ready to run, he told me "You just have to keep running, do not stop running else big shit will happen" ... wow "big shit will happen" - I really can't choose to back out at the last minute. Here we go! 

I have never done anything like this, and the feeling I had after lifting off was indescribable. Truly spectacular. The feeling was amazing, sprinting the short distance on the runway and then suddenly I was flying, unbelievable! It was so so cool to just stretch your arms out and soar through the air, over Rio de Janiero of all places! The view was incredible! I could see everything, the beautiful beaches, Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado, the Jesus Christ Statue, the city centre, Palm trees etc it was amazing! We then flew directly above the sea which was one of the best feelings ever and then we sped up as we came into line with the beach ready for landing. To land you are supposed to stand upright, and he "released" my legs and at this point I dropped and he was yelling at me to stand upright, but my harness wasn't secured in the right position on my crotch and so it really hurt. I just couldn't stand up straight! Uh oh. We then spun round and sped into the beach and this flight was exhilarating... however, when we came to land, instead of a smooth standard landing, my legs got caught in his and I just fell flat on my face! Haha, ah well, the experience was amazing, and I just wanted to go up there and do it all again straight away. The sights were breathtaking and I was so pleased that it was a beautiful day, so that I could fully appreciate the views below me. What an incredible place Rio is! I was then able to get a drink while I watched everyone else come into land after me, much smoother landings from my friends haha!   

All the hang gliding excitement carried on throughout the day and we returned to our hotel around 12 and enjoyed a mini pizza for lunch. Around half 1 out next minibus was waiting for us outside of the hotel waiting to take us on our City Tour. First stop the Jesus Christ statue.

The drive up there reminded me of the drive we had just taken up to the hang gliding drop off point, and so I knew what heights to expect! Exciting! Wow, the views were beyond anything I've ever seen, just as good as the views from Hang Gliding, but I was able to fully appreciate Rio from all angles as the views were panoramic and you could see for miles as the weather was so clear. Incredible, absolutely incredible. It was pretty packed to be honest, and so it was hard to get a good picture with the statue, but it was still an amazing experience. The statue itself was also awesome! The exciting thing was that we could see all the sights we were about to visit, including the magnificent, majestic Sugar Loaf mountain.
Next stop on our visit was to another view point of the city. Ruins of a building which had been cleverly transformed into art, this gave us outstanding views of Rio de Janiero, and more closely the shanty towns. I am running out of adjectives to describe the absolutely incredible inspiring views.

We were then dropped off outside this Cathedral which looked so dreary and scummy from the outside, but on the inside it was incredible! The cathedral was triangularly shaped, however from the outside it looked so dull and uninspiring- a complete different story to what awaited us on the inside. Spectacularly coloured glass windows which shone through to provide beautiful lighting to the historical Cathedral. The colours were intense and amazing

The next stop is a must for any music fan, in particular hip hop fans, more specifically, Snoop Dogg. We visited the famous steps in Lapa which were incredible. Each tile told a story, stories from all across the world including England and Ireland. England was depicted by things like the red double decker bus and The Beatles. The colours on display were so eye catching, and the art was so interesting and beautiful. The steps of Lapa were made famous by Snoop Dogg's music video and many famous artists like U2 have also visited. Whilst taking pictures sat on the steps we were whipping out the gangster poses, it was good fun. The steps were pretty steep, but it was impossible to study all of the tiles due to the sheer amount of them. Awesome steps, depicting the culture of not only Brazil, but the world.

Next stop, Sugar Loaf. WOW. Sugar Loaf is made up of two different cable car routes taking people from mountain to mountain, and there are two stops in total. The views just kept getting better and better. Truly spectacular. We had timed it perfectly and we were at the peak of Sugar Load mountain in time to see the sunset behind the Jesus Christ statue which was just amazingly beautiful- see photo. After admiring the colours of the sunset, it was then time to admire the colours of the nightline which we could see from all angles. Such a moving moment as we could see, again, everywhere which we had just visited, Copacabana beach looked beautiful, as did the lights of the city. The views were incredible, it was great to see the City and its beaches from another angle on top of the Sugar Load. It was then time for me to rush and say goodbye to the group. I couldn't have been in a more perfect place to say goodbye, it was so touching and special as the night became darker and the lights became brighter. There were tears all round, it was very emotional as I set off for my journey back to the UK. I took the two cable car journeys down by myself, getting sympathetic looks from fellow cabin car passengers as I stared out of the window taking in the sights one last time with tears rolling down my face. 

What an incredible journey and trip to take by myself, the most spectacular and breathtaking sights, from the coldest of places in Bolivia to the boiling hot paradise of Brazil, inspiring eye opening moments and some beautiful friends made. After Costa Rica, this has confirmed my interest in travelling well and truly.

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