03.02.2016 - 19.02.2016
Since the start of the adventure
Hours on bus 161.5 hours
Hours on plane 45 hours
Hours in car: 6 hours
Hours on train no changed
Things we have learnt:
Samba is hard
It's really hot in Rio and Phil owes his life to the mini portable fans from China
The British version of the caipirinha is a disgrace. Do not underestimate a proper Brazilian caipirinha- it rendered Debbie unable to walk a straight line after 1 (and we know she can hold her drink....)
It is possible for a human being to fall asleep 2 metres from the carnival parade (we were sat next to him, though it was 3 am and we're guessing he was in his 70s, but still)
We have a love-hate relationship with DEET- destroys everything it touches and certainly stings the nostrils when breathing through your nose but hey, it works.
Phil has officially grown up and will now start acting like a responsible adult (hmm)
Vicky doesn't like monkeys
The cartoon Rio and Rio2 represents the city quite accurately! Highly recommend!
Phil's injury count: a bee/hornet sting , a further episode of man flu. Turning 30.
RIO DE JANEIRO
So after 2 flights we arrived at the colourful city of Rio! As we stepped out of the airport we were hit by the humid heat (Phil's worst nightmare). We were a little nervous about the naughty mosquitos too with all the news about the Zika virus. Fortunately neither of us were pregnant/ planning on getting pregnant but the prospect of Guillain Barre didn't take our fancy. However, the government really did a good job at fumigating the city! During our stay we only saw 3 mosquitos and Debbie only got bit once (we were doused in 55% DEET).
It was carnival season and so it felt like the whole city was at a stag/hen do. The fancy dress costumes we saw were incredible and very imaginative. First few days we rested up in preparation for our 2 nights in the Sambodromo! (where the samba schools parade down). The parade was like nothing else! Thousands of people dancing in beautiful bright feathery and sparkly costumes. Even the cleaners dressed in orange jumpsuits brushed and cleaned to the beats! ( an army of cleaners follow the end of each parade to brush away all the sequins and feathers etc ready for the next samba school!) We were so close to the dancers that we managed to high five a few! Each samba school has 60 minutes to work their way down the Sambodromo, which meant they had to dance and sing for a full hour! The energy and enthusiasm was amazing! The Brazilians in the audience were samba-ing away, old, young, men and women! Samba really is in their blood and it just added to the already making atmosphere! We managed to stay till the end of the show which ended at 5 am! What a lovely way to celebrate Phil's 30th! This is definately something we want to do again!
Being in the Samba city we obviously had to give it a try. So we booked a class which included an one hour lesson followed by a trip to one of the most famous samba clubs in Rio to try our new moves. What were we thinking?! After an hour there were certainly no new moves to try! So we drank caipirinhas instead and watched other people samba away! But hey, at least we tried and kudos to the celebrities on strictly come dancing who learns a whole routine within a week! We spent an hour and can't even do the most basic step!
After a quick recovery from our party nights we took a trip to the favelas (slums) located on the mountains and so has the best view of the city ( see photo). We were told the rich are starting to buy land in the slums to build mansions as the views are so beautiful. Of course there's the famous Selaron steps made by the Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the Brazilian people. It's believed that he set himself on fire and died at the bottom of the steps....
Time came for Mama Lam And Vicky to take a break from the UK cold and roast themselves in the Rio heat! We did our rounds at Christ the redeemer (took a lot of photos!) and took a cable car to the sugar loaf mountain, which unfortunately was covered by clouds when we got up there (we still took lots of photos!).
We gave the traditional Brazil meat house a try on Valentine's Day! ( which isn't a big deal over here, we saw no adverts and no couples dining out..) and it was a very interesting experience. You had a card on the table, one side was red and the other green, if you wanted meat, you left your green side facing up. If you didn't want meat you flipped the card onto red side. Trouble was, if you left it on green, armies of meat man come charging towards you with a massive skewer of meat and a very sharp knife! If you declined the meat, they get very sad. They were also very quick so before you could ask what the meat was you found you had a generous portion sliced onto your plate. Vicky was not impressed when the meat man served 11 chicken hearts onto Phil's plate before he could decline. I mean, i understand it is a delicacy and I suppose it kind of taste nice.......kind of....but who would eat 11?! They had 11 different cuts of meat on their menu and we aimed to try all 11. However, they didn't mention that they had several different ways of cooking each cut of meat ( in butter, in cheese, with garlic etc) and so they actually offered over 20 types of meat....we managed about 10 between us (Debbie being the champion) before we had to all flip our green cards onto the red. We didn't eat meat for a while after this...
IGUACU AND IGUAZU
After a few days of enjoying the beach scene, good food and caipirinhas we moved onto Iguacu (which was even hotter!). The Iguacu falls were amazing! We're glad we bought our ponchos as the sprays completely drenched us! We then crossed the road (having bought ice lollies to go) to take a look at the bird park and to our surprise we saw so many beautiful birds in big enclosures that you can walk into. Our highlight was definitely the cute toucans that did not look real! They were like stuffed toys! (Anyone know where we can source one in the UK. We want a pet toucan!)
Having seen the magnificent waterfalls from the Brazil side we took a day trip to Argentina to see it from the other side! Crossing the border in a taxi was interesting.. The taxi driver, Louis ( who subsequently became our "private" driver for rest of the trip) took our passports and had them stamped, no one got out of the taxi, no one checked how many of us were in the taxi. It was all very causal. The falls from the Argentinian side was just as spectacular and made being extremely hot and sweaty worth it.
Time came for Vicky and Mama Lam to go back to the UK cold! We waved good bye as they headed back to Rio from Iguacu while we headed to Argentina to embark on the next chapter of our adventures....Buenos Aires, watch out!