After what seems to be forever, today was the day I finally went travelling around the world! It felt pretty surreal packing up all my stuff and heading for the airport after all these months of waiting, but I was so excited. I met Annabel at the airport, I said my goodbyes and we headed off.
Our flight to Rio included a stop over in Frankfurt, so in total we were travelling about 17 hours. Not fun. The airline also gave me a near heart attack when they called me up to the front desk before our flight – of course I thought the worst, that I wouldn’t be able to fly for some reason, however they simply didn’t have my passport details!
However I did get rather lucky in my seat to Rio as my TV had access to the “premium” movies which I would have had to pay for otherwise, and the ordinary movie selection was awful. But we were finally on our way.
We arrived in Rio airport at 05:10 in the morning after a very long flight with very little sleep. However, we were greeted by Dom and Alicia at the airport who had even made us little signs with our names on, how cute.
Luckily we were being picked up by one of my Dad’s friends from the airport so we didn’t have to faff around with a taxi, although we did have 8 hours to kill before we could check into our apartment. The longest 8 hours of my life. We ended up wasting time in a cafe and being driven around the city. When we could finally check in it was such a relief, and we spent the next few hours playing cards trying to keep ourselves awake until a reasonable hour.
After a well deserved rest we had a busy day ahead. As Dom was only staying until Monday, he wanted to get in as much of the tourist stuff as possible, so today we were planning on heading up Sugarloaf mountain.
We started by walking to the bottom of the mountain, which sounds easier than it actually was. We ended up going this crazy route around a mountain, where we were instructed by Dom to “release our inner goat.” I was probably the least sure footed of the group.
We eventually got to the bottom of the mountain and while walking round we saw loads of cool wildlife, some really bright red birds and loads of marmosets.
Again, instead of following the official route we went a bit off piste, and we were joined by a crazy old Brazilian lady who was attempting to climb in converse and a handbag. Even if we weren’t on the right path, we had some pretty great views.
But after finally being defeated by overgrown paths we decided to go back and take the official path up to the top of the lower mountain. It wasn’t too bad except the stairs seemed to go on forever. The view from even the lower peak was really nice, and we managed to get a group photo.
To get to the very top you had to take the cable car, as you can see in the above picture. Again, incredible views. And there were even marmosets at the top.
There was also a board where you could sign your names at the top. The main bit was absolutely covered in signatures, so Dom put Alicia on his shoulders so we could get a prime spot.
By the time we had got to the bottom again, our plans of maybe popping to the beach afterwards were gone as the trek had taken us 7 whole hours. But it was definitely worth it.
Today was Dom’s last day, so before he went we had to hike up to Christ the Redeemer. We hopped in a taxi to the park beneath, which was beautiful itself, and headed off on the trail to the top.
We were told we would pass 3 waterfalls, go through a zig-zag, a steep bit, a part where you had rope to help yourself up, and then finally we would reach the top. The walk itself wasn’t too bad at the start, all through the waterfalls we kept a pretty good pace.
And then we hit the steep bit. And they weren’t lying when they said steep. I don’t think anyone struggled as much as me, but eventually we made it to the top. Before we even went into the part where you could see the front of Christ the Redeemer, we treated ourselves to some gold olympic themed Coca-Cola.
The area in front of Christ the Redeemer was absolutely PACKED with tourists. You barely could move without bumping into someone or getting in the way of someones picture. However, we did manage to snap a few of our own.
When we got back down to the bottom, we had taken significantly less time than the hike yesterday, so went for a walk down the beach. As it was Dom’s last night, Alicia cooked us all fajitas, and we went down to the beach for some Caipirinha’s to say a final farewell.
After two hard days of trekking we decided to have a more chilled out day today. As the weather was still nice we decided to grab some bread, ham and cheese, and head down to the beach for the day. We spent the entire day playing cards and attempting to top up our tans. Alicia got third degree burns. (Sorry no pictures!)
We also decided to go out for dinner in the evening as we hadn’t done since we had been there. At dinner a magician approached our table and did some cool card tricks with us. Some of them you could work out how he might have done them, but others were really amazing. We also met a Brazilian guy and Russian girl who gave us some great tips on hikes, and different places to visit it. They also told us that they were having a “really cold” winter – which we replied that we had spent the entire day on the beach!
Today we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens as it was one of the top things to do on Trip Advisor and in the guidebook. It has over 5000 species of plant, with everything ranging from Cactus to Roses.
This particular tree is the Pau-Brasil Tree, the national tree of Brazil, which can reach a height of 30m. There were loads of amazing plants there including a cactus which looked like the legs of a tarantula.
Yuck. Here are a few snaps of some of the best ones.
I even tried to get an arty shot of some palm trees to show off my camera skills.
And a final one of me and Annabel…
After the Botanical Gardens we headed back to the apartment for some dinner before heading out into Lapa, which we had been recommended for having some good bars. We went to one which had Samba music and cocktails. One couple in the bar actually started doing some Samba dancing which was really cool, if only I could dance!
Alicia was also planning on heading off to other parts of Brazil the following morning, before rejoining us in Rio before the Olympics, so it was a nice evening to say farewell for now.
Most of this morning was spent making some plans about where we wanted to go after we left Rio, and plotting a vague timeline of when we would be where. Once this was done we headed out, as we wanted to have a look around a few of the Olympic venues. We had a metro map, and transport between the venues so we thought we’d be able to get through a few today. Well, we were wrong. The transport around Rio is so complicated and it took us ages to get to the first place – Porto Maravilha. However, when we did get there, the area was really nice and had obviously been recently redeveloped.
After leaving Porto Maravilha we tried to head towards Barra, which is the area in which most of the games will be held, including swimming and cycling. However, getting there ended up taking longer than we would have liked, and we were running out of daylight as it gets dark so early. In the end we headed to Ipanema beach to watch the sunset.
Unfortunately I only had my phone with me to take pictures, so not the best quality 😦 but the views were amazing.