The bus was meant to leave Puerto Iguazú in Argentina at 1pm but we didn't end up leaving until 2.5 hours later after being taken to their bus warehouse to wait. This was not good as we'd arrive in Rio later than we told the hostel who said they would only hold our 'booked' room for 2 hours from when we said!
Whilst we were waiting we met a girl from Newport who was also flying home after an 8 month trip which helped a little! She could speak a little Spanish and asked the bus company why we don't get meals on the bus we were about to take. He said it was due to Brazilian law not allowing it! Luckily we knew before hand so stocked up but crisps and biscuits for dinner, breakfast and lunch did not appeal! All she had was a boiled egg!!
The journey went well though and we slept really well. Somehow we arrived in Rio 2 hours earlier than the original arrival time! Not sure how but we were in the right place!
We got a taxi from the bus station and drove through what looked like, and we later found out, was a rough area. The closer we got to the beach, the nicer the area became. Our taxi ride cost £15 which was expensive and a sign of things to come!
We checked in to our hostel which was super expensive - £20 each to sleep in a bunk bed with 6 other people! Space is at a premium in Rio so that's the price! We got a good briefing of Rio from the hostel worker and then decided to hit Ipanema beach. The stereotype of thongs and bums was nowhere to be seen and instead there were men in little, very tight, white shorts! We worked out that we had sat in the gay area. Kris fell asleep while Emma was being nosey!
We carried on walking around the corner to hit the world famous Copacabana beach. It circled around for a few kilometres before ending at Sugarloaf mountain. Not a bad setting. There were people playing volleyball and football and were all taking it seriously as people were watching!
Rio was host to Rio+20, a United Nations conference which you have probably seen on the news. It meant the city had 50,000 visitors despite only having 30,000 hotel rooms which is why we booked ours months ago! We were hoping this would also mean something cool would be happening in the city but it seemed nothing was, no events, no concerts, just meetings!
We went back to the hostel just as it was getting dark. We have heard that Rio isn't that safe but there were so many people around it felt fine. In the evening we had a few drinks in the hostel before heading out for some food and then a drink afterwards. After we ordered our drinks we quickly realised we were in a gay bar. Women were kissing, men were dating and then there was us, the only heterosexual couple, sat right in the front!
We woke up pretty early the next day ready for our day of seeing the big attractions. We decided to do it ourselves so caught he bus to where Christ the Redeemer Statue is accessible. We were going to catch the train up but got sold on catching a minibus up instead. We were glad we did as it stopped at a really good viewpoint half way up before getting to the monument itself. The Christ looks tiny from below but it is quite large when you get up close. The views of the surrounding city were really good and we were really lucky with the weather as the forecast wasn't good for that day or next few. We headed down after about 40 minutes of photos and enjoying the view.
This was the 6th wonder of the world we have visited! The others we have visited are; The Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Chitzen Itza, Machu Picchu. The only one left is Petra in Jordan, not sure if that's on our radar! Also Angkor Wat isn't on that list when it should be! Anyway, enough boasting!
We then got a bus into town which would take us to Sugarloaf. We got straight on a cable car and then another to reach the top. There were great views of the city and beaches. We stayed there until sunset where we enjoyed a few beers and then started to make our way back to Ipanema.
The next day we tried to book handgliding. It would be an amazing view but unfortunately because of the stupid Rio+20 they had banned any sort of air activity which also included helicopter trip which we were also thinking about! The weather was nice so we instead went to a less gay area of the beach. It's officially winter in Rio now so it was only hot enough for the beach from 10-2 and got dark at 5.15. We bought a few pairs of Havaiana flip flops as they're cheaper here and then went to watch the England match.
That evening we had planned to go to a lively area called Lapa. Unfortunately the hostel worker told us not to bother as its only busy from Thursday to Saturday. This was the case with the rest of Rio as it was low season despite the extra 50,000 people!
It was overcast for our last day so we went to Lapa in the day time which wasn't upto much and then onto Santa Teressa which was ok but not quite what it was bigged up to be! The area had a few nice houses, shops and restaurants and cobbled streets but not worth the hour to get there! We traveled there and back by bus which was cheap and felt safe.
We wondered why every local in Rio used their mobile phone funny. They would talk and speak into the same end. We found out that they use them as walkie talkies. Not sure why or how but it must be cheaper or free to use.
That evening for our last meal we splashed out on a recommendation from the hostel. It was unlimited pasta and salad so we got that and by the time we got back the waiter had put 6/7 side order dishes on our table! Then the best part, different waiters come around with cooked meats and they just cut slices in front of you and then put it on your plate. This was as much as you wanted and we did just that. It was about £50 with drinks and that is quite cheap apparently! We went to a bar afterwards where we ordered 'chopp' - draft beer.
The next morning, our last morning, by the time we faffed about with our flight on the internet it was time to leave. We did manage to get a couple of beach pictures before we left but we didn't take our camera much around the city just incase.
We met some nice people at the hostel. The were mainly at the start of their trips so they were interested in our trip and asked lots of questions. 2 girls in particular were traveling for the first time. It was funny hearing what they had packed and things they hadn't thought about!
We caught the airport bus from the beach and made our way to the international airport. On our way we could see a huge area of what was a shanty town. Buildings everywhere and just badly stacked up on top of each other.
We flew to Recife which is still in Brazil, and spent the night there. We sat on the beach the next day before catching our flight to Frankfurt and then eventually London. It wasn't direct but was the cheapest way for us by a long way despite the journey consisting of 3 flights!
Rio was a nice last stop, it would have been great to go there over a weekend to get some of the famous nightlife though! The beaches were nice and didn't seem as dangerous as everyone made out. The favellas are close to the city but there are police everywhere, probably more than usual with the Rio+20 going on.
South America roundup
In the 2 months we've been in South America we have seen and done a lot. The major sites have been fantastic, although given the size of the continent they are few and far between! We needed to travel at least 4 hours and usually overnight to get to he next town! The buses have been a cheap and reliable way to travel around and the accommodation cheap and comfortable (apart from Argentina and Brazil!). The people have been nice although maybe a bit socially inept at times, especially Bolivia. The people we met in Argentina and Brazil were more friendly and social but they have cities similar to Europe where socialising is the norm! Barring the Argentinian steaks the food unfortunately hasn't been inspiring either with western food being popular or rice and meat as a cheaper option.
We've had a great time here durig the last 2 months but just not enough time, we could easily spend a year here! There's Chilli, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia all yet to explore and then all the things we missed in the countries that we visited. It was handy that they all spoke Spanish as we eventually got to grips with the essentials. Only Brazil speak Portuguese which had a few similarities with Spanish but not enough!
And finally if South America had a sound...its Reggaeton and its everywhere! Look it up as I'm sure it will be in the UK soon.
Wow! That's the end of our second 6 month trip! We have again had the time of our lives. The marriage survived the first year and we did all this without going into debt! We are lookig forward to seeing everyone but we weren't ready to come home this time. We would have loved to continue for another few months!
We can't recommend traveling highly enough, the places you see, the people you meet all make for a fantastic experience! If you are a first timer, we would say go to Asia as its safer and easier.
Is that the last trip for us? Who knows what the future holds....................................
We would like to thanks both sets of families for their help whilst we've been away dealing with things at home so our journey has run smoothly! And thank you for sending photos of the children to make us feel homesick!
And that's it! The end of the last blog! If you've read all 50 blogs, well done and we hope you've enjoyed reading them and viewing the photos as much as we've enjoyed writing them and taking them!
See you soon
Kris and Emma