24 May Olá to Brazil
1. Carnival – ultimate reason for Salvador is the famous carnival. Tagged as ‘The biggest street party in the world’, I would definitely agree! A few years ago I went to Rio carnival and as awesome as it was, for a more local vibe and to feel part of the parade, Salvador is the one! The main parade street filled with ridiculous numbers of people, Camarotes (aka. Huge stands/purpose built clubs) along the whole way, people dancing away following the floats. We paid to get into two nights of the ropes surrounding the floats, one being Bob Sinclair and another being some random local act. The other nights we just followed the best sounding parade.
2. Hostel – Staying an art hostel, Open House Barra was the best decision. They had organised a week to ten days of fun filled activities, free awesome Caiprinhas and dance classes. Alex the host is so accommodating and one of the best hosts for a Hostel. Without him, we wouldn’t have had such an awesome carnival experience.
a) Samba class – First on the agenda was a Samba class, so that we could learn some moves for our nights out. Hosted by Jacqueline, Alex’s wife. She was an incredible samba dancer and taught us some moves.
b) Capoeira show – Alex had organised for a group of Capoeira artists to come and show us a demonstration. Capoeira is the famous brazilian style martial arts/dancing. We even got to get involved and bust some moves with these guys.
c) Casino night – Roulette! Sure, I’m in! After my good playing skills of stacking up the chips, I decided to go all in, red or black. Note to self, quit whilst you’re ahead!
d) Cocktail making night – all of us, roughly 25, were given 2 minutes to come up with whatever cocktail we wanted. Not to many mixers available in the eyes of brasilians, just some fruits to add into a alcohol fuelled drink. I thought my drink was pretty good, but others were didn’t agree! I’ll put my glasses away, as I doubt I’ll be a good barman after that session.
e) Caiprinhas – no visit to brasil could be complete without Caiprinhas!! Alex the host made one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
3. Beach – Salvador has many beaches, but the main one’s where all the action is was just off the main parade street. Pure blue ocean, sun shining and lovely sand.
4.Delicioso Acaí Dessert – A special berry which is famous in brasil. A special dessert in which they mix this in ice and add fruits or granola on top.
5. Moqueca de Camarón – A famous dish for Salvador. Fresh Shrimps cooked in a delicious sauce. One for sea-food lovers, it’s outstandingly tasty.
6. Birthday – I celebrated my birthday in Salvador. A morning wake up to a lovely breakfast and Nishma had bought me some birthday cake. A short walk to the beach to sip on some Birthday Caiprinhas and then an evening meal of my favourite Steak! Accompanied by some new found Chilean and Argentinian friends.
Rio de Janeiro
1. Sugarloaf Mountain – A mountain at the end of Copacabana beach with Beautiful views and sunset over the city of Rio.
2. Copacabana beach – The most famous beach in the world. White sand, which spreads a long distance with sun umbrellas dotted along the whole way. Football volleyball nets set up along the way, floodlit at night.
3. Christ of redeemer – The statue of Christ, which looks over the entire city or Rio and can be spotted for most locations. A national symbol for Rio. However, a long and busy ride up to see it I will add.
4. Fort and brunch – Inbetween Copacabana beach and Ipanema beach, there is a fort you can walk around and an excellent place to have brunch. I guess brunch is a new thing to me, definitely Nishma’s influence to go for coffee and cakes.
5. Hang-gliding over Rio – Adrenaline activity, count me in. A half hour journey up top of a mountain, in which you are attached tandem to a hang glide. The instructor says to just run off the edge of the platform and not to jump! Not the easiest thing to do when your natural instinct is to jump when your about to fall off a mountain. But hay, look towards the horizon and keep running off the edge and then you will flyyyyy! Feeling like superman over Rio! Pure awesomeness! The instructor even let me control the handglide, but shortly took the controls back after I started to head towards the mountain. An abrupt landing on the beach.
6. Famous steps in Lapa – Another iconic area of brasil is the Steps in Lapa which were created by an artist covering it with tiles from around the world. This was also made famous by the Snoop Dogg and Pharrel music video – ‘Beautiful’. A pretty cool place.
1. Sand boarding – Some very cool and high sand dunes that we hired old snowboards, got given a candle of wax and trekked up to the dunes. We then “Wax on” the bottom of the snowboard, strap our feet in a take the plunge down. After catching some speed, you flip over, but luckily it’s soft sand so not a bad fall. Some very fast and fun dunes to sandboard down.
2. Beaches – There are 42 beaches on the island of Florianopolis and there’s never enough time to visit even a handful of them. Nice long stretches of white sand, brasilian music and barbequed cheese on a stick.
3. Trek to secluded beach – a guy we met had hired a car, so we took a road trip to the bottom of the island, parked up and walked for over 3 hours to get to this beautiful beach. Worth the cold dip after trekking in the humidity of the forest.
Foz de iguaçu
1. Brasil side and Argentinian side – Both sides of the falls are just as impressive as each other. This was actually my second time visiting the falls and I’m amazed at how special this place is. There are no other falls that can compare to this, just so impressive.
3. Boat ride inside falls – The best boat ride you can ever take to a waterfalls. The small boat takes you right inside the falls and you get completely drenched. There are moments where you can’t see anything and are just constantly splashed from the falls, just incredible.
4. Cheeky animals – There are lots of these animals called Coati’s running around causing mischief. Any item of food or even a bag, they run towards and try to steal.
5. Brasilian BBQ – restaurants in Brasil serve meat on a continuous basis. You just sit at the table and waiters come around offering different cuts and types of meat, non-stop. No chance of leaving hungry at one of these places.
6. Stolen luggage on 16 hour bus journey – After a grueling 16 hour bus journey from Florianopolis to Iguacu, on arrival I get off the bus and find that my entire big 60litre backpack has been stolen. Even though they tag every bag with a number and “supposedly” check off every bag taken off with a matching ticket, my bag “suspiciously” has gone missing. With the huge language barrier of trying to explain this and asking for receipt of loss of bag, it proves very difficult to obtain. Luckily my valuables, camera and passport were in my small hand luggage so I was still with my important documents, just no clothes except for what I was wearing. The loss of expensive trekking gear and those ridiculously expensive pair of gloves I bought for Everest base camp have been stolen! What can you really do in this situation…? Absolutely nothing! A shopping trip is on the cards.