A Travellerspoint blog


The lovely Colonial town

After Ilha grande we headed off to Paraty pronounced parachi by the locals. We could have done with a few more days at Ilha grande as the one full day beach trip was not enough to do the island justice.

Paraty is about 125 miles south of Rio, it is a very colonial looking little town.

We took a ferry to the bus stop and then a 2 hour bus ride along the lush green coast and ended up in Paraty about 2pm on the afternoon of the 28th Feb. Once again GAP had us in cosy accomodation located in the new part of town. You see the town has an historic area which has been there since the late 15 early 16th Century. It is a very endearing place with it´s cobble stone streets which doesn´t have access to vehicles, only horse drawn carriages.
Most of paraty´s appeal lies in the old part of town, with countless romantic little cafe´s, churches and an array of Cachaca liquor stores. The brazillian Sugar cane liquor is one of Paraty´s more famouse products. You would think you could get a cheap Caipirinha here but it is double the price of Rio, go figure.

After a much needed Nap I ventured to the towns beach alone as Harsh needed a few mor hours to rest offcourse, I was met with a fairly disappointing shore line compared to Lopez Mendez of ilha grande. However, there was character in the form of beach side bars with local music and water temperature of around 28 degrees in my approx. I even managed to sneak in a few reps at the dip and chin-up bar with a local young lad.

Both of us ventured out alone for dinner into the town centre, there was too much choice, we were lucky enough to be there for the towns birthday and were pleasantly surprised with a great fireworks display at about 9.30 pm. The town sqaure was full of locals who were obviouslt intoxicated on Cachaca, one street vendor was walking around with a normal home telephone as it was a mobile having an indepth converation with an imaginary friend, whilst another young lad was downing drink after drink screeming AIH!! AIH! AIH! AIH! to any one who would listen to him. Evry one was just loving life. We had a quick bite to eat where we shared a table with two Aussie blokes who were doing a world tour for a year, dinner was nothing to write home about except for the fact Harsh´s Pizza was about 8cm in diameter, well she should have known it did say mini pizza. Apart from that the most memorable moment was a palm tree branch falling 5 meters away from our dinner table and bi-secting two locals.

Luckily day two at paraty was much more Picturesque, we decided to decline the groups offer to take a bus to a beach 40 minutes away. Instead we opted for an Island hopping boat tour. This was a great decision. We visited 4 seperate islands within 5 hours, stopping off for about 45 mins in each. We had a simple seafood lunch on board, and were extremely cozy throught the day whilst we sailed the emerald waters aboard a comfortable scooner.
The two highlights of the tour was Harsh´s attempt at snorkling and meeting a young Brazillian family. Firstly lets talk about Harsh´s snorkling, C-O-M-E-D-Y! as George from seinfeld would say. Harsh was expecting to disembark the ship on a pier like we boarded. But the captain had other plans, at our first stop we had to jump into the water and simply explore the marine life. This was great for snorkling enthusiast like myself but for Harsh who struggles underwater in the bathtub it was somewhat dawnting. Credit to her she did take the plunge with a massive orange life jacket and did jump into 12 feet of water for the first time, she was feeling quite chuffed with herself until Luca and Amanda the 7 year old kids of the lovely brazillian family we met jumped over with no fuss whats so ever.
As mentioned the second highlight was meeting alexandria and her husband, they were convinced Harsh was Brazillian and the kids were fascinated at the fact we spoke English. I think that is one of the best things about travelling, you get to meet so many different people and learn about their from their own perspective.

After the tour we joined the group for dinner at a restaurent called Bohemia, there was hundreds of variations of Cachaca´s. The owner was a zany character who got pleasure out of serving us samples of cachaca from bizzare bottles that contained, Crabs, tarântula´s and snakes. You know us, we would never knock back a freebie so we tried them all. The food was great, I had to drag Harsh away from licking the bowl, as this was the closest dish that resemebled a curry since we got here.
We ended the night sampling icecream from a per kilo place. Thats right pay by the kilo for ice-cream. 200 grams set me back about 7 real.

Well we are just about to board a bus to san paulo enroute to iguazzu falls(24 hrs in total. I cant wait as I do love waterfalls and these are supposed to be sepectacular.

Sorry about the fact there are no pics, there is in issue with the PC here I will update the last 4 blogs with photos when i get to a proper PC.

Posted by HonestAnth 18:18 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Ilha grande

Ilha Grande and Lopez Mendes

After a mad favella tour we went back to our hotel to meet up with our new tour group. We were starting our tour from Rio to La Paz on the 26th. Our first stop was Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande is located along the Atlantic coast heading south of Rio. I didnt know anything about this island before this trip except it was prettylaid back and picturesque.

We left our hotel at 10 am and in a private coach and then a ferry to get to this island. At first didnt think too much of it. I think because we were on the pier it was loud and chaotic. It was a pretty hot day and the ferry ride had made me fall a bit sick. So all I wanted to do at that moment was to check into our hostel and relax. Our hostel called Pedacinho De Ceu was a pleasent surprise. Got a decent room with Air con THANK GOD ! It was a pretty cute place with a small strip of shops and restraunts around it. Didnt really do too much on the day other than relaxing.
Had an average dinner which took about close to 40 minutes to come out.

Anyway after an average dinner we made our way back to the hostel. Then Rani our tour leader told us about the choice of activities for the next day. Everyone agreed to go to on a hike for 2.5 hours to get to this beach called Lopes Mendes. This beach is known for its pure white sand and is one of the most popular beaches in Brasil.

So everyone is up and ready to rock to get to Lopes mendes. But I felt a bit sick I think it was because it was just too hot. Anyway I decided to can it and De Silva cracked it. But he did come to his senses and offered to stay back with me and leave later. So our group left at 10.30 am and I went back to sleep while Anthony updated the blog and pictures. Anyway he woke me up at 12 and I was feeling better . So we left for Lopes mendes. We decided to take a ferry instead of walking for for 2.5 hours. It was just way too hot to walk at that time.

We got to Lopes Mendes pier and from there we had to endure a short steep hike through the bushy path. We could hear the waves from a long a distance but due to the thick forest couldnt really see anything till we got there. Man we got there was it beautiful or what ! The sand was so white and soft like flour and made a funny noise when we walked on it. I was amazed at the clarity of the ocean. The beach had no jellyfish, no shell to cut your feet,no seaweed. It was so clean and white and blue, white cse of the clean sand and pale blue cse of the cleanest water.
The beach was so safe. At copa and Ipanema I was scared to be in the water, offcourse because it was cold but also the waves there were scary. But the water in lopes OMG was i think the best I have been in. It was perfect, pretty warmish, calm, clean.

The beach looked like the ones I have seen in Bollywood movies. It was the best we really didnt want to get out of the water. Anthony got a body board and made me glide on it. He knows I cant swim but still forced me and made me get on it. He pushed me on a biggish wave and watched me boady surf for a mili second and fall into the water and get panicky . Omg I nearly drowned and he was laughing. I think that was his revenge of me taking taking pictures of him spuing at Marcana.

We got back from Lopes Mendes and went out for Pizza. We had got used to it by now. The pizzas took about 45minutes to come out. After dinner Anthony wanted to have a crepe that he had seen at this place walking past in the evening. So we went to have dessert and ordered this place.I had realised one thing about this island that it was very laid back. I have never seen a slower crepe making man before this. Can you imagine waiting for 20 minutes for one banana choclate crepe, with all the ingredients being ready. He speaking in Portuguese with us even when he knew that we didnt know the language. Just trying to kill time. OMG ! it was funny in a way seeing this guy and how relaxed he was.
And after all this the crepe wasnt that good.

After the crepe we met up with our group. As we couldnt go out wwe decided to have some drinks in hostel. Anthony, Liz, Simon ran to the supermarket to get drinks. We played a wierd drinking game. Learnt to say ´´Your mum is á man´in Norwegian. Anthony and I taught the group a few dirty words in Sinhalese and Hindi. The night was great. We felt bad for Sarah who was trying to sleep in the next room and ended up reading the whole night. She didnt stop us thought which was very nice of her. After a couple of more wierd drinking games we had to call it a night as we had to leave the next day for Paraty.

All in all it was a great day and wish we get to visit more beaches like this.

Posted by Harshu 20:35 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

The Statue of Christ, the Redeemer

A true wonder of the world

So after the fiasco yesterday, Anthony and I decided on leaving early to get to Corcovado. We left the hotel just before 8.30 and got to the ticket window at 8.50. To our surprise there was not a single soul there to buy a ticket compared to the queque of 250 people. We were happy that our decision was right. So we got into the 9 am train and took us about 25 minutes. From the train terminal the statue can be reached by climbing 222 steps or escalators. We took the steps offcourse. I was so excited and looking for the statue while climbing the stairs but couldnt really see anything. So we were enjoying the view of the surroundings. When we reached may be 150 steps I just looked up and OH MY GOD there it was. I could see the back and one arm of the statue. We were in such an awe. It was magical. I think the only other time I remember having the same feeling was when I walked through the entrance gate of the TAJ MAHAL. Just grand and absolute magic. I had seen some great pictures of the Statue of The Christ in magazines and TV but they didnt do justice to the real thing. I couldnt believe that I was actually there, lookign up at the statue. I felt a wierd connection to Jesus. Felt so blessed. No wonder its one of new 7 wonders of the World.

To give a bit of info, the statue of Christo is located at the peak of Corcovado mountain, in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. The Redeemer statue stands almost 40 metres tall ie about 130 feet and it weighs 700 tons. The statue was designed by local engineer Heitor Da Silva Costa and sculpted by a French monument sculptor Paul Landowski.

After taking like hundreds of pictures and adoring the statue for about 2 hours we saw some other amazing views from the top of the mountain of the Rio De Janerio. From this vantage point I could see Maracana Stadium, The Sugar Loaf Mountain well as many of Rio's beaches, including the popular Guanabara Bay, Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach.

I must say visiting and feeling the awe, seeing the statue is and will be one of the most amazing experiences I would have in my life. Definitely one of the highlights of this trip. I am sure Anthony feels the same.

Now have to make our way back to the hotel to check of Ipanema Palace and check into the new hotel where we start our trip to Bolivia. NOt sure whats it´s called? Better check.
Going to a Favella trip at 4 pm. Oooohh !! A bit anxious about that. Watching City of God before leaving OZ has added into the anxiety.

Posted by Harshu 15:06 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Favela Tour

This aint Like Slum DOG

Well what an eventful day it has been, starting off with Christo as Harsh has already mentioned which was serene then switching gears in the afternoon to complete a guided tour of a real life favela.

After the Christo we quickly checked out of apartment, Luckily no one had questioned the fact we had two extra people in the place so we managed to save a bit there. It was a mixed emotions splitting away from Wes and SA and the two irish lads who had managed to get accomodation in a hostel, whilst we checked into our new home in copa,Hotel Bandeirantes. On one hand we were excited about our GAP adventure to come but also felt we were beginning to Jell with everyone at the apartment. But hey we had one last outing to go, The organised Favela tour that Wes had booked off the street for about 30 real cheaper than other tours. Most of us were sceptical, especially the Irish lads, Andy and Steve who prefered the safer proven tour operator. Too late now we were picked up at our seperate hotels at about 4pm by a professional van, which was a good start, only the Van had a Dengue fever fumigation business name printed on it. Marcus Our guide explained the owner of the company also did fumigation as a side business. There was a sense of excitement mixed with fear as we ascended into the hills of Rocinha the largest Favela in Rio which Marcus told us housed over 300,000 people. The Fear was mainly caused by the mass media which only produces stories of Drug related killings and brutal crimes and offcourse watching city of God just before we came did not help either. The excitement was caused by the fact on the Vans Radio they were just counting the votes of the Samaba Parade we had attened a few days ago. It was quite amazing Marcus this robustly build tall black guy was fixated on the radio like a teenage girl awaiting the verdict of Australian idol.

Our First stop enroute was at a typical tourist craft market at the apex of the Hill, most of us were thinking is this just another tour similar to most countries where you get roped into buying gems and marble and all sorts of crafts because the driver gets a commission. I was thinking what the F%ck is this where are the gangsta´s, why is no one mugging me yet, I want my moneys worth. The view however was amazing, you could see the Christo, the lagoon and the beaches of Rio in one swoop. Marcus explained that many westerners pay big money to rent Favela houses just for the view alone. Speaking of views we then went on foot to a persons house in Rocinha. This place was quite amazing, picture three stories,marble staircases, TV in all rooms and a rooftop with 360 degree views of Rio.
This guy had paid 40,000 real for this place and was rejecting offers that were far in excess of 50,000 EUROS. I don´t blame he either as he charged 2 bucks for every foreigner that stepped into the house. And aparently he had had 120 people visit that day alone. Not bad for a days work.

It was a great overview of the whole favela, You could see every little house from this rooftop and hear all the sounds too. Infact we were fortunate enough to hear an amazing ROAR by the people in the valley beneath us, it was louder than the roar I heard when freeman won the gold in Sydney. We all were bemused at what was happening, amongst the people, Marcus rush to the TV. I should have known, they had just announced the winner of the Carnaval Samba parade. Salgueiro had pipped Beija-Flor by a point to take it out. This was the crowning moment for us so far in the trip. It was great to hear the real fans at grassroots level appreciate the winner.

Getting back to the construction of the houses, in the favela or Slums as they would call them in Mumbai or Sqautter camps back in Capetown. They were quite upmarket in comparison. No wooden planks, and make shift materials as they have in India or South africa, the main similarity was they were houses banked up on each other to house an influx of people into the city and maintained for political benefits. Some of the differences was this Favela, had Mcdonalds, Banks and Visa at most merchants within it. This was not what I was expecting, so far it was a very sugar coated tour, where was the fear. Finally, Marcus´s side kick, a local guy with a slight limp like Keyser Söze took us down some underground routes, right into the heart of the people. This was more like it. Little hidden alleys that provided us a voyeuristic insite into the lives of the Rochina´s inhabitants. This part of the tour was amazing, whilst for most parts we could take photo´s there were times we were strictly told we should put the camera´s away. Marcus explained there were Drug lords present, which we half believed as the smiles of the people vanished walking through these streets.

The defining moment of this tour was when Shetty signalled quite loudlly to the rest of us "Look a guy with a gun". Not the best thing to yell out loud, But Hey it was true, this was not a small pistol. This guy with an agressive frown on him Brisikly crossed the road and walked towards us whilst handling an AK-47 beneath his Right arm. It happened so fast that we did not have time to shit ourselves. Yeeeahhh, this was like finally spotting that elusive Leopard in a game reserve. No one else on the street seemed to take notice, not the kids and nor the most stunning street workers I had ever seen. Marcus advised this was routine this guy was armed incase another Drug crew came into this territory.

With all this excitement we were now getting peckish, where was this Macca´s? No Marcus had better plans for us. A all you can eat buffet, right in the middle of the Favela. Salads,rice,Pichana,Sausages,Chicken all extremely tasty. Guess how much? No a bit lower than that. 7Real, thats right about $4aud. The best meal we had had in Brazil to date. I hope I will say this an hour later. Food was not the only thing cheap here, shopping was crazy aswell, Harsh saw Jeans Shorts for about $5, the only problem was getting in and out safely. We had the benefit of Marcus and Keyser.

Our Favela tour lasted for about 4hours-fully worth the 50real. I must say it capped off what was a great day. We are now stuffed and have a meeting for our tour which starts tommorrow taking us from Rio to Bolivia.

Photos will be uploaded when I get to a Working PC

Posted by HonestAnth 19:13 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Sugar loaf and the Almost Christo

The usual Tourist route

After coming back at 7 am and going to bed at 8 ish,we had no energy left. We had planned to go to the Sugarloaf mountain in the evening to enjoy the sunset from the top. As usual I struggled to get up and got up at 4pm. But it was not too bad. Got ready and tried to get out quickly. Anthony was having a chat with the other guys. By the time we got to the bus stop it looked like we will miss the sunset. We also didnt remember the correct bus no. to get us to the foot of this mountain. As I had researched online before, I suggested Anthony to catch a cab as it would have cost us not more than $15 Reals (under $10 AUD). But he wouldnt trust me that it was going to be only $15. After wasting about 15-20 minutes at the bus stop, we ended up taking a cab which cost us $ 14.70 Reals. THANK GOD !!

I ran up to the ticket queque to get the tickets. We finally got into the cable car to take us to the first hill called Morro da Urca. This is the shorter hill of the two hills which was 220m high. By the time we got to this hill, we had missed the sunset. Anthony wasnt happy ! But there was decent light so we managed to take a couple of pictures.We had heard about this party on this mountain, which we were contemplating going to and didnt end up going.After we got there we were a bit gutted as it would have been pretty amazing.There was a restraunt there as well where Anthony saw Picana (the beef on new year´s eve) burger. He decided not to have that as he thought there would be better options on the top, typical !

It had got pretty dark by this time. We jumped into the cable car and went up to Sugarloaf itself. This mountain is 396m high. The night view of Rio from the top of Sugar loaf was spectacular and truly breathtaking. We took some pictures but I dont think they will justice to the actual view.

On our way back we met Anthony´s friend Melanie which was quite random and cool. Had a chat with her and her friends and then made our way down. We took the bus to come to Ipanema. When we got back offcourse there was a block party happening. We stayed for a little while and called it a night as we were still tired from the Carnaval and Anthony needed to rest. And we were going to Christo the next day.

Next morning after a good sleep we decided to make our way to Christo, Retendor. We left the hotel at 11.30 am and took a bus to get to the foot of Corcovado mountain. We got there all excited which soon turned into anxt. Firstly I couldnt believe that there was only one ticket window for a such big tourist attraction. Secondly, there was a massive queque for atleast 200 people atleast to buy tickets to take the train up. It would have taken us a good 3 hours to take the train up. There was another option of taken a mini van up. But I was keen on taking the train and so was Anthony. Also, we didnt want so many people around, as we thought we couldnt enjoy the sights and views as much in such a crowd. It was good that both of us didnt have issues canning the whole thing and going back and relaxing on ipanema beach. So we made our way back to ipanema. We got to Ipanema, had lunch and made our way to the beach. We hired an umbrella and enjoyed the water and the view, sipping on our chilled coconut like a good Carioca (a local ).

Posted by Harshu 15:10 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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