Rio, The Carnival & Iguacu Falls February 2007

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South America » Brazil
February 21st 2007
Published: August 23rd 2010
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Before my trip to Brazil someone had asked if I had ever seen the film ‘City of God’ I hadn’t but didn’t really think to ask why. This trip was nearly a three week long trip, my longest holiday at the time, I love caipirinhias (a traditional Brazilian cocktail), I love Churrrascarias (a type Brazilian buffet restaurant), I love sightseeing, what could go wrong. This is the story of my trip and how I got to enjoy everything I liked about Brazil plus some unexpected (and unwanted) surprises along the way........the things I do for love!

My girlfriend and I had decided to book a trip to Rio de Janeiro for our two year anniversary, luckily that fell at the same time as The Rio Carnival, to say I was excited would be an understatement, we were staying at a hotel on Copacabana beach, it wasn’t the nicest hotel but the location was great. When we arrived you could tell there was a festival, there were people everywhere, on the streets, on the beach, in the bars, restaurants and even open top buses full of people playing music and partying. We sat down for a meal and couldn’t believe how cheap it was, I knew the steak would be good here and it was (albeit a little too salty).

We had an early night on our first night as we were exhausted after our flight then first thing the next morning, the beach for a tan, the heat was almost unbearable and because of the way the beach is shaped there is very little breeze, the beach isn’t like a normal beach it’s a beach in a city at probably the busiest time of year so I knew it wouldn’t be as relaxing as usual, let me rephrase that it wasn’t relaxing at all. As I was laying there soaking up the sun I could tell that some people were standing just above my head as it was quite noisy and they were blocking the sun, I opened my eyes and we were surrounded by hundreds of people, the beach was packed, I was hoping it was only going to be like this for a few hours so went for lunch. I found a restaurant with a sea view and sat down for a meal, very nice but again very salty, there was no sign of the crowd going, if anything it was getting bigger, the plan for tomorrow find a quieter part of the beach to sunbathe.

We walked a bit further up the beach and found a spot we thought would be a little less noisy, as we were laying on the beach every so often you will get someone walking along the beach selling food and drinks, I heard two cute little girls talking to a woman sat not too far from us, they were speaking in Brazilian but I could see that they were asking her to buy them some crisps. The kids were not with the woman they were just wandering by, the woman was saying she would buy them one packet to share, just after she had paid for the crisps and sticking to her words only getting one for them to share the ‘cute little girls’ turned into little monsters, not happy with having to share the crisps the girls got a handful of sand and threw it at the woman that had just bought them a packet of crisps, what horrible little s**ts.

Some of my friends were a little jealous when I told them I was going to Rio as they had heard about all of the hot woman in Brazil (not that I’d be making a move on any of them, it was after all my two year anniversary with my girlfriend), I think the words ‘home of the G-string’ were used by one of them, however when I spoke to some of my Brazilian friends one said ‘if you like big bums you will love it’ well I can tell you one thing he wasn’t wrong. Brazil is the home of the G-string and I would say about 95% of the woman had them on however 99% of woman had a very big behind, not very pleasing for the eyes. One day I spotted a girl on the beach that was very slim and was getting a lot of attention from all the men on the beach, I pointed her out to my girlfriend and we both commented on the way she was sat, she sort of had a glamour model/porn star pose that did not look comfortable at all, there was something not quite right with this girl then I remembered something else my friend had told me. As there was a break in between guys talking to this girl she stood up, getting up in a very awkward way, before she completely stood up she looked around, ‘that’s odd’ I thought and then it became apparent why. As she stood up she had to tucked her penis between her legs......she was a dude! My friend was right again.

That evening was when we were going to the carnival, it starts as the sun sets and finishes as the sun rises as it is too hot during the day, we had heard if you want a good seat you need to get there early, the seats are free but having done my research I found a website that sells tickets for private boxes right next to the parade, the tickets weren’t cheap, about £300 in total, but I liked the idea of having some space and a personal waiter to get us drinks. I’m glad I booked the seats they were amazing, we were about 10 feet away from the parade and having space to stretch your legs and have a waiter for several hours was awesome. The parade is split up into individual Samba schools, each one has its own floats and dancers with the most amazing costumes, however each school has its own song that is played whilst they walk past and it takes about 45minutes to an hour for them to finish walking past, the same song for up to an hour on a loop, I can’t speak Portuguese but by the end of each school I knew the words for each song.

About 4am we decided to leave and get a taxi back to our hotel, where the hell do we get a cab at this time of night, luckily we found a taxi rank and got into a cab, as we were driving back I noticed the taxi driver drove through every red light we came to, I just thought he wanted to take us back faster so that he could get back to the parade, the real reason is because if he stops at the lights there is a chance he will get car jacked, I suddenly wasn’t enjoying this trip as much as before.

The next day after spending the day sunbathing again we decided to go out for a meal and as I was getting a little sick of Brazilian food and how salty it was I decided to visit the Hard Rock cafe, I love the Hard Rock and Rio has the second biggest Hard Rock in the world. We went to reception and asked them to call us a cab, we got in and asked to go to the Hard Rock, “where?” he says, “Hard Rock” we said several times “where?” he says again, I had a picture of it on a map and showed it to him “yes Hard Rock” he said, we finally thought he had understood us then he says “where is the Hard Rock?”. He’s asking us, how the hell were we supposed to know, I got out of the cab and walked back into the hotel and asked them to call us another cab but this time we wanted one that actually knew where he was going. After a very long drive we got to the Hard Rock and it was awesome, it turns into a huge club at night, I got my usual spicy chicken for starter and rack of ribs for main with one exception the spicy chicken wasn’t spicy, I pointed this out to the waiter who simply said “Brazilian’s don’t like spicy food”, that’s your tip halved!

I had a few caipirinhias and that put me in a good mood, so good that when it came to paying for the meal I couldn’t count the money lol, due to my excessive drinking we didn’t have enough for the taxi home so when we got back to the hotel I ran in to get some money to pay the taxi driver. After I paid the taxi driver and we were about to walk into the hotel the security guard at the hotel stopped us and said my girlfriend couldn’t come in, he began to talk to her in Brazilian thinking she was a local. We asked why he wasn’t letting her in, I can’t remember what his exact words were but he basically thought the reason I had run in to get money is because she was a prostitute and wanted the money before she came in, needless to say Nikki was not happy, in my drunken state I found this hilarious, lol. We later found out that Copacabana is the red light district in Rio.

We spent a day away from the beach to see the sights, we went to Sugar Loaf in the morning and got to go on the cable cart to the top, the views were breath taking, after our visit to Sugar Loaf we visited The Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statute. It was very crowded at the base of the statue but you could see the whole of Rio. That evening we decided to go out for a really nice meal so thought we would get dressed up, that was what caused trouble. The second we dressed slightly smart everyone knew we were tourists, or as the locals say ‘gringos’, we walked to a nearby restaurant and had another salty meal, the restaurant was in the back streets and as we walked home I felt a hand on my shoulder starting to pull down. It was a boy that must have been about 15 years old begging for money, he was covered in dirt all of a sudden I heard Nikki shout ‘your pocket’ the kid’s friend tried to pick my pocket so Nikki turned around and punched the kid in the face then we heard shouting. A large group of kids began to emerge from the bushes, it was like the children of the corn, we walked away and they left us alone, Nikki told me how much she didn’t like Rio and I’ve got to admit I felt the same.

We decided to book a trip to spend a few days away from Rio so we went to Foz de Iguacu (Iguacu Falls), on our flight we flew over the falls, when we landed we were taken straight to the falls, we went on a helicopter ride, booked to go over to the Argentinean side of the falls and booked to go on a boat trip that goes in to the mouth of part of the falls. When we got out of the car Nikki had a bag with some food inside, we saw some racoons heading in our direction and Nikki, being the animal lover that she is, bent over to say hello. The driver shouted at her to put the food back in the van but before she had time to put the bag back the racoons had started to tear the bag open, she threw the bag in to the van quickly and managed to close the door, we weren’t in the city anymore.

I’d taken some cash to Iguacu and Nikki had taken her card, I spent almost all of the cash on the helicopter ride and the excursion to the Argentinean side of the falls, before I spent almost all of the remainder of our cash on the boat trip I asked Nikki to get some more cash out, just to be on the safe side. Nikki put her card in but unfortunately there was some sort of problem, she couldn’t get any cash out and I didn’t bring my card, not to worry we won’t go on the boat trip and we’ll just have to eat the cheapest thing on the menu for the next three days until we were back in Rio. Nikki got a bit upset as she really wanted to go on the boat trip and she was angry that her card didn’t work, I hate to see her upset so I made a very big gesture, I suggested we book the boat trip anyway and as breakfast was included in the cost of our hotel we should stock up on that. I’m a man that loves food so this was a huge gesture and I made sure Nikki knew that, lol. So for the next three days we lived on a continental breakfast and every morning at breakfast we would take a bag and fill it up with bread rolls to eat for lunch and dinner and with the spare £7 we had we found a local market and found the cheapest food that we could to add to our bread rolls for dinner.

The boat trip was fantastic and the Argentinean side of the falls were so much more impressive than the Brazilian side, as we drove there our driver stopped halfway along the bridge and told us that he was in Argentina and we were in Brazil, he had crossed the boarder there was literally a line on the road. On the Argentinean side there is a long walk way that takes you all the way to the rim of the biggest part of the falls, as you walk along there are literally thousands of butterflies everywhere, once you get the end of the walk way and you’re looking over the edge into the falls the water sprays up and lands on you. As you walk back along the walkway the water dries and the butterflies like the salt so they begin to land on you to eat the salt, I’m not a big lover of insects so towards the end of the walk I got a little freaked out, at one point I must have had close to a hundred on my body. We both wished we had spent another day at Iguacu falls though as we didn’t have enough time to go on the excursion to Paraguay, but then again we wouldn’t have had enough money to go anyway, lol.

After three days with no real food it was nice to get back to Rio to eat real food, albeit very salty food. We booked another trip to go to a small island just off the coast of Brazil, called Angra Dos Reis, it was like a paradise island with turquoise blue lagoons, if I had my time in Brazil over again I’d have spent two weeks at this place, it was absolutely amazing. After our trip to Angra Dos Reis we went back to Rio and had a few more days there before returning home, carnival was over a week ago now so the beach was a little less crowded, we spent the rest of our time in Rio eating plain rice as all of the food in every restaurant we had been in was just way too salty.

After nearly three weeks in Brazil I have to say it was probably my worst holiday to date, apart from being at the carnival and going to probably the most breath taking place I have ever seen (Iguacu falls) I would not recommend Brazil unless you are travelling through and only spending a few days in each place, oh well roll on the next adventure!

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