"At the Copa, Copa cobana, music and fashion was always the passion at the Copa ... she fell in love ... Copa Cobana ... "
Well, 4 days into Rio and so much to say ...
Back to Friday, there were two highlights of the day. The first was doing a trek through an amazing forest to yet another spectacular lookout. Yes, Rio is a lot more than just beaches and parties! This forest is in the middle of the city but walking the trail, it felt like hours away as it was literally through the forest. We had our own private guide, thanks once again to Renato as it happened to be his next door neighbour. He didn't speak much English but boy was he funny!! Once again, we seemed to figure out most of what he was saying and viceversa. His best 'skill' was definitely his driving ability. Did you know that it was possible to drive at the same time as dialing and talking on your mobile at the same time as dancing in your seat to the radio at the same time as pointing places of interest out the window at the same time as gesturing what he was saying at the same time as narrowly missing the other cars on the road? Well it is and we are living proof. I said to Terry, he should become a bus driver. I don't think I mentioned the local bus ride we took on our first day to Christ the Redeemer ... we thought we were on a rollercoaster. We would have put our arms up above our heads around the corners if not for the fact that we werent strapped in!
When we got back into town we went to our first block party. Block parties are basically street parties where thousands of people go to dance and drink and party on the street. This goes on for the whole week of Carnivale and there are different ones all over Rio. Yesterday alone there were 150 of them and they were just the registered ones. Apparently a lot don't register because they don't want all the crowds. And crowds there is! The one we went to was just too crowded and too much, it was like being at the Rocks in Sydney on NYE x 1000. So we made our way back out and to a restaurant that Renato had recommended to us on our first night. This was the second highlight of the day.
To explain to you what and how much Terry consumed (and me to a certain extent) is beyond description! Terry of course ordered the traditional meal and all too late I remembered that Renato had advised us just to get one meal between us. Oops! So it comes out and there are about 5 dishes, two of which are in big bowls and this was just Terry's meal. There were things he ate that could have been in a Harry Potter spell! There was enough for at least 4 adults. Terry went in with his usual gusto but even he had to stop halfway through. He was doing this samba-like movement on his chair at one point, when I asked him what he was doing he said he was just trying to push the food down! This lead to our joint Pun of the Night - 'Its not over till the fat bear sinks'. Finally he sunk when I think even the waiters could not believe how little he left. Terry said it was the best meal he has had on his holidays which is a tough call over the steak we had in Bariloche to be sure. Somehow or other we climbed up to our hostel and Terry fell down on the bed like a beached whale and that is where he stayed for the rest of the night! All I can say is, he'd better not have a heart attack before we get home because I can't carry his pack!
So that was Friday. Yesterday (Sat) we met Renato and his lovely family and went together to the top of Sugarloaf mountain for...yes you guessed it..another amazing view of Rio. Then went back to his place and swum in the pool at the bottom of his apartment block before having a delicious lunch he made us.
Oh and I almost forgot .. Tezza is once again famous! He got on TV here can you believe it! There were reporters at the bottom of Sugarloaf Mountain who were asking tourists how they liked the experience up there etc etc and for some reason they picked Terry. Then this morning the lady who cooks the breakfast told us she saw him on the TV that night! Anyway Renato is going to send it to us. The shame of it was that for once, he wasn't wearing one of his 450ppm teeshirts!!
Then at night time we went to another block party, this time one that stretched the entire length of Ipanema Beach which was great because it meant that there was enough room for people to move. Renato told us they expected 100,000 at that one! Apparently at the biggest one they expected 2 million people to show up! Everyone dresses up at these parties so its pretty interesting to people-watch. The costumes range from simple wigs or sparkly hats or rabbit ears for example, all the way up to a full on body costume of anything and everything. I told Terry my costume was a Boring Australian Tourist and his costume was of a Climate Campaigner (yes, he had put his 450 teeshirt on by that stage).
This morning we met Renato and went bike riding with him for a couple of hours. There is this great system in Rio where for a small price you can get these bikes from bike racks located at various locations around the city, then you can put them back at any station when you are finished. They are really good bikes too, really easy to ride. So we did this amazing ride along all the beaches, it was fantastic. Had a refreshing coconut water drink at the end of it and then when Renato went back home we went to join a tour to the biggest Favela in Rio. This was great, it was run by an american girl who is now married to a Brazilian guy who grew up in a favela. It was excellent, great information and we got to go into some of the houses there, walked the streets, even happened to see a street party there which was a fluke.
And that brings me to the present where I must leave here because we are on our way back to our hostel to try and sleep for a couple of hours before our big night tonight - Carnivale!!
This city is fantastic! And, much as I hate to admit this, in all my years travelling I have to say that this is the only place I have been which has better beaches than ours!
Cheers for now,