Venice in Rio...??

Trip Start Jan 02, 2010
Trip End Jan 21, 2010

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Friday, January 15, 2010

We got up at 2.45, had some home brewed coffee and then headed downstairs to put our luggage into the taxi. We waved goodbye for the 3rd (and final) time to Marisol and took the 1/2 hour journey to the airport, where our taxi driver didnīt give us a receipt so we couldnīt get a refund :(
We lined up, made it through the gates, and decided to go to the cafe with WiFi to have a decent breakfast before boarding the plane. Carey ordered natural juice (heīs hooked on the stuff) and I got a submarine (which turned out to be hot milk and a bar of chocolate that you stir into it to make a hot chocolate. We also ordered some omlettes and for the last time ( I had had difficulties in the past day) I tried to email Larissa before we arrived in Rio to confirm that the time was OK and to let her know about Careyīs eating habits, and had written īhello. We will arrive at...`when I got a strange feeling in my stomach and got Carey to check the airport lounge. Everyone from our flighto was GONE! Shit!! We didnīt want to miss ANOTHER one!!!! So Carey drank his juice, I tried to finish my submarine but it was still too hot. We paid quickly for our breakfast, knowing we would never taste our omlettes :( and headed onto the plane, where we werenīt sure if they had a gluten free option for Carey on board! He ended up having the yoghurt and fruit salad, but no croissant or bread. Itīd have to do!

We were relieved when we got to the airport at Rio de Janeiro to see Larissa and her boyfriend John waiting for us, and even more amazed when I realised that her English skills are fantastic! Why hadnīt we been emailing each other in English this whole time instead of German, which was a strain for both of us??!

We got a tourism map, and headed through the streets of Rio for a driving tour to see a slum, the port, an old church, botofogo, ipanema, and copacabana beaches, sugarloaf mountain, and christ the redeemer high in the clouds. The geography of this place, to be chosen as a main city seems strange when you consider the landscape and how many hills and mountains are here. It does make it amazing to look at though!

After a pleasant drive, we arrived at Larissaīs where we settled into her room, and then headed out again for a huge lunch at an all-you-can-eat grill house. We had a huge buffet of salads, a selection of traditional side dishes including a flour Carey couldnīt eat and guys continually coming around with meat on sticks for us to try, coasters that we flipped to yes (green) or no (red) to show if we wanted to the meats, and some guarana soft drinks, which are normal here and Carey fell in love with.

Lunch was HUGE, we got full far too easily, and spent the time trying to work out which fruits that are native to Brazil that we havenīt tried so Larissaīs mum could buy them at the supermarket for us to try later on. After lunch we headed by bus (falling asleep just a little!)  to the City of Samba, where we got to see the floats for Carnival being made. After knowing how much work is involved in building a set for a show, this competely blew us away! There are around 10 competing schools, that have huge warehouses to build a minimum of 6  floats as a part of Carnival. Each school has a theme that their floats revolve around. Some make sense, some are just weird. The ones we liked were the ones about religion, don quixote, and never-ending story (which we thought would be THE Neverending story, but turned out to be famous, timeless stories instead, including my favourite float, which was a beautiful replica of the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast. We were able to take photos of all the old floats from last year which were on display outside the warehouses, but the works under construction, we were forbidden to photograph. Shame, because there was some amazing stuff! We bought some thickshakes from a place called īBobīs Burgers, which is like a brazilian version of McDonalds, and then took a couple of photos inside an exhibit we werenīt sure if we could photograph or not, before taking a taxi back to Larissaīs.

By the time we got back we were exhausted! 1 hr of sleep and some interrupted napping on a plane is not enough to keep you awake for a whole day! We ended up having a nice nap from 6-8.30 before getting up, eating dinner (rolls, cheese, ham) and getting picked up by John to go to an authentic street samba party. The closer we got to the destination, the more worrisome the clouds seemed to become. Once we had parked and started walking towards the crowd, the rain started, and did it ever! We ended up stuck in a downpour on a cold, crowded street where no one was dancing because they would be getting wet, but all hid under umbrellas instead (which I hadnīt brought) :( Carey put his hat on my head briefly, but I ended up getting soaked anyway! My shirt was wet, my hair looked like it was made from wet rat tails, and we ended up leaving within 5 minutes, but by then it didnīt really make a difference whether we were in the rain or not!

We headed next to a Samba bar in Lapa where there was a live band and our first glimpse at some samba dancing. Unfortunately, it wasnīt at all what I expected. It was far too different to what I had learnt. I know the ībalroomīmode and this was a simple dance which looked more like what people do in clubs back home...? I tried a brazilian drink with lime juice and sugar in it starting with C? and I got Carey to dance some of the few steps that he knows. Weīre resolved to find a dance teacher here (one who knows the ballroom style, not the club/street style or the parade style which appears to be another way again!)

We were still damp when we left the club, only to discover that the ridiculous downpour had turned the street into a river and there was no way for us to be able to get back to the car without wading through knee-deep dirty water! We ended up taking a massive detour around the block and approaching the car park from another direction. Happily we drove home and to our awaiting beds, ready for a more exciting day tomorrow (hopefully with better weather!)

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