Published: May 22nd 2012May 22nd 2012
Our last long distance jounrey went fine as we are rather used to them know, however once we got dropped off in Sao Paulo the fun began! Our bus arrived a few hours early so we arrived at 4am with no clue on where we were staying and as it is such a massive city this proved to be a major flaw. We waited an hour or 2 for the tourist information to open, which it didnt, so just got what we thought was the closest hostel in our lonely planet book and ordered a taxi in which the wrong area was written down for the driver, so ended up in the middle of what looked like the business district at 8am with no clue on what we were doing with our heavy bags, in the cold and shattered. Thankfully after a few attempts, a partially speaking english taxi driver picked us up and we headed for the right hostel, after paying alot to get there. As we had arrived before 2pm (check-in) we had to pay for another half a day as we needed to sleep but the extra money was no issue as we literally spent all the time in the room apart from popping out for some food...of course steak! Decided to leave early the next day as Sao Paulo was just another huge city in which we didnt want to see anything, so the next morning we were ready to leave for our short jounrey north to Ubatuba. We comfirmed with reception the correct bus terminal and they put us into a taxi, traffic was awful and took us ages to get there and obviously cost a fortune, and then when we arrived we find out we were taken to the completly wrong place and then had to get the busy metro with all our bags across the city. We just missed the bus but after a 2 hour wait we were on our way to Ubatuba.
By the time we arrived it was pitch black as in Brazil it is dark everyday before 6pm (as we have just dicovered it is winter here. So much for following summer around the world!) Got to our hostel which was opposite the beach, in a very very quite area but everything we needed was on our block so there was no need to travel at all. We spent our day there lying on the beach which was lovely and the scenery of surrounding moutains, but ordering the worst drink ever of passionfruit, vodka and some kind of milky substance which curddled and was just awful. So from here we found out just pointing to a picture isnt neccessarily the best option! Although we just wanted a beach and to relax we still wanted abit of atmosphere so made our way to Paraty the next day.
It was a nice striaght forward journey, but once we arrived was slightly taken back as it looked nothing like it did on the internet, just another run down town. Decided not to worry though as a beach is a beach and it was alot bigger than Ubatuba so at least we would find something to do here. No clue where to stay as per usual, so went to tourist information who lead us to a basic hostel, which was extrememly expensive for what it was, even though we ended up here for a good few days, as according to her everywhere else was booked as there was a festival that weekend. We went in search for the cobbled streets which Paraty is known for, with alot of cheap handmade crafts, however not so cheap after all! Was nice to wonder the streets though but after a day we knew our way around the whole place, and then the weather took a turn for the worse! We had booked a jeep tour of the surrounding waterfalls and distilleries which we were really looking forward too, so we were kitted out in our bikinis ready for the day, but then the rain came! The tour was good apart from we were the youngest people by about 40 years, so we drove around visiting the waterfalls which in the current weather didnt look so appealing and it was far too cold to even get in the water, so we just stood and took some pictures. Some of the waterfalls included a rope swing and a smooth rock which you could slide down but with the rain pouring and the temperature about 15 degrees we didnt risk it! After this we went to a few distilleries to try Brazils traditional spirits, which were rather hiddeous but did buy a bottle of maracuja flavoured drink which has yet to be drunk! We spent a few more days in Paraty hiding in the hostel as it was wet and cold, we had to resort to wearing trousers which we werent too pleased about, and the festival never really happened or we didnt see any of it anyway apart from blow up tents. Our plan was to then go and visit a few islands futher north but because of the weather decided to give it a miss as it would of been miserable in the weather and headed to our last stop.. RIO!
So arrived in Rio in a bus station somewhere outside the city and jumped in a taxi to our hostel as we were too tired to get the bus with all our bags as we have accumulated alot more over the months, and for once we knew where we were actually heading although it was actually booked up. However as our hostel/s are in a little side street we stayed next door for the first 2 nights so not alot of hassle in moving our bags 2m down the road. Although we havent been enjoying cities, we love Rio! Everything we need is on our door step with the beach 2 blocks away and generally has a really laid back vibe about it. Our first few days we spent wondering the local districts and of course Copacobana, which isnt what we expected but the beach is gorgeous with soft white sand and massive waves. Our main objective was to relax and do nothing for our last week but we have taken the time to sight see around the City. First we went on a favella tour, which was amazing. We were picked up by a local guide and driven to a favella with another 5 people, 3 of which were these very loud black american men which i dont think stopped talking once, but they were a laugh. As we were approaching the favella our guide told us abruptly that we were all about to get a motorbike taxi up to the top of the favella which as you can imagine we were a little apprehensive about as neither of us have ever been on a motorbike. As soon as we got out we were wisked onto the back of a bike, a hemlet shoved on your head and we were away and loved every minute of it even though we were abit unsteady to start with. So we arrived at the top of the favella and started our descent through the narrow streets. We stopped at a viewing point at the top which gave a really good view of the favella, beach, moutains and apartment blocks and were told about the history and communties within the favellas. We visited an art studio with local work and the artists were also there, and then vsited a bakery and local stalls whilst we were wondering the streets. We were walking along a tiny street with alot of people under a covered area and were asked not to be scared and to gather around, the children/teenagers then got metal tubs and began drumming and little children dancing in the street, doing the splits and generally having a good time, it was so nice to watch. it took about 2 hours to get the the bottom of the favella with everyone we passed and met being so welcoming and one of the best tours we have been on! Next we visited Christ of the Redeemer, after getting up early in order to miss the rush which didnt really go to plan as from leaving the hostel to arriving at the top took us around 3hours. We had to catch a train to the top and then climb a few stairs to reach the summet and it was just as we expected. The christ was massive and very impressive and a beautiful view of the whole city, however extremely crowded and everyone was standing on top of each other taking the classic picture, but well worth the hassle. On the way back down we were hounded by chinese tourists taking so many pictures of us and with us, we felt like celebrities it was all abit strange, and at the end rather annoying as you would be in mid conversation and know that there was a camera 5m away taking pictures of you doing nothing, weird! Our original plan was to go to sugarloaf afterwards but we came to the conclusion we would pretty much see exactly the same view and because of the price gave it a miss, and instead went on a bike ride around the lagoon. We hired a 2 seater bike/buggy with a canopy which was a little challenging to ride to start with, as we rolled down a hill but soon got the hang of it and we motored around the whole lagoon in an hour and were rather impressed with ourselves, even though did get some strange looks but we had fun! Our last few days has mainly consisited of the beach, relaxing and eating which was what we do best and still by no means ready to come home but the time has come. We had loved Rio and sure we will be back one day, hopefully soon! Our last night night and off for some mojoitos to celebrate an amazing a 5 months and to commiserate the return home (cant wait to see you all of course.)