for the end of the trip of a lifetime
12.07.2008 - 18.07.2008 31 °C
After a long overnight flight from Natal we landed in Rio just as the sun was rising over the city. We had a lovely sense of familairy as we drove along the ringroad towards Copacabana. It was also sad as we knew this would be the last place we stayed prior to heading home, it had been almost 6 months since we had last visited Rio, 6 months since we started our adventure.
The room wouldn't be ready for a few hours so we had a sneaky plan that if we hung out in reception making it look untidy they would give us a room early so we could get some much needed sleep. It didn't quite work, so we sprawled out on the sofas, slept and generally brought down the tone of the whole hotel – who cares? I think I was snoring as people were walking by to go to breakfast.
We were finally put up on the 14th floor and had an amazing view of Cocovado and Christ the Redeemer. I was so happy, guess what greeted me in the bathroom – complimentary toiliteries, now you know you're in a proper hotel when you get freebies!! We also had a minibar, couldn't afford to drink anything from it but we had one!!
After a good few hours sleep we headed out into Copacobana, passing a few shops on the way, looking at the amazing Havaianas. I had forgotten how much I loved Rio – the general buzz of the place is amazing and I can sit for hours at the beach side bars and people-watch. I love the nonchalant attitude in Rio to body shapes – who cares if you're 70 and a little overweight –wear that thong proudly!!! Ollie dosen't think its quite such a good thing, he tells me there are certain things in life you just don’t wanna see.
We found a little kilo restaurant and had some great food and wine before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our night out. It was Saturday, I’d not had a chance to dress up in ages, I was going to Lapa!! It is the place to party in Rio at the weekend, lots of small street bars sell the most potent cocktails and after only 2 of the caprihinas we were ready to boogie. I wanted to go to Scenarium, a famous salsa club with 3 floors. It took us a while to find it as it's actually a 15min walk out of Lapa but worth the hike. It's staged with almost a 1940's theme, lots of deep red velvet and old posters, a live band played samba downstairs as people of all ages danced salsa. What I couldn't understand was their payment policy, you don’t pay to enter, you get a card with your name on it. Everytime you buy a drink its marked on the card- then at the end of the night you give them the card and pay to leave. So in theory, you can get in, dance and drink loads all without paying a penny. No wonder the queue was huge to leave at the end of the night – now, where did I put my wallet...?
The next morning we knew we'd been drinking caprihinas and both looked the worse for wear at breakfast gorging on the included greasy bacon and eggs. That afternoon we felt able to make a move out of bed and wandered to the market. I think we were both getting desparate about buying presents as the tacky plastic Christ the redeemer statue was looking more and more enticing. That, or we were still drunk. A local Rio team, Fluminense, were playing Botafogo, another local team that night and we sat in a greek café eating hummous and watching the game with the locals.
The next day we hit Copacabana beach. I did some shopping (I love beach sellers) and Ollie moaned that there wasn't any waves and left me after an hour to go and play on the computer. Feeling tanned up by teatime we went to go and meet friends that we'd left a few weeks ago in Venezuela. Mikkel and Katrina soon learnt our love for kilo restaurants we went to yet another of the glorious cheap food haunts. We sat outside a bar afterwards drinking wine and for hours. The barman couldn't quite work out how to open wine bottles and they kept trying to feed us 'specials of the house' shrimp pastrys. I practiced my 'mm, this is nice' face while trying to wash down the fishy puree with cheap wine. If that's the speciliaty of the house, I'd hate to see what the cheap food was like.
Ollie had another date with his electronic mistress the next day so I went and lounged by the rooftop pool. Had the whole place practically to myself the whole day, may have been something to do with the fact the pool was cold enough to cause hypothermia but it was relaxing. I could see Cocovado from my sunlounger and if I leaned my head slightly right the rooftop of the posh hotel on the next block, did you know it looks like pink is THE colour to be wearing in Rio?!
Our last day in Rio we wanted something to end the trip of a lifetime so after a quick shopping expedition to Ipanema we were picked up to go handgliding. A couple of beaches south of Copacobana we sarted the climb up the side of a moutain through a national park. Katrina and Mikkel also joined us, although Mikkel, the big wuss, 'just wanted to watch'. Up at the top the lead guy gave us instructions, just keep running, even when you get to the edge and make sure you smile for the camera. I was up first, strapped my flip flops onto my feet, got into an attractive nappy sack and pegged it like there was no tomorrow off the edge of the mountain. It feels great when you first jump off, so relaxing and free. Actually quite a lot different from paragliding which is more tranquil, you actually get the sense of speed with handgliding. I loved flying over the top of all the large villas and sneaking peeks into their back gardens, you could also see Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance. As you come into land (we were landing on the beach) you feel like you're going so fast you're going to eat sand, but he just quickly whips the handglider more vertical and it loses speed and height and just gently sets you down on the ground. I don't think any of us found it scary, just exciting and relaxing and worthwhile doing.
That night, the very last night of our South American adventure, we headed out into Ipanema. We had cocktails in a really great little restaurant with quaint chintzy décor then headed to an R&B club. Many cocktails later, many bad photos later and little memory of later we had partied hard and it was time to call it a night/day.
We watched sunrise over Rio from the rooftop pool (Ollie got sentimental – bless him) then headed to bed for a couple of hours prior to grabbing a cab to the airport. We made it through check-in with our ridiculous amount of bags, luckily without being charged excess (I have no idea where it accumulated - I didn’t shop that much) and fell fast asleep on the plane. The big smiling faces of our parents greeted us at Heathrow and by the time we hit the M25 congestion it felt almost as if we’d never been away. Although the seatbelt kept rubbing my shoulder (not used to wearing them), the driver was sat on the wrong side of the car, the petrol was expensive, the road seemed remarkably smooth and pothole free, it was raining and cold, I read adverts and they were in English, we could understand every word in the conversation...
Thanks Ollie for truly making it a trip of a lifetime and helping me to be more optimistic (I chose my words carefully). You know we said – ‘it’s a once in a lifetime experience’ – well,where are we going next?... (Trekking excursions and white water rafting excluded)
Monday mornings still suck, and its freezing here, and OK! Magazine isn’t what it used to be, but the difference now though is instead of dreaming about being away, I remember being away.
Me encanta América del Sur