Published: August 8th 2007June 7th 2007
The light at the end of the tunnel.
When a journey takes 24 hours, involves 4 flights and an 8 hour stopover at Lima airport because BA negleted to tell you that the flight time had changed from 20.10 to 23.55, you just hope to God that the final destination is worth all the effort! Thankfully for us, the destination was Rio, our final port of call before heading back to the real world.
Rio is dubbed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It took us a few days to realise this as at first it rained solidly and in Rio there isn't much you can do in the rain, as life there revloves around the beach and the sun. So we spent days one and two wandering around the shops, buying dirt cheap Havaiana flip flops and struggling to communicate in Portuguese. The latter was particularly evident when we stopped for some lunch opposite the Copacabana and ordered what we thought would be a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and a ham and tomato sandwich. We were presented with a steak and cheese, and a chorizo and onion baguette, respectively. Well it was close!
One thing you can do in the rain however
Just incase we forgot where we were
Very useful information when you visit as many countries as we have recently!
is watch football. No trip to Brazil would be complete without watching a match, so we took a trip to the Maracana to watch Vasco de Gama v Fluminese. The Maracana seats 97,000 spectators, which makes it one of the biggest stadiums in the world. There were a few empty seats at our game....the attendance was just over 20,000, but they certainly make enough noise for you to feel like it was full!! It was a true experience, with the amazing stadium, massive banners, drums, flares and constant singing, the Brazilians certainly love their football! It was just like being at Carrow Road. Well ok, it was nothing like it. During the game sellers wandered past in constant droves offering beer, hotdogs, popcorn etc. It certainly beats having to leave five minutes before half time to get to get a pie and a pint before the rush starts!! Anyway, back to the actual game. Apparently the great Romario was playing for Vasco, though as the players were like little blobs due to our high seats and there was no announcement of the teams (well not in a language we could decipher!) we were and still to this day are unsure
The 'Must Have' Photo
Max demonstrates how it's done..
if we saw him play or not. The whole match consisted of 'that could be him' or 'surely that was him'. We like to think he was playing and dont really wish to find out otherwise. Who can say they have seen one of the greatest stikers of all time (he recently scored his 1000th goal) playing in the Maracana in Brazil? Not many! The game finished 1-1, but to be honest the match atmopshere was the real winner. It was a brilliant experience, certainly one of the best for Max, who at one point proclaimed it to be one of the best nights of his life!
Thankfully the next day the sun was shining again, so we took the essential trip to Corcovado and the statue of Christ. This statue on top of the mountain is an iconic image of Rio, and it was definately one of the highlights of our stay. Once we arrived at the top we bustled our way through all the other visitors to get the 'must have' photo of ourselves in front of the statue with our arms held out and then spent some time admiring the view below. It was at
View from Corcavado
Not a bad looking place that Rio...
this point I started to understand why Rio had this 'beautiful city' tag...with the mountains and beaches sprawling out in the sunshine below it was an amazing sight.
After eventually making our way back to the hotel we set off for Ipanema beach, which was beside our hotel and spent an hour or so watching the world go by. This is the real Rio. Everyone loves the beach, be it to surf, sunbathe or show of those Brazilian tans in their little bikini's, they seem to spend most of their time here. Of couse everyone knows about the Copacabana (and yes we did launch into song a lot! 'At the Copa, Copacabana'....) but Ipanema beach has long taken over the crown. Copacabana may be more well known but Ipanema, on the other side of the bay, is much classier. With the tree-lined pavements behind you, and mountains at the far end of the bay, it's definitely the place to see and be seen. However, I must give the Copacana its due. On our last day the sun really did shine down, and no trip to Rio would be complete without a visit to the famous beach. As we sipped
Sugar Loaf Mountain
Complete with cable car attatched...
milk from our freshly opened coconuts we decided it was a lovely way to spend our last full day of our trip. The waves crashed down around us and the women in their thongs and absolutley no cellulite (how?!!) wandered past under the gaze of Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was easy to see why Barry Manilow wrote the song! All together now..
'At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in love'
Sorry. It had to be done! The morning of our last day was spent equally as nicely. Clear blue skies greeted us when we opened to the curtains so it was off to Sugar Loaf Mountain, or 'Pao de Acucar' to give it its Portugeuse name. We got a great taxi driver from the hotel who took us there, told us all about the sights, talked about fooball and waited for us to take us back home again. He even offered to take us to the airport the next day for a knock down price, an offer we readily accepted! Thanks Guillemo!
top of Sugar Loaf was done in two stages. We first took a cable car 700 feet up to Urca Hill, strolled around a while and then transfered to a second car which lifted us an additional 1300 feet to the top, a mere hill compared to the 4,200m we reached in Peru! However the views were spectacular, with the whole of Rio stretched out in front of us. With the waters glistening below, the sun shining down on our backs and the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking down over it all from Corcovado it was easy to agree that Rio was indeed a very beautiful city. A wonderful end to a wonderful trip.
Its hard to believe its all over. We are back home as I write this and I for one already feel like I haven't been away! However we have seen and done some amazing things and I am sure as we both relate our stories to our friends and families over the coming days, months and even years we will realise what a brilliant trip we have had. Without doubt the trip of a lifetime.
We both hope you have enjoyed our
What a lovely bunch of coconuts!
Enjoying a drink at the Copacabana
blogs over the last 80 days, it has been great writing them, and to have as a memory of the trip for ourselves.
See you very soon if not already,
lots of love
Clare (and Max
There are more photos below