Alex and Tom

Joined May 2017
  • Day71

    07/07/17-11/07/17 Costa Verde

    July 10, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    07/07/17-11/07/17 Costa Verde

    We are writing this at the airport in São Paulo having had an incredible few weeks.

    We spent our final few days travelling along Costa Verde, the coast line between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, to enjoy some sun!

    We hired a car from Rio and set off to our first stop, Ilha Grande. The majority of the journey was fine, but was a little bit hairy driving through some of the cities. We got there in one piece, managing to get to the last boat of the day with minutes to spare. It's safe to say our time keeping has not improved throughout our trip!

    Ilha Grande is home to Lopes Mendes beach, which was voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world. It was very secluded, with white sand and very blue sea. It was so secluded that you have to hike for 2.5 hours to get there. We had a lovely chilled afternoon playing in the sea.

    The hike there wasn't easy, but was very pleasant and we stopped off at various beaches en route. On one of the beaches there was a floating bar in the sea, where we enjoyed some cocktails and BBQ in a picturesque setting.

    After two nights on the island, we returned to dry land and travelled further up the coastline to a town called Paraty. Paraty is very beautiful and has amazing cobbled streets with the biggest cobble stones we have ever seen. We spent our first afternoon doing a bar crawl of the beach bars, enjoying some final caipirinhas, which made manoeuvring the cobbles on the way home a bit tricky!

    On our final day, we went horse riding in the hills surrounding Paraty. The views were spectacular, and our guide clearly adored his horses.

    That afternoon we took the long drive (4.5 hours) to São Paulo where we spent our final night in an airport hotel, so that we would be there in plenty of time to catch our flight the following day.

    We have both had an incredible time and are both disappointed to be leaving. If we could stay longer, I don't think either of us would think twice about it! We will definitely be back. This trip has definitely stirred up the travelling bug... we can't wait for our next adventure.
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  • Day70

    04/07/17-07/07/17 Rio De Janeiro

    July 9, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    04/07/17-07/07/17 Rio De Janeiro

    We flew from Iguazu to Rio de Janeiro. This was part of our trip we were both looking forward to, but also marks that our trip is coming to an end which we are both gutted about.

    In Rio we stayed in guest house that was recommended to us by a friend of a friend. It is run by a brother and sister from Canada. We are glad it was recommended to us, as was a bit away from the typical tourist locations in Rio and so we would never have found it! Although it wasn't central, it was really easy to get Uber's and they were incredibly cheap. The owners were so lovely and friendly and gave good advice on how to fill our time in Rio. Plus the view from their veranda was insane! You could see all over Rio. It was called Casa Dois Irmaos and we would thoroughly recommend it if anyone goes to Rio.

    We had two full days to fill, and we really did fill them! On our first morning we did a lot of walking. We visited the Botanical Gardens and the Parque Lage which were very pleasant.

    We then went to visit Rio's famous beaches. Starting by walking along Ipanema Beach and going up to Copacabana. We were pleasantly surprised by the beaches, which despite being city city beaches, were very clean. Even for a Tuesday afternoon in "winter" they were busy and lively.

    In the afternoon we decided to climb the Sugarloaf, one of the mountains in Rio that offers great views of the city. We could have taken the cable car, but decided to go an alternative route and climb.

    Our guide spoke limited English, and told us it would be mainly hiking, with 15m of climbing. We think that his meaning of "hike" was different to ours, it was more of a scramble and the majority of it was so steep we crawled up on our hands and knees. It was hard work but great fun! And so nice not being surrounded by other tourists.

    At the top, there was a bar (yay!) so we stayed to watch sun set over Rio with some cocktails, which were lovely. We got the cable car down though!

    The following day we started by visiting a favela. These are the "slums" in Brazil, where the poorer population live. There are lots of bad associations with favelas and the people from favelas, predominantly as many are run by drug traffickers and invoke large amounts of crime. Since the take over by Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) they have become overall safer to live in. There are lots of very strict rules and regulations in the favelas, including that anyone caught stealing gets their hand cut off, which actually made it safer than some other places in Rio.

    We visited Rocinha, which is the largest favela in Rio, with 300,000 people living inside it. It is one of the safest favelas in Rio, with low crime rates. We were shown around by a student who had grown up in Rocinha and still lived their now. She was very sweet and showed us all around, including her own home, which was really nice of her. It was actually quite nice inside. The tour company she works for is run by a half American- half Brazilian man, who was born in the favela and returned to the favela 20 years ago. He has been living there since. It was interesting to experience a different area of Rio and learn that all the prejudices associated with favelas was not accurate. In fact, people in favelas are treated very unfarely.

    That afternoon we stopped by a cafe to have empanadas for lunch, we have had quite a lot of these throughout our time in both Brazil and Argentina. They are like pasties filled with a variety of fillings and a very common and popular snack/lunch out here. These particular empanadas were some of the best!

    We then took the cog train up the mountain to see the Christ the Redeemer statue up close. Throughout Rio you can see it up on the mountain, however whenever we looked there was a cloud over it!

    When we got to the top, we were surrounded by cloud, but you could still see see the statue pretty clearly.

    It is one of the modern 7 wonders of the world, but we weren't overly impressed! But we couldn't come to Rio without seeing it.

    Another thing we couldn't come to Rio without seeing was the Escadaria Selaron, the brightly coloured stairs created by a Chilean artist, Jorge Selaron. They are covered in lots of coloured tiles and are impressive. We visited en route to our evening activity - food tour.

    We heard about the company "Eat Rio" from our guest house. It is run by a Brit called Tom who moved here 7 years ago after meeting his now wife travelling. His tour takes you to lots of traditional places, off the tourist track to sample lots of Brazilian food and drinks. Everyone we spoke to highly recommended it, but it was a full day so we didn't think we would be able to fit it in.

    Tom emailed him in advance asking whether they offer an evening tour, and we were in luck! We were offered to be his guinea pigs in an evening tour that he hadn't yet trialled at 50%.

    It was a lot of fun! There were 7 of us trying it out and he took us to some really interesting places, varying from street food to "high end", to try lots of Brazilian food and drink. We loved it, and Tom the tour guide was a great guy.

    The tour ended in a samba club which was fun. We ended up being out for 8 hours, but time flew by!

    On our last morning we thought we would say bye to Rio from the sky, by trying our hand at hang gliding. Initially, the instructor cancelled due to the wind, but it picked up for us which was great. We were able to see all over Rio. It was great fun.

    Overall, we loved Rio, and definitely want to come back one day!
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  • Day65

    03/07/2017-04/07/17 The Iguazu Falls

    July 4, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    03/07/2017-04/07/17 The Iguazu Falls

    We got up at 3am to get an early morning flight to The Iguazu Falls. The Iguazu River is the border separating Argentina and Brazil and the falls fall on either side.

    We started by flying into the Argentinian side, where we spent the day walking around the falls. The falls are spectacular and have been voted as one of the 7 wonders of nature. You could see them from all angles and at some points get pretty close to them.

    The highlight was at the end when we took a train up to the top to view "The Devils Throat", an area where some of the largest falls meet. It got pretty wet! The amount of water was immense, and it really was an incredible view.

    The following day we crossed over the border into Brazil and viewed them from the other side. The Brazilian side gave a good panoramic view of the falls.

    That afternoon we visited a bird sanctuary. 50% of the birds had been rescued from trafficking and the remaining 50% had been born in the Avery.

    It was very impressive as they had huge averys that you could walk through and get close to the birds. The averys were different depending on the environment that the birds liked (e.g. Water, jungle, forrest) and were so large they could still fly around without feeling too enclosed.

    Most of the birds were local to South America, and so were brightly coloured and beautiful. The Macau Avery was the most impressive, with hundreds of beautifully coloured parrots flying overhead. They got pretty close at times and were incredibly loud. We also saw lots of toucans, which were really cool!

    We are now in our last country! We can't believe how quickly time has gone, but still have time to fit in some more adventures and are heading to Rio next.
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