• Day159

    Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

    February 9, 2016 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

    After an amazing final day in Argentina, we crossed the Brazilian border during a huge thunderstorm. The bus to Foz do Iguazu drove through the floods on the road before we eventually found a taxi to our hostel, Tetris Container. The hostel was made of large shipping containers, with each room and portacabin corresponding to a different colour.
    Next day, after a lovely breakfast, we got the public transport bus costing R$3.70 (€0.80) to Iguasu Falls. After paying the admission fee, we got a bus through the National Park to the walking trail around the Falls. We got more amazing views of the Falls before the heavens opened! However this didn't deter us from us from continuing to explore and enjoy the Falls. We walked across the bridge into the same Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) as the day before, this time viewing it from the inside. The sound and sights of the water gushing down from overhead was incredible, but also a bit scary, giving us an insight into how dangerous Mother Nature can be. After another amazing day, we went back to the hostel to try dry out our clothes before getting the overnight bus to Florinoplolis.
    Unfortunately the weather continued to be quite miserable Brazilian style (i.e 20 degrees with drizzle) in Florinoplolis. We stayed in Tucano Hostel where we chilled out and played some pool on the wobbliest, uneven table I've come across. We went to Iguatemi shopping mall to stock up on some new essential and unessential items. One particular sales guy tried to convince me to buy a phone cover with a solar powered phone charger inside it. I don't think he was too impressed when I highlighted that there was no sun in Ireland (he clearly had the wrong target audience!).
    Next we went to the cinema to see the new Jennifer Lawrence film 'Joy'. Edel research had revealed a 2 o'clock viewing for only R$11 (€2.40). Unable to turn down the possibility of a cheap cinema date, we bought the tickets and headed into the screen. I noticed a unusually high number of buggies at the bottom of the steps and as we got to our seats, I soon realised that we had encountered a parents and baby viewing. I looked around and every adult had a baby or toddler with them. There was baby changing facilities and a little play area at the front of the screen. We sat there babyless and no shame. It took us awhlle to ignore the sounds of the young audience but we soon got use to it and enjoyed the film none the less. We found out afterwards from a couple from Tyrone, who were there with their twin girls, that this was a monthly event and an enjoyable social outting for the new parents.
    Next day, to mark Sophie's last day of her holiday and our final day in Florinoplolis, we took a beautiful boat ride out to Costa del Largo where we visited the waterfall and had a lovely dinner of breaded bass and chips by the lakeside.
    Next day after saying goodbye to Sophie we flew to Rio De Janeiro with GOL airlines. As it was the week of Carnival, accommodation was extremely expensive and booked out months in advance. We had booked an apartment, through Air B&B, last August before we left on the trip. The one bedded apartment wasn't really fit for four people and only had air conditioning in the bedroom, so we moved the mattresses from the sofa bed into the bedroom for a nice cosy stay!
    Next morning we got a taxi to the Corcovado train station and took the 20 minute trip up to Christ the Redeemer statue. It was amazing to be finally at the top of this iconic landmark that overlooks the city. When we had taken all our photos, we got the train back down before hopping in a taxi across the city to Pao du Acucar (Sugarloaf mountain). We got the cable cars up to the summit for more amazing views of the city. Next stop was the Escadaria Selaron steps in Lapa, where we climbed the 215 steps, decorated with over 2000 beautiful ceramic tiles from 60 different countries. We then walked to Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião, the conical shaped cathedral made up of four large stained glass windows, measuring 64 metres high. Unfortunately when we got there it was closed for visitors however the doorman allowed us to take photos through the little gap in the door. We finished off the day with an evening at the Bloco party in Lapa. There is a Bloco or street party organised by each suburb over the Carnival period. There was lots of music and drumming with people dressed in all sort of costumes and outfits.
    The following day we went to the world famous Maracana stadium where we did the stadium tour. It held the 1950 and 2014 World Cup Finals and is due to hold the opening and closing ceremonies in the Olympics and Paralympics later this year. We joined the stadium tour and were brought to the dressing rooms where we posed with the jerseys of various soccer players including Ronaldo, Messi and the current Brazilian favourite Neymar. The tour guide asked us all where we were all from and who we supported. To our amazement he knew all about Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers from home. Next we were brought out onto the pitch and got to sit in the dugouts and take in the incredible views of the inside of the stadium. We then got the chance to take a penalty. It may have taken me three attempts to score (one was saved) but still managed to mimic what Pele had done to score his 1000th goal.
    Next we took the Metro to the Scorial Rio hotel to collect the Carnival tickets before spending the evening at the Ipamema beach watching the sunset beside Sugarloaf mountain.
    Next day was Carnival at the Sambadrome. We arrived at spectacular stadium filled with 90,000 people over the 700 metre long stadium. We took our seats on the steps of Section 10 and watched the crowd singing and dancing while waiting for the show to start. Each samba school had 90 minutes to parade in front of the crowd, each with their own anthem and theme with floats, thousands of dancers dressed in elaborate costumes and finished off with a drumming band. The colours and lights were spectacular and it was amazing to see the amount of time and effort into it (definitely puts the Dublin Paddy's Day parade to shame). We managed to watch five of the six schools before the tiredness hit at 4am and we called it a day. It was such an incredible experience and another one of the overall highlights of the trip. One of the best ways to finish our time in the amazing continent of South America!
    Read more