'Cidade Marvelhosa' - Rum 'n Rain in Rio!

Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Nov 02, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Monday, June 22, 2009

The 'Marvelous City'.

For a change, this post doesn't begin with a lengthy diatribe about our horrendous/painful/annoying/stinking bus journey that was late/slow/cold/stinking. For a change it starts with a lenghty diatribe about our first internal flight of the trip. One that was cancelled. Then the replacement delayed. Maybe we annoyed the god of Public Transport at the ceremony in Salvador too.

All hard feelings and frustrations instantly disappeared upon arrival! Aaah...Rio, the city that the whole trip was inadvertantly based on (for carnival which we missed!) and now we are here! We cant quite believe it and we are just short of reduced to tears of joy at the thought of being in such a special place after all the dreaming and planning!

The bus from the airport gave us our first taste of this beautiful, bustling and very much alive city, with the backdrop being an unbelievable sunset as we wound our way through evening rush hour traffic, past the busy city centre, the rolling favelas and eventually to our hostel in Copacabana.

At last we have found a hostel filled with other travellers and a free welcome drink at the in-house bar would become the first of many ensuring that we both slept very well every night. Much to the amusement of the recent graduates and school leavers, at the ripe old age of 28, we both seem to be the grandparents of the hostel! Its been a while since the days of 3am drinkning sessions with students but we are happy to report that we haven't lost our touch and impressed the young'uns with our incredible skills and vast experience in this field.

First mission - Find Jesus. Turns out that he lives on a hill, in the middle of Rio. 36 Reals and you can go see him. He's a big guy, not all that talkative though.

Standard hostel-issue joke.

Ok, (yanking toungue away from cheek) seriously, Cristo Redentor was amazing. 13 storeys high at the top of the Corcovado (hunchback mountain). We got there (via the cog train) at just the right time to see Rio at dusk on a beautifully clear afternoon. It really is an amazing sight - truly special.

We also had a great morning on the famous Copacabana beach - walking there and back along the entire 4,5km length. Given that its the middle of winter here, 27 degrees was rather balmy! Later on that day we went up Pao de Açucar (the Sugarloaf). Grabbing a bus through town to the cable car station and then up to the top of this iconic mountain to look back at Rio. Again, sunset was the best time and again, Rio delivered a fantastic show!

Another incredible highlight was a little jaunt hang gliding over the city! Just the idea of hang gliding over this remarkable place was worth dipping into the 'cool-stuff-to-do-in-special-places-that-we-can't-really-afford' kitty. Strapped into our harnesses, that looked more like bulletproof apron (suitable for use by Venezuelan bus toilet cleaners after we'd given it a run for its money), and then hooked up to the wing we ran off the edge of a mountain into thin air, soaring like a bird (and above birds)... Yet another once-in-a-lifetime experience, hard to describe.

Unfortunately, thats where the great weather ended and the rain started. Ironically we were sat watching Wimbledon tennis in great sunshine while the rain came down in Rio. Something definitely wasn't right with that picture. An all you can eat steak house and 2 bottles of rum later with some new mates and all was well with the world again.

We didn't just drink away our sorrows during the rain, but also got to do some cultural activities in museums, markets and cathedrals and wandering the cobbled streets of the old town districts reached by an old tram, clattering up and down the hills of Santa Teresa.

The sun came out to play again so we took the opportunity to stay indoors for the morning and watch the rugby!! Wired on adrenalin from the nail biting finish of the rugby, we took to the streets of Rio for a lovely 15km stroll all along the beaches and also hired bikes to ride around the lagoon.

What better way to spend our last evening in Rio than with 90,000+ crazy football fans at the worlds largest football stadium - the 120,000 seater Maracaná! Pity it was a nil-nil draw, but the atmosphere was electric with the huge flags covering parts of the stadium, fireworks, drums and huge noise! Awesome...

Off to the immense Iguaçu falls in the morning (yep, you guessed it, another 24 hour bus to enjoy) and then on to Buenos Aires! Can't believe our time in Brazil is almost up - its really been an incredible experience.

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stephancy on

Rio cha-cha
It sounds like Rio was really the fulfilment of your journey and your dreams. I haven't studied the pics in detail yet, but it sounds like Rio is indeed a very special place. (I envy you there, but not with snakes or stinking buses!!) Can't wait for next instalment!

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