Paraty and Trinidade
After a very enjoyable 27hour journey from Trancoso, with a crying baby and antsy toddler in front of us with their parents who decided it was neccesary to have their seats fully reclined from the minute they got on the bus until they got off, we made it to the beach town of Paraty. Paraty is about about 4-5hous southeast of Rio. We did actually get to stop in Rio briefly at bus station, which was exciting as we got a sneak peak at some of the floats, which i assumed were to be used in the up coming carnival……
We arrived at Paraty in the evening and tried to just check into a few hostels but they were all full. It was now we really started to realise that booking in advance is a must around Brazil especially carnival time. Eventually checked into a mosquito ridden room, which we got out of as fast as we could the next morning. No wonder there were vacancies. Paratys old town had proper cobble stones streets, made from small boulders, which you pretty much had to jump between. Was definately a recipe for a sprained ankle but luckily we survived.
While we here we did a really good day boat trip on a Schooner boat around some of the many small islands and beaches near by. Met a few really nice couples on the trip who we have continued to bump into alot and most likely will again. Did a spot of snorkelling, swimming, jumping off the boat (although it was against the rules and we were warned we would be fined for doing it again), and i even did a bit of salvage diving to recover Mark and Gemmas (English couple) snorkel and masks, which sank to the bottom when they threw them in the water. Oops.
That evening we met up with the boat trip people and probably had one of the most fun evenings we have had in a long time. Antonin and Sarah, a couple we met on boat, took us back to their hostel where the owner was having his birthday party. Originally we looked like a bunch of out of place gringos hanging around the fringes. But eventually after a few beers we were all in there with a drum, or shaker, or some sort of instrument and were playing away with everyone and singing songs, although we didnt know the words. We even got stuck into the nibbles and huge chocolate birthday cake. That was probably the highlight of Nats night. Super cool evening, and i have to say brazilians know how to make some great music and party.
From Paraty we spent a couple of nights in another near by beach town called Trinidade. Stayed in a really cool hostel in the bushjungle with neat little cabin type dorm rooms. Were some really cool walks to other beaches and a massive natural swimming pool on a rocky point. Hostel was really cool and met some more nice people. Nat even got a hair cut from one of the ladies working at the hostel.
Next stop we took a bus and then ferry out to the island of Ilha Grande. No long bus trip required. Phew…. Ilha Grande was super touristy and seemed to rain like clock work at 2pm most days. We were also without power for 1.5 days as they decided it was a good time to up grade the transformers, just before carnival when the island is probably at its busiest. Of course it was only meant to take 3-4hours but took slightly longer (2days)
While we were in Ilha Grande we spent a bit of time walking to some of the main beaches and doing a bit of snorkelling. Our biggest walk saw us cross the island and hike over 2 hours to Lopes Mendes beach. I think Nat had springs in her shoes, because she was flying along. Lopes Mendes is meant to be one of brazils best beaches. I was super excited because it was the first time the waves were decent enough for a good surf. I ended up hiring the shortest board on the beach, which was a 7ft gun normally used for surfing monster waves. However, i adapted and used it to surf much smaller 2-3ft waves. I was even treated to a group of dolphins cruising past me and a turtle popping up next to me. Who needs to go snorkelling aye?…….. And yes it started raining mid afternoon, so we decided to catch the boat back.
Once again spent alot of time relaxing on beach or in a hammock. Both of us starting to get a bit beached out now and are ready to see some new scenery. We did have a good night out with another couple, Dara and Lisa, where we were treated to some brilliant live music by a group of guitarists from Uruguay. They were so up tempo and played amazingly quickly. We even picked up their CD.
Next Stop……. RIO RIO RIO.
RIO DE JANEIRO!!
Spent the best part of a day travelling from Ilha Grande to Rio, but we made it there in one piece and we were even met at the bus station by our driver ready to take us to out hostel. After we checked into our million dollar hostel (we spent alot on it because of carnival) we pretty much got down to the bar and mixed it up with everyone and got to know some of the people we would be spending the next week with. For example, Paul is the awesome dude behind the bar that make wicked Caipirinhas.
The very next morning we got straight into things as there is so much to do and see in Rio as well as get involved with all the carnival block partys and parades. First thing we did was went hangliding. Was a real spur of the moment decision, but we were taken out to a near by beach. From here we were swarmed by crazy men all telling us `you are with me`. Eventually they all calmed down, and once we had paid a membership fee to become members of the hangliding club (money making scam), we drove up into a section of national park about 500m above sea level. We both did a tandem flight with a crazy instructor. Best part was running off the cliff at take off and landing on the beach. The actual gliding was quite peaceful. We made up for the peacefulness later on that night with our first Bloco (block party), in Lapa with a group from hostel. For those who dont know, during carnival they throw heaps of random street parties everyday all around Rio. They pretty much block off a street, play music from the top of a bus with massive speakers or sometimes people performing on a stage, and drink beers and dance and party. Some of the Blocos are during the day and some at night. Awesome idea.
We spent the next week doing a combination of all the touristy stuff and getting involved with carnival. We went to see the Botantical gardens, went to watch a Brazilian football match, went up Sugar Loaf mountain for sunset, went up to see the Christ Redeemer statue overlooking the city, did a trip into the favelas and spent some time on the famous Copocabana and Ipanema beach. Unfortunately we just missed out on getting to watch a big beach volleyball match at the statdium on Ipanema beach, but we did get a free volleyball singlet. Score.
By far the best thing we did of course was go to the Sambadrome to watch the actual carnival Parade. The parades start at 5pm and go through to 5am in the morning, and go for several days. We went to a sunday viewing, which was meant to be one of the best nights when all the biggest groups with the biggest floats and most amount of people and dancers show off their stuff. Have to say it was all absolutely amazing and so massively over the top. The sheer size of some of the floats were amazing, not to mention the amount of detail and crazy themes they come up with.
CARNIVAL = AWESOME.
We have had an absolute ball in Rio and have met some awesome people. We were even getting taught Salsa last night by Colombian dudes. Think we will be visiting them in Colombia for a night out in the Salsa clubs. And believe it or not we even went to a Beatles themed Bloco, where all they played was Beatles songs, but brazilian style.
Soo so people. Hope everyone made it to the end….. Ill buy you a beer if you did (not). We are departing Rio tomorrow for the Panatal to go and see some wildlife, crocodiles and hippos. We are both really looking forward to it.
Hope everyone is fine back home in NZ, England of any other country your from. Stay safe and look after yourselfs.
Peace Out, for now
Nick and Nat