A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: geranddebs

Rio De Janiero - Brazil and Last stop!

sunny 27 °C
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Our final destination Rio De Janiero.... we arrived at about 1 in the afternoon after our bus journey from Ilha Grande and we had a city tour booked at 2 so we were straight back into tourist mode after our relaxing few days on the beach...

We started with Christ The Redemer (Cristo Redentor) statue which we hadnt realised was absolutely massive, you had to drive up the mountain to get to it, but from images we had seen previously we thought it was going to be a lot lower, but it was awesome. The mountain itself is called Corcovado ( Hunchback) and then Christ stands tall on top, it was pretty amazing and we were all quite dumbfounded for a bit. There is also a small wee chapel on top that you can go in and say a wee prayer while up there which was pretty cool. Obviously though the top was jam packed with tourists and everyone was cramming for the pictures but it still didnt take away from the place.

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We headed back down the mountain and through the city suburbs of Centro and Santa Theresa stopping at the cities cathedral and Candalaria for a bit, we were on a bit of a tight schedule as we wanted to make it up Sugar Loaf mountain for the sunset, but it was quite amusing when we got to this famous cathedral in Rio that holds 20000 people that the sign outside was advertsing their radio station!!

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We made it to Sugar Loaf for about 5pm and managed to get the 2 cable cars up in time to watch the sunset over Rio and see Christ the Redemer glow over the city lights...very cool, it was a fab view over Rio and especially with the lights on the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches they looked super, even though most of the lads were more excited about seeing the Maracana football stadium from the top!

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That night was our last as part of the tour and in true irish style we had dinner in a pizza place and headed to the Irish pub Shenanigans in Ipanema! Was good craic and we even managed to find another irish pub owned by a cork man who said he would show the All Ireland the following morning if he woke in time! We made it to the Irish pub the following morning along with about 20 others but the Cork man didnt make it up out of his bed so in the end we didnt get to see the match but it had been a good night regardless.

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On the sunday night however we were headed to the Maracana stadium for what was a huge football match, the 2 teams Flamenco and Vasco De Gama - big rivals, were playing in the local derby and it had already been rescheduled once so the fans were all well up for it this evening! We got there and it was just crazy, it was unbelievable the largest stadium in the world and it was packed out and you would have just thought it was a massive rave up party because the build up to the match alone was incredible, the locals definitely know how to put on a good show and are passionate about their football! It was very hard not to join in and especially when the lads were coming round with cans of beer for 3 reais every 2 seconds!
Some of the props were fab, they had huge football jerseys of each team, fireworks, huge inflatable balloons, and any amount of flags although the Flamenco one with Mo from the simpsons was a particular favourite!
Great night and the score ended with a draw so everyone was happy!

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The following morning we felt as if we had finished our trip, all the hype was over and we were on our own then for a few days to relax on copacabana and Ipanema beaches, and would you believe it we got a bit bored, we were just so excited about going home and seeing everyone that the sun and beaches and even shopping couldnt make the week go in any quicker - quite shocking really when you consider where we were! But we did love Copacabana beach, the salesmen were incredible and the people watching even better... a lot of speedos and g- strings!!

We did go out for a romantic dinner with lots of wine though to congratulate ourselves on making it around the world together and still be very much in love with each other at the end! ahh... and even after some cracking karaoke lionel richie tunes were sung badly we agreed that it had been a fantastic trip and wouldnt have changed any of it!

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We also thought that for all the questions that will be asked when we get home or for others who read this we thought we would compile a quick list of bests in case anyone is following in our footsteps or plan to.............obviously all the relatives and friends we stayed with are excempt from these as it goes without saying how fab they were!

Best places we visited:

Cambodia
Canadian Rockies
South America - Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Galapagos & Brazil in general.

Best Breakfast:

China in Chengdu surprisingly did a cracking muesli and fruit
Paraty in Brazil did a great continental number with ham, cheese, fresh bread, fruit and a nice cuppa tea!

Best Lunch:

Uruguayan Ranch/farm Barbeque
Lake Titicaca fresh salad and meat rolls on the boat

Best Dinner:

Thailand Red curry on the beach in Ko Tao
China in Chengdu did a super Tibetan Yak casserole stew thing

Best Hotel that we treated ourselves to:

Singapore The Scarlet hotel...extremely arabian nights!
Sensei Paradise resort in Ko Tao Thailand - very honeymooney!

Best Hostel:

Australia - Cairns Dreatime host Chris is well sound
Amazon Jungle logde - no electricity but candles were fab!

Best Campervan motor park:

Wanaka New Zealand - great showers!!

Best sunsets:

New Zealand 90 mile beach on the north island
Thailand Ko Phangnan
Brazil Paraty

Best achievements:

Trekking for 4 days to Machu Picchu!

Living in a toyota hiace campervan for 4 weeks with each other and making it from the very bottom tip of the south island to the very top tip of the north island without strangling each other!

The last blog entry and we are headed for Rio international airport now to check in and watch Ireland play France in the rugby and a few farewell beers! For all those in Belfast we will see you in the local kings head tomorrow night...cant wait!!

Deb and Ger

Posted by geranddebs 05:44 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Paraty, Ilha Grande - Brazil

sunny 32 °C
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We got the 24hr bus ride to the coastal town of Paraty, stopping on the way in Sao Paolo. Paraty was a gorgeous wee village with cobble streets and it had just had a festival so the streets were all still lined with bunting and the party atmosphere was still very much alive.
There wasnt much on the agenda here for the 2 nights we were staying apart from going to the beaches and relaxing... which suited us down to the ground.
There was an option to go on a boat trip the following day but we opted instead to head to a local beach called Jabaquara. Very remote little beach but beautiful and only a few people there so we more or less had it to ourselves, a few of us from the group went out and just chilled out dinking coconuts for the afternoon!

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The following day was more of the same only this time myself and ger took ourselves off on a day alone to a place called Trindade. We caught the local bus out to the village which was kinda stuck back in the hippie era, very cool and very chilled out! Although the bus driver we reckon was a definite relative of Pablo Montoya as you would have thought he was driving a F1 car instead of a 50 seater old bus!
It was mad though as once you got there to the beach you stopped and started to unpack etc only to realise that if you were willing to go a further 15 minutes hike up into the mountains and forest you would be able to get to the secret section and the natural lagoons! Not many people here as you can imagine but we felt as if we were in Lord of the flies trying to hike our way through to the secret beach!

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After spending our last night in Paraty controversially at a Thai Brazil restaurant (which was well nice may i add) followed by drinks at the local Che Guevara bar, we all got on the 10am boat the following morning heading for the Ilha Grande (Big island).
We were staying at a place called Mata nativa for 3 nights and it was pure luxury, there were no cars on the island and there was just sand everywhere so shoes werent even a must!
We all thought it was fab and we even had our own BBQ and drinking area, which of course we made full use of, including rocking chairs and hammocks!

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On Ilha Grande there is a very famous beach known as Lopez Mendes, where the sand is pure white and the water is crystal clear. You had to catch another boat around the island and then hike for a bit to get to it but when you did it was worth it. We had another group option to go on a boat trip but some of us just ended up going to this beach for the 2 days as it was so nice. You could however also hike for 2 hours instead of getting the boat around the island, but in sweltering heat and with hangovers i didnt bother.. Ger did ..Twice!!

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We all decided to have a BBQ that night and because we were all so taken by the Lopez Mendes beach some of us decided to buy the T-shirt so to speak in support of it that night at the group get together! The 4 of us did however look as if we had all just been let out for the day and Ger and Matt looked as if they were working in a pizza joint with theirs on... even though they did make everyone a great feed that night!!

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On our last night in Ilha Grande we just got in the beers again and sat in the rocking chairs and hammocks at the Mata Nativa and got rightly juiced!
We were all headed for the 830 boat back to paraty in the morning from where we were getting a bus to take us up to Rio for the last day of our tour group ( im sure our leader maria was glad for the rest!!) and for myself and Ger our final destination before heading home!!

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Posted by geranddebs 14:56 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

sunny 32 °C
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We had to take a 14hr bus to go from Salto in Uruguay back across into Argentina and then cross the border back into Brazil! It was a bit ass about face and at this stage the stamps for the argentinian border crossing are all over our passports!
The bus was actually quite comfortable but i think because we were all so excited no one coud sleep, and the cheesy Jean Claude Van Dame movies they were showing on the bus didnt help either! We arrived in Foz Do Iguazu the next morning at about 11 and there was an option to take a helicopter flight up over the falls to get our first views.. it was a must so a few of us headed off, it was just a 20 minute trip that cost around 40 euro but we had heard it was a must see and they were right it was amazing.. Four of us went up in the one helicopter first and the pilot was class he made sure and give us the views from every possible angle banking left and right, Ger was sitting up beside the pilot and thought he was straight out of Fire Wolf! But he had a birdseye view even though when he spotted dark oil coloured liquid oozing from under his seat he did get a bit anxious...but then the pilot told him sorry he had just spilt his can of coke he had on the floor!!

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After a fab start to the day we all had lunch and were headed to see the Brazilian side of the falls, we hadnt realised before we got there, but there are 2 sides to the falls, brazilian and argentinian. You get completely different views from each but the Argentinian we reckoned was the best.
The Brazilian side lets you view the waterfalls from the top, as you take a path around the top of them and you end up working your way down then to the walkway that has been built and this takes you right out into the falls...you get wet at this stage but we didnt care as it was roasting weather. We also got to encounter the local wildlife..apart from the loads of hawkes all around the place, there was the brazilian version of the racoon! Cheeky wee rascals mind as they would torture you and climb on you if they thought you had any food!

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We spent all afternoon on the brazilian side watching the water and counting all the rainbows, which were beautiful, before we headed back to our hotel del Rey for a night out..this started in a local bar packed out due to the fact that it was showing the premiership football! from here we went to a local night club which was like the south american version of phoenix nights bar...very unusual as you only pay for your drinks at the end of the night on the way out... they basically just give you a sheet of paper and mark off what you have each time, very dangerous though as you dont really know what you are spending..great nights craic, even funnier trying to watch the other lads in the group trying to touch for the locals!!

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The following morning we were away early to travel back into Argentina and get more passport stamps so we could see the argentinian side of the falls. We had a full day planned and it started with a walk down to the argentinian views of the falls, it was amazing and Ger said that having been to Niagara that this was 100 times better! The volume of water was just incredible and again the wildlife especially the butterflies everywhere were gorgeous.

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A boat trip was next on the agenda, in big rafts down through the sub tropical rain forests of Iguazu and we did manage to get in the water at one stage as well... it was nice and you could see the edge of the falls from the boat which was a bit unnerving!

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After our trip we were taken in huge old army truck jeep things back through the forest to go for lunch...

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After lunch we were booked to spend the rest of the afternoon actually in and under the waterfalls. You get booked on a speed boat trip that takes you up the river again and into all the rapids of the waterfalls so you are at the bottom of them and then the captain tells everyone to put away the cameras in the waterproof bags and under he goes... you get fully drenched and it was brilliant! We went under waterfalls called the 3 musketeers and the san Martin and then after he lets you off to go and sit and dry off on the small beach and acually go swimming as well in the iguazu water!

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This was definitely a trip not to be missed and even on the walk back home over the falls you wouldnt tire of looking at the waterfalls! We even got a limited edition can of coke on the way home as well!!

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That night some of us headed out for a cultural samba show and dinner which was fab as well the dances and colours oh yes and the drinks! and of course we got to join in at the end and even got photos with some of the stars... Ger got a better deal although my guys abs were incredible underneath his shirt but he wouldnt take it off! Great night though even though the hangover in the mornng didnt help with the next 24hr bus journey to Paraty on the coast of Brazil.

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Posted by geranddebs 06:01 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Uruguay - Colonia, Montevideo, Salto

overcast 15 °C
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We took the ferry across into Uruguay and through yet another border control, passport pages are getting rightly filled at this stage!
Colonia is a small village type place very quaint and it was nice to get away from the cities again, the food was brill and we just had a walk about the village that afternoon up and down the cobble streets and around by the lighthouse, there wasnt a lot to do but the place was so nice and chilled it didnt matter although we were told not to miss the sunset and a few beers at the coast that evening, so off course we had to comply, but it was amazing the sunset looked like a picture, very god like and no that wasnt because we were tipsy!

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That night we all headed out for dinner in a place called El Drugstore.... very cool name and we did wander what we were going to get but it was fab and you got to watch your food being cooked right in front of you, it was like a big kitchen at home really, but if you didnt fancy eating in the restaurant they had an old vintage car outside all decked with a table and flowers inside if those of a more romantic nature fancied it!

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first impressions of colonia were great even though Ger found it amazing that some of the cars they drove were still on the road, but it was so far removed from traffic jams and busy cities that we thought it was super..

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The following day we all headed out to a Uruguayan farm.. strange choice of activities seeing we are from Ireland but we thought we would give it a lash as horseriding, milking cows and having a uruguayan BBQ we all on the agenda so we couldnt refuse...
The farm or ranch as they call it, was called the 3 buttons and it was so cute.. i think because the sun was shining it did make it a lot more enjoyable that farm visiting back home... no offence! And yes you guessed it myself and Ger volunteered for cow milking, cheese making and watching a cow being insemanated!

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But it was a cool day, the animals were more or less the same even though I had never seen a cow wearing a coat! But Ger did go horse riding for the first time and i think he pulled off the John wayne look very well! Paula dont worry i went as well seeing i missed this years traditional horseriding in Donegal followed by tea and scones with you, and yes the horses were asking for you...haha

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The lunch that the family put on was great as they started with some wine and cheese made by themselves so we got rightly stuck in and then the bbq came out which was more of less a couple of the cows that we had just seen! But very tasty...

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We even got a go on their zip wire that the family kids use to cross the river!!

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We headed away then the following day to Montevideo the capital, and we were staying here for 2 nights. However when we arrived the weather wasnt the best so we all headed for the local uruguayan irish bar Shannons and spent most of our time in there and next door at the nightclub!

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The following day as you can imagine was a bit of a non event at least for me anyhow, i did make it out of the hotel room for about a half hour but then had to go back and stayed there until 5pm that night when i Ger back and he came to mcdonalds with me!! Very bad hangover! So he was left to be tourist for the day on his own around the city but to be honest i dont think i missed much as apparently theres not much to write home about apart from the main square...

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We were off again the following morning North to Salto for one night before leaving Uruguay and heading back across Argentina and into Brazil. Salto was a very quiet place as well and all we did was catch up on some washing and chill out and get ready for the Iguasu falls!

Posted by geranddebs 12:48 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Argentina - Buenos Aires

sunny 15 °C
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We had booked into the Hotel Splendid in Buenos Aires, which wasnt too splendid, but it was where our next gap tour was staring so it would do. We spent our first day however chilling out and catching up on the laundry... very boring, but we did manage to have a quick look around and book some stuff for the rest of the week to keep us going.
Seeing as Buenos Aires is apparently the home of the Tango, myself and Ger had an agreement that if i went with him to the River Plate football stadium for a match then he would come with me for the Tango show!!
So thats how the week started, we headed our for a football match between River Plate the home team against the Estudiantes away team. It was a great day out .. the south americans love the football and the place was heaving it was like a party nevermind a match, they really go for it and seeing that River Plate won was even better. Although they do keep you in the stadium until the other fans leave on their buses which is probably for the best!

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It worked out a pretty good deal, i got to eat burgers for lunch and sit in the sun and Ger was happy out watching Ortega playing football!
We had booked to go on a city tour the following morning to include the evita balcony and the Boca stadium and neighbourhood (the other argentinian football team). So the 2 of us we walking around all day humming "Dont cry for me Argentina" after seeing the famous govenment balcony where she made her speech! pretty cool though..

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After this we headed to the boca stadium - Maradonna´s original club, so we werent leaving without a jersey of course...but the Boca neighbourhood itself is famous more so for its colours and tango, the whole place, buildings , shops etc are all painted bright colours, its fab. The football stadium is actually known as the chocolate box because its so colourful!

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We stayed here for a bit and then headed back to get ready for our tango show that night... we had gone for the dinner and drinks all in deal, and even dressed up a bit for the occasion! The food was amazing but i think we were the only ones taking full advantage of the free drinks... and we got very friendly with a few bottles of red wine! Brilliant show though so a good night was had by all!

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On the Friday we met our new Gap group that we would be travelling to Rio with, there was 15 of us this time and they all seem very cool as everyone is the me age.. There is even a couple from Belfast on their honeymoon who are friends with my sister! Very small world...so it was great to get all the bizz from home from them over a few introductory beers! All of which we very cheap we actually bought beers from the local supermarket and it worked out about one euro for a litre of heineken!

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We were heading away then from Buenos Aires to Uruguay and Colonia - a small village on the coast on the sunday morning so saturday was another chill out eat and drink day, we even managed to get some great pork and apple sauce, banana splits and glass bottles of coke from the Buenos Aires irish Bar "the clover" before we left!!

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Posted by geranddebs 13:25 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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