A Travellerspoint blog

January 2013

My random thoughts so far, by Andrew Waugh aged 29

This is my first posting on our blog and I thought I would write about a few random things.

Things break

When I was researching what to pack a few people had said duct tape. I thought this was a little odd but decided to bring some just in case and I am glad I did. When we changed buses to get to Paraty I has handed my bag with one of the waist straps almost fully ripped off. It went in fine but came out a right mess. I had read that although backpacks are great the straps can get caught on stuff, I think I was a victim of this. A tube of superglue (bought in Rio for another reason, I will come onto this) and a fair bit of duct tape later, I now have a functioning bag again. How long this will last for, I don't know, as there seems to be a few other places ripping that I don't think are duct tape-able.

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Stacey sandals broke on her first wear, Stacey thinks I stood on the back of them, I don't think I did but with my poor spacial awareness and general clumsiness it's a high possibility that I am to blame. I bought some superglue to fix them and was really chuffed with the result until stacey tried them on and I had glued the fastener to the base and not correct bit. Oops! Some hacking with a knife later this was sorted and they're as good as new...if you don't look to close.

Things I have noticed so far:

Brazilians love to pose for photos. For me, a picture in front of something is arms by my side, look straight forward and smile. If I am feeling extravagant, I will put a foot up on to a low wall - this is a move my Dad mastered over the years. Here there is pouting, hair flicking, full on poses, it wouldn't shock me if someone busted out a vogue.

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Italian food is popular. Every other restaurant seems to be an Italian. Mainly pizza places but there is a fair few doing pasta. Tempted to move here and open an Indian, think it would do well.

There is a perk to not speaking Portuguese, chuggers don't even approach you. I walked past 6 UNICEF chuggers and not even one of them tried to stop me, I obviously look very foreign.

Posted by andrewwaugh 15:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Rio to Paraty - Day 4

Rain...

25 °C

Luckily we were packed and ready to go when the transfer bus picked us up 45 minutes early! The driver put on some classic 80s and popular 90s music videos; 4 Non Blondes, Carly Simon, Natalie Imbruglia, Britney Spears - Andrew was in his element. Off we went to pick up the other passengers and at one hostel on an extremely steep hill, the driver put on his handbrake and shouted 'no bouncing, no problem'!

It took an hour to pick the other 9 travellers up so we set off in earnest around 12 noon. The driver put on a movie for us - Hangover 2! - it's almost like he knew I was onboard ;) Apart from the low volume on it, it passed the time pretty quickly and not long after it finished we arrived at our first stop - Mangaratiba. This is where some people were getting the ferry to Ilha Grande and we had to get off and change minibuses. This was also where Andrew discovered the waist strap on his backpack had almost been torn completely off! I will let him tell you this story in another blog, but needless to say I wasn't able to get any pictures during the melee.

Off on another bus with two English women, one a midwife in London, an American couple and six Australians, four of whom couldn't remember the name of their hostel, the rain began to pour down. It was biblical (leading me and Andrew to whisper "In the biblical sense..." from Talledega Nights every few minutes since!), I'm sure the driver could barely see a thing, and rain was running in waterfalls down the hills into the road. Good job they seem to have great drainage!
Our view for half the journey!:
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After a seven hour journey we arrived at our next hostel, Adventure Hostel, which was much more bohemian than the previous place! The building looked tiny from the outside, painted orange, and inside, through a gate and tiny alley way, there was no real reception so we made our way in.
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This was our first night with a shared bathroom and I knew as soon as I saw it I wouldn't be showering in it...I imagine my tolerance for dirt will get better as time goes on. The room was fine on first glance but there was no AC only a fan, we found the window was broken and covered with cardboard, no curtains, the plug sockets didn't work and although clean the sheets had some marks :( Not ideal but it was only for one night...
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So we unpacked and headed out for dinner and drinks...in the rain. Sheltering under our umbrellas we tried to find a budget place to eat, but in the end we were soaked and just jumped in a reasonable looking restaurant called Caramujo. We decided on bife grehaldo, arroz, feijoa e fritas - steak, rice, beans (not the baked variety!) and fries to you and me - as weren't sure what some of the dishes were. The party across from us had a stuffed chicken dish with what looked like tomato rice - we wished we'd had that! But ours was tasty and after a couple of beers (all of which cost £23) we headed back, discussing how we need to eat less expensively and stop drinking, as that was £6 of it...unless, of course, beer is cheaper than water or juice then it would be rude not to surely?!

Posted by staceywaugh 13:07 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Rio de Janeiro - Day 3

Lazy day and Lapa street party

34 °C

I forgot to mention that on the evening of Day 1 we saw a dead, headless, fully feathered chicken in a bowl on the pavement near our hostel. No one around, no houses close...odd?!

Anyway! This morning we had breakfast while uploading our photos to Google drive, looking at bus routes and booking hostels for the rest of trip in Brazil and for our first night in Argentina. A relaxing morning, and I think we started to feel more like 'travellers' as we could help the new English people out with simple thing like buses, taxis and where the nearest cashpoint was. We had lunch at the hostel to save money, Andrew made noodles in the "death trap" kitchen - slight exaggeration, I think he just had a problem lighting the hob!

We decided to spend the afternoon at the beach so off we went to the Metro, asked for two tickets to Ipanema and Andrew opens his empty wallet! Oops. Back to the hostel and luckily it was not lost, just in his other shorts. Back at the Metro we buy tickets, easily get through the barrier, now we knew how, and got on the train. We were feeling quite cocky until we got the next stop and realised we'd gone the wrong way!

When we finally got to the beach and it was unbelievably hot - we hadn't checked the temperature all day but as we were leaving the beach at 6pm it was still 34 degrees. Hiding under an umbrella (from a seller who told us it cost five reais, then later tried to charge us ten - NO! *puts a strong palm out in front of body in a 'fuengirola lift situation' fashion*!), Andrew made friends with a Brazilian man called Rafael, who we talked to for about 2 hours non-stop - in English of course! He wanted to learn from us and he taught us some Portuguese words that I probably can no longer remember and introduced us to his friends Jacquelina and Alex. So far everyone had been so nice to us and made it really easy for us to talk to people and understand everything.

There was a free concert in Lapa that evening with samba music so we thought it would be fun to head there. First we needed a cheap tea (dinner for our southern readers!), so we found a pizza place - there seems to be so many Brazil so far? - and for only £7 we got one big enough to share one. The waiter had no English and I had no Portuguese but together we got there! By pointing and saying Portuguese words I thought were vaguely right :) After the last couple of days, and I know we've said this before, but we do really want to learn another language.

We jumped in a taxi to Lapa as we were told this was the safest route and not very expensive at all. There were taxis, buses and people everywhere. Walking round to where the stage was, we were over 200 metres away from it when we hit a wall of people. It was 11.30pm, still 30 degrees and we were surrounded by tens of thousands of people having a street party. The sellers and stalls were running out of beer and water, the heat from the barbecues was stifling and we could barely hear the music. And I definitely couldn't see what was happening of the stage! People were buying drinks from the shop and ice from sellers, then carrying them in the bag of ice to keep their drinks cool - if we could have got through the crowds to the shop, we would have done that too.

With all that said though, it was a crazy experience and again, definitely worth going to see what it was all about. Andrew said it was like the Morecambe Light and Water show back in the day!! Obviously a lot smaller(!), but the idea is the same, and I can imagine if you were there with a big group of friends you could have stayed all night talking, drinking and dancing...

P.s. sorry for the lack of photos in this blog, we were lazy in the day and didn't want to take it to Lapa for safety!

Posted by staceywaugh 04:43 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Rio de Janeiro - Day 2, Part 2

Lapa Steps, Cathedral San Sebastián and Sugarloaf Mountain - with Karl Pilkington!

32 °C

After Santa Teresa we went to see the Lapa steps. An artist named Jorge Selaron began renovating the steps in 1990 using tiles. It cost him a lot of money to keep up so people from all around the world brought tiles for him to use on the steps. The tour guide said worldwide knowledge of the steps came about as the artist was featured on a BBC documentary in 1992 - well done Britain :)
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Sadly, Selaron had died just 14 days before we visited, being found on the steps themselves. Here is a tile showing him on his art work:
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Not only are there tiles depicting cities and countries across the world, there are also tiles of musicians, cartoon characters, artwork, animals, actors...it's modern, interesting, unique to anything I have seen before and kind of beautiful in a bold way! Andrew was less impressed by it, "If that was a bathroom, by square footage, that shouldn't have taken him 10 years"!!

The Simpsons and Speedy Gonzales (right at the bottom):
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Michael Jackson, Guns & Roses, Iron Maiden and Bob Marley:
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Favela artwork:
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Ireland, Africa and India:
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Here's a picture from the steps for my cousin and her family - the Archers!
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And here is London, next to our very own Princess Diana:
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Me and Andrew in the steps:
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Next up was the Cathedral San Sebastián, an odd, dull looking building from the outside but inside were the most incredible stained glass windows.

Outside and in the reflection of the building:
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Inside:
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Some stained glass close ups:
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The size of the church from the inside was shocking too - 20,000 Catholics go to mass there and I can only imagine what that must be like to attend. I'm not religious, but it must be an impressive service to be part of. Andrew, now reminding me of a well travelled Mancunian named Karl Pilkington, only remarked "it's like most Catholic churches, new and ugly". But take it from me, it was imposing and stunning.

The final stop on the tour was Sugarloaf mountain, where the only way up is two cable car rides dangling almost 400 metres above the sea. This was the part I was least looking forward to, because I'm not the biggest fan of heights. Well, it's more a mixture of heights and safety really as I'm fine on planes, but I don't like 'the gods' in the theatre (something about tripping and falling down over the balcony!). I don't like stairs with holes in the back, but I can stand on a 700ft mountain and look out (i.e Christ the Redeemer) - as long as my feet have been firmly on ground!

Anyway, I was going to do it, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity after all - I may never visit Rio or even Brazil again. But I was scared; slight leg tremble, sick feeling in my stomach, and as I looked from the boarding point up to the first stop I didn't think I could do it.
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But then a lovely couple called Gerry and Lisa from Dublin were standing in the queue with us and Lisa talked to me the whole way up, which really helped. I stood in the middle of the carriage and looked down, my face in my hat, but it was a smooth two minute journey to the first mountain top and I had a peak out to the awesome views. That wasn't bad at all. The second journey was 1 minute longer and equally, probably 50% more terrifying! The cable car was above only water and without buildings and mountains either side to shelter it a little, was more susceptible to the wind! I still managed to look up from the floor a few times so it can't been too bad. Having said that, stepping out on to the platform I was both relieved, to have my feet on the ground, and scared, seeing the drop below me through the gap and knowing I'd have to do it all over again on the way down!

The views from on top of Sugarloaf were dramatic and breathtaking. You could see out across Rio, with the beaches, mountains, forests, buildings of all kinds and of course Christ the Redeemer. Watching out over the city you could see birds flying at the same level as us, planes taking off and even turning down the side of Sugarloaf to land, helicopters doing tours, and huge ships delivering cargo to who knows where. It was well worth the ride up, even though the enormous drops made my legs shake a little!
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Me and Andrew n Sugarloaf Mountain:
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And the tour was over. I think that after today I'm going to need some new words from incredible, breathtaking, beautiful, amazing...entries on a comment please ;)

Hot, tired but energised, we went out that evening, found Bar do Adao and had pastels - we had five savoury including prawn, crab, beef, cheese and vegetable and two sweet, chocolate and banana and chocolate and condensed cream - so tasty! We didn't take our camera that night so here is a link to what they look like: http://www.foodspotting.com/places/441059-bar-do-adão-rio-de-janeiro

We sat on chairs and at a table of sorts (a box) to eat them, with a couple of beers. We met a Brazilian man there, who helped us order from the portuguese menu, which has helped a lot since (I now know the words for cheese, chicken, beef, prawns and crab, which always helps when ordering food!). He was from São Paulo and his English was amazing - we talked for an hour about Brazil, England, allotments and vegetable patches on reinforced roofs, water irrigation systems - Andrew obviously led this conversation! With his ability to speak so easily in our language, we definitely felt embarrassed about our lack of a second language. After a long day, we headed back to the hostel.

Posted by staceywaugh 04:30 Archived in Brazil Comments (3)

Rio de Janeiro - Day 2 Part 1

Christ the Redeemer & Santa Teresa

32 °C

You'll be pleased to know that the cheese and ham toasties went well this morning! No fruit though as we got up a little later, so another trip to the supermarket for fruit, water and nutella - the kitchen in the hostel is not very good so we thought a quick sandwich and some fruit would be better. Oh and we bought superglue to try and fix my flip flops!

Here's a picture for Lee Holmes and Michael Parker. Andrew's decision to bring a washing line wasn't so stupid after all!! Who knew?!
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And a quick, cheap lunch in the hostel - reminds me of our Cyprus days!
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Today we went on a city tour, which covered Christ the Redeemer, a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain, Lapa Steps, Santa Teresa and the Cathedral San Sebastian, and it was incredible! The tour was with www.bealocal.com and our tour guide, Gustavo, was fantastic, speaking three languages throughout the tour and helping us with places to go and food to eat for the rest of our stay. On the bus already were two couples - one from Ireland and the other from Mauritius - and soon three Argentinian guys, one Brazilian man, one Canadian guy, two Danish girls and a German girl joined us.

We started with Christ the Redeemer, something we had both always wanted to see. The statue stands 99ft (3 metres) tall on top of the 700 metre Corcovado mountain, in the Tijuca Forest National Park. The bus journey up there went well, winding up the mountain as you can imagine but I felt so much safer than, say, at the monsoon palace in India - these were real roads at least! The guide told us that sometimes there's an hour and a half wait for the bus up to the top, so we might prefer to walk as it only takes 30 minutes, but luckily the queue was 'small' so we took the bus. It was a shame not to take the train, as it looked fun, but apparently this is much more expensive and takes longer.
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It was around 220 steps up to Christ and the first glimpses up close were impressive. As with most of these monuments, it had souvenir shops, snack bars and restaurants along the way. It was also packed - there is such a small area around Christ that getting a picture without someone's head, arm or body in the way was quite a feat!
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However, none of this took away from looking up at Christ the Redeemer so closely and out over Rio from so high up - it was amazing.
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It's unbelievable to think this was designed, sculpted and constructed over 90 years ago.

On to Santa Teresa, a neighbourhood that was created in the mountain side in the 18th century to house the rich people of Rio when yellow fever broke out in city (this knowledge is according to Gustavo by the way, so I hope it's right!). Here is a picture of the 'pleasure' favelas, so called because there used to strip clubs at the top!
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The area is famous for it trams but after an accident in 2011 that killed six people they have been stopped, which was really sad to see. There was even a team 'graveyard' in the hill.
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The people of Santa Teresa are campaigning to have the trams back in service, and this is piece of street art showing the actual driver of the tragic tram and a woman with a sign saying bring back our trams (not a literal translation!).
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Art can be seen all over in Santa Teresa - here are some photos I took. This is the work of an artist called Pedro Grapiuna who creates sculptures with recycled iron:
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'Alive!' on the hillside, under the houses:
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And here's one for Jodie Mace, formerly Jodie Ellis AKA Tupac - Tupac Shakur on the side of the wall with Charlie Chaplin!:
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The streets around Santa Teresa are pretty steep but the drivers do this 6 times a week, so you never feel unsafe.
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Posted by staceywaugh 04:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

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