A Travellerspoint blog

Rio de Janeiro

overcast 23 °C
View South America on ravroops's travel map.

Rio is an amazing city, with several hills, amazing beaches and a buzzing vibe. Unfortunately, due to poor weather and tons of tourists, I don't think we got to fully appreciate it. I was very disappointed with the lack of candy-floss bikinis on show!! We spent a few days with Seb and Benny, a couple of French guys we had met in Salvador. As Benny had previously lived in Rio, it was like having our own guide!

Our personal highlight was watching the sunset from Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). Rio looks spectacular by night, and it was amazing to watch the city light up as the sun went down. Christo Redento (Christ the Redeemer) is also meant to be amazing, though due to the heavy cloud, we could barely see his face - even though we were only 30 feet below him! On a clear blue day, I could imagine it would be amazing, plus you get brilliant views over the city.

We spent most of our time wandering around the city, exploring local markets and checking out the sights. It rained in the late afternoons/evenings which severely impacted our beach time - at least we have Ilha Grande and Paraty to look forward to.

One of the annoying things about being in Rio (and in Brazil in general) was the language barrier. During Chile and Argentina, we'd got to the level where we could get the gist of a conversation in Spanish, and the locals would often make an attempt to communicate in English. In Rio, not only do they speak another language (Portuguese) which we had to learn, but they refuse to speak any other language (even Spanish) and they speak so quick!! Now I know what you guys put up with when you're listening to me speak!

Rio

Rio


Rio's most famous staircase - Escadaria de Selaron

Rio's most famous staircase - Escadaria de Selaron


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Funky church from the outside

Funky church from the outside


Funky church from the inside!

Funky church from the inside!


More South American graffiti

More South American graffiti


Rio's botanical gardens

Rio's botanical gardens


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Typical...Roops not paying any attention to what people are saying

Typical...Roops not paying any attention to what people are saying


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So cloudy...can barely see the statue of Christ the Redeemer

So cloudy...can barely see the statue of Christ the Redeemer


Rio by night from atop Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Moutain)

Rio by night from atop Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Moutain)


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Posted by ravroops 16:54 Archived in Brazil Tagged rio Comments (0)

Ilha Grande

sunny 30 °C
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Next stop was the island of Ilha Grande, a 2 hour boat ride off the coast of Brazil. We'd heard so much about the island that we were worried that it wouldn't meet our expectations - it more than surpassed them!

The island itself is fairly large, with a sizeable jungle covering the hills in the middle of the island, and beautiful beaches surrounding it. The most beautiful beach is Lopez Mendes, which from the main town is a 2-hour hike through the jungle. En route, we saw massive spiders (and even bigger webs!), amazing butterflies, and some smaller beaches to help us recover from the temperature and humidity. The two hour trek was definitely worth it - Roops said the beach was almost as nice as some of the ones back in Kenya - high praise indeed! We hired surfboards and boogie boards as we made the most of the clear blue skies and crashing waves. At the end of the day, we were knackered and didn't fancying hiking back, so we jumped on a boat back (though first we stopped at a floating bar for a quick drink! You get ferried across to the bar which is moored in the ocean - such a cool idea!)

The next day was my birthday :( Rather than letting me mope around and feel like an old man, Roops had planned an action-packed day. She had lined up a day cruising around the island on a speedboat, with an ice-box filled with cold beers! We had an awesome day snorkelling, eating and drinking (though I got a bit sun-burnt!). That evening, we met up with some people we had met on our travels, and went for fresh seafood and some more booze...definitely ranks as one of my best birthdays ever!

Oh nearly forgot to mention - on Ilha Grande there were several self-service Ice-cream shops! Simply load up your tub/cone with whatever mixture of flavours you want, and then you get charged by the weight of ice-cream. Roops was a frequent visitor to these shops!

Brazil is the first country that we're ticking off our list, and whilst we're happy to get to cheaper countries elsewhere (the costs are on a par with London!), we're gutted that there are so many places which we haven't had time to explore, for example Florianopolis or some of the islands by Salavador. Oh well...there's always next time!!

From tropical jungle to white-sand beach...

From tropical jungle to white-sand beach...


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Surf's Up!!

Surf's Up!!


The floating bar..like we need an excuse to find somewhere to drink!!

The floating bar..like we need an excuse to find somewhere to drink!!


Sun, Sea, Sand....what more could a guy want on his birthday?!

Sun, Sea, Sand....what more could a guy want on his birthday?!


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Speedboating around Ilha Grande

Speedboating around Ilha Grande


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Posted by ravroops 18:34 Archived in Brazil Tagged ilha_grande Comments (0)

Parati

sunny 25 °C
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After the mayhem of Carnival we needed some chilling out time, so we headed south to Parati. Our bus from Rio left at 4am, so we headed straight from a nightclub (via our hostel to grab our bags) straight to the bus station! Roops was a little worse for wear!

Parati is a colonial town on the coast, with narrow cobbled streets which would start flooding when it started to rain. The cobbles were so large that it would hurt your feet after a while! As with the rest of South America, there were pretty churches and plenty of dogs running around on the streets! On every corner, there would be someone with a cart full of desserts - Roops was in heaven! No cars were allowed in the historic part of town, so instead you would see horse and carts ferrying peeople around.

The beach in Parati isn't that amazing, but you can spend a day out on a boat and visit several islands nearby - which we did. It was great to snorkel with several species of fish in clear blue water. We had gorgeous weather as we chilled out on white-sand beaches, went for a quick swim, and then sun-bathed on the boat...definitely beats a day out in Brighton!

Whitewashed colonial buildings

Whitewashed colonial buildings


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Colourful boats docked in the harbour

Colourful boats docked in the harbour


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Santa Rita - oldest church in Parati

Santa Rita - oldest church in Parati


Island hopping around Parati

Island hopping around Parati


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Rav's idea of swimming...

Rav's idea of swimming...


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Smile for the camera!

Smile for the camera!

Posted by ravroops 17:04 Archived in Brazil Tagged parati Comments (0)

Rio - Carnaval!

all seasons in one day 24 °C
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Seriously...one flight needs to leave on time. We arrived at Salvador airport only to be told that the flight had been rescheduled by 5hours - panic!! We had arranged to buy our Sambadromo tickets from a local in Rio, and the delay meant we would be late in meeting him! We finally arrived, and rushed straight from the airport to meet Marcelo. We just about made it to his apartment and bought our tickets, only then to find out that no taxi driver would take us to our hostel! There was a massive street party in that area, and traffic wasn't being allowed through. Also we were running late for the Sambadromo, and we couldn't turn up with our backpacks! Fortunately, Marcelo offered to keep our bags for us at his place for the night...so a quick change of clothes later, we left his flat for the Rio Carnaval!

The Rio Sambadromo is split into two nights (we were there for the 2nd night), with six samba schools performing on each night. From the twelve performers, six go through to the Champions Parade, from which the winner is chosen. Each school picks a theme for their 2-3 hour performance, and a five minute song which is sung repeatedly throughout their show! Some of the memorable themes from the schools we saw were:

1. Evolution: Possibly our favourite parade, this chronicled Darwin's theory of evolution, with costumes starting with basic animal life, through dinosaurs and other reptiles, ending up with mankind. The costumes were super-colourful, and this was definitely our favourite song.

2. Hollywood: The second show (and the eventual winners) was about the dreams of a young guy who wanted to make it big in Hollywood (he'd been watching too much Entourage lol!). There were floats about different famous movies, including a massive King Kong atop a skyscraper. They also managed to rope in Ronaldinho (footballer), Gustavo Kuerten (tennis player) and Giselle Bundchen (hot!) into their show!

3. Black Magic: This was all about witchcraft. Massive floats with witches and cauldrons (one got stuck on a low bridge...they had to take off its head and reattach it!)...it was a really good performance, but it conincided with a massive downpour! We spent ages trying to find means of keeping ourselves dry!

4. The final school was a tribute to Roberto Carlos, a famous Brazilian singer. We only saw half of this performance though...by then it was 7.30am (the whole night was meant to be over by 3am!), we'd been awake for 26 hours, and we needed to try and find our hostel!

The whole night lasted over 10 hours, and was an amazing, colourful event. The costumes were spectacular, with plenty of thought and imagination going into it. The singing and live band added to an electric atmosphere - the night more than matched our expectations.

Eventually we managed to check-in, get a couple of hours sleep before heading back to Marcelo's to grab our luggage, and then off to explore Rio!

Roops has decided who she's supporting!

Roops has decided who she's supporting!


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Jumping frogs

Jumping frogs


Supersized Spiders!

Supersized Spiders!


Darwin's theory has reached birds

Darwin's theory has reached birds


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Moby Dick

Moby Dick


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Finally some protection from the rain!

Finally some protection from the rain!


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Sexy Samba Senorita!

Sexy Samba Senorita!


7.00am...the sun has risen and the party is still going!

7.00am...the sun has risen and the party is still going!

Posted by ravroops 12:32 Archived in Brazil Tagged rio sambadrome Comments (1)

Salvador - Carnaval!

sunny 31 °C
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Another flight, another delay. Surely at least one flight in this entire trip has to leave on time?! We were itching to arrive...we were heading to Carnaval! Whilst Rio is probably the most famous place to celebrate Carnaval, Salavdor is known to be where most of the locals go to party...and this was reflected in the music everywhere...Brazilian popstars performing for over 2million hyper revellers! We didn't understand many of the words, but we managed to learn some of the dance moves...some of them resembled the Macarena!

There are three main circuits, and fortunately we were staying by the biggest one. Imagine a 1.5mile long street party, with over 100 nightclubs on either side of the street, and you can start to appreciate the scale of Carnaval. We spent the first night in one these 'nightclubs' (called Camarote). As well as getting a brilliant view over the street parade, you get access to bars and food, internet, a games room (with Wii, trampolines and pool tables), a cinema room, massesuses, hairdressers, artists...you could spend the whole night inside without even being disturbed by the meyhem outside! The parades went on until 7am...the Brazilians certainly know how to party!

Another day, we spent in the historic part of Salavdor - Pelourinho. Over here, the music was less pop and more percussion. There was definitely a very different feel here...we managed to tag along with a group who were celebrating Gandhi! We watched them carry out a ritual where they were chanting and releasing white doves...before getting on the beers and partying the night away!

On our final night in Salvador, we decided to spend it on the streets amongst the local crowd. It was absolutely crazy...you felt like you were in an ocean of people, getting pushed and pulled in all directions as people fought to get to the front. We'd been warned about pickpockets (we were advised to keep our money in our socks!), but we didn't realise that the worst offenders would be the Carnaval security guards! They'd be eyeing pockets as people walked past, and with little tact, would shove their hands into pockets. We saw many ripped pockets as a result of these frisky hands...fortunately we managed to get through Salvador with all our possessions in tact (we didn't even lose anything!!).

Street party in full swing

Street party in full swing


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Police patrolling the streets for trouble makers

Police patrolling the streets for trouble makers


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Roops wants to be a Chiclete too!

Roops wants to be a Chiclete too!


Salvador's lighthouse

Salvador's lighthouse


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Pelourinho

Pelourinho


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Gandhi HQ

Gandhi HQ


Roops and the Gandhi followers

Roops and the Gandhi followers


Gandhi ritual

Gandhi ritual


Outfits looked great - a sea of white

Outfits looked great - a sea of white


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Posted by ravroops 06:00 Archived in Brazil Tagged salvador Comments (0)

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