White sandy beaches of Copacabana

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We arrived in a very hot Rio (26 degrees) at 21:05 local time. From the airport, we jumped on a bus which dropped us off close to the hostel, Che Lagarto. This was the start of all the lugging we would need to do with our bags. We survived our first test! On arrival at the hostel, we were greeted by extremely loud music which led us to believe that the place would be a right party hostel. The staff were extremely friendly and spoke perfect English. It was very funny sleeping on the top bunks of our dorm as they felt like tree houses, they were so high. The following day, we decided to just get a feel for our surroundings as well as taking in Copacabana beach. It was gorgeous, reminded us alot of Cape Town. Of course we got scalded lying out on the beach!! That night we went looking for a fun spot in Copacabana, however we were disappointed with the lack of bars so ended up drinking in the hostel. The 05th of October was the first day we started our tours. We did the City Tour from the hostel which took us to Christ the Redeemer, Santa Teresa (nice neighborhood), the Lapa steps, the main Cathedral and Sugar Loaf mountain. We were very impressed by Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf mountain. The views were amazing especially that of the Sugar Loaf at sun set. On this tour, we met an Australian girl called Gemma who we spent alot of time with in Rio. After the tour, we went to a nightclub in Lapa arranged by the hostel. The place was mental-streets were full of people playing Samba music, dancing and partying. So impressed by this, we only stayed in the club for an hour and moved out to the street. At this stage we had met a Russian girl called Daria, who also stayed in the hostel. She was gas craic! We spent the night talking and laughing before we got back to the hostel. Really enjoyed it! The next morning, the 4 of us headed off on the Favela (slums) tour. This was a highlight of Rio for us. We were dropped off at the bottom of the Favela where local motorbike taxis collected us and drove like crazy up the extremely narrow, busy streets. It was actually quite scary but very enjoyable. From the top, our tour began. Although, the slums were obviously run down and extremely dirty, we were very surprised by how commercial the whole place was. They had their own grocery shops, hair dressers, bars and even travel agencies. Sky satellite dishes were scattered throughout. The guide told us that although there were still drug lords living in the Favella, crime rates have dropped in the last few years due to increased police presence. That night, Daria had arranged to meet a friend who would get us in to a Samba club for free. We made our way there by metro and taxi. Our group at this stage had increased to 5. This was a Samba school called Tijuca, where local groups were practicing for carnivale next February. The place was filled with people of all ages and everyone from the kids to the oapīs were shaking their hips. We couldnīt help but stand back and stare for most of it because everyone was so good and the atmosphere was amazing. At the start, we felt like we stood out a mile (because we did) but by the end of the night, we all donned hats and flags and got carried away with it also. Sunday the 07th was our last full day in Rio. We walked down to Ipanema beach and went to a bar to watch the Premiership with Gemma. Most of the day was spent strolling around. There was a large screen on the beach which was showing the animated film, Rio. We brought a blanket, sat and watched the whole thing even though it was in Portuguese. The film really captured the beauty of Rio and we were amazed by how true to life the scenes were. Again, all age groups were out on the beach enjoying themselves. The next day we left for Sao Paulo. We were sad to leave especially with the hostel being so nice and having met really nice people but were looking forward to the next step of our journey in Sao Paulo.
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