A Travellerspoint blog

Hang-gliding, Ilha Grande and Paraty

sunny 32 °C

´Put your own sweet hand in mine, we´ll float in space and drift in time´ Ladies and Gentleman we are floating in space by Spiritualized

Since I last wrote we have been hang-gliding above Rio, caught a ferry with some groceries, spent 3 nights on the tropical island of Ihla Grande and enjoyed the old town of Paraty. Stand by for an update.

Monday 11th February
We got up at 11am, which tended to be when we got up every day in Rio. We phoned Fraser and arranged to meet him at Copacabana at 2,30pm. In between we went to the bus station and booked a bus for Wednesday to Ihla Grande. We had a few beers at a bar on the beach and watched some Brazilians play foot-volley, got a bite to eat, had a few more beers and watched some more football. All in all a relaxing day.

Tuesday 12th February
Got up at 11am and decided we wanted to do a tandem hang-glide, something we had been talking about since we got to Rio. One of our favourite programs back home is Globetrekker and we saw Ian Wright, the presenter and not the irratating ex-Arsenal player, do a hang-glide over Rio and it looked fab.

We got picked up at 2pm and drove through the city to Sao Conrado beach, signed our waiver forms and drove up the hill to the take off platform high above the Tijuca Rainforest national park. Our training was brief - run with the guy, hold on and enjoy. Lynn went first and let out a scream as she left the platform and I watched her dip and then soar into the clear blue sky. I was up next, we ran down the platform and we were off. I felt butterflies in my stomach and pretty soon we were flying. The Cristo de Redeemer statue was visible in the distance, we soared over the rainforest, over some amazing mansions with swimming pools and out over the sea. We turned and came back, landing on the beach. We only had around fifteen minutes in the air, but that was about enough. It was an amazing experience, to fly and soar like a bird. We both got pictures taken and the event filmed. Fraser has taken the pictures and film home and will be dropping them at my Mum´s if anyone wants a look! We haven´t seen them yet, hopefully we don´t look too scared!

After our air adventure we headed to Fraser´s lovely hotel and enjoyed some wine on his balcony while watching the sunset. We then walked along the beach to a nice restaurant called Columbia and enjoyed massive portions of fish and chicken. It was then back to the Sheraton to say goodbye to Fraser, it was great to see him. We have been very lucky in meeting family and friends along the way.

Wednesday 13th February
Our usual wake up time was brought forward to 9am as we were checking out and catching a bus to Angras dos Reis, where we would then catch a ferry to Ilha Grande. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Casa Aurea Hostel and would recommend it to anyone going to Rio. It´s safe, quiet, in the funky area of Santa Teresa and has a cool owner who likes the odd bottle of red.

Our bus left at 11am and we dozed off pretty soon after, waking at 12pm to find we had broken down at the side of the motorway. We had to wait an hour for another bus to come along and we were back on our way. We got to Angras at 2,45pm and thought we would have plenty of time to walk around to the ferry port for the 3,30pm ferry. We were wrong! The sun was beating down and we quickly realised we had further than we thought to walk. With no taxis in sight we soldiered on, sweating buckets. We found the port at 3,22pm on my watch and then ran along the harbour to the ferry. With no seats left we sat on the floor among the grocieries being transported to the island!

The ferry took around 1,5 hours and our hostel was only a ten minute walk from the harbour. We had booked into the Colibri Resort , run by a guy from Sweden and the receptionist was a lovely and helpful blonde Swedish girl called Anika. I immediately thought of Lynn´s cousin Ryan, who has a bit of a thing for Swedish girls!

Check out www.ilhagrande.com.br for full details about the tropical paradise that is Ilha Grande. It´s a UNESCO biosphere reserve, so no new buildings are allowed, there are no roads apart from old horse and cart roads and we only saw two cars there, only allowed for transporting essentials from the mainland.

We had a walk round the lovely town and had prawn risotta for dinner. No alcohol!

Thursday February 14th
Valentines day. We decided to get a boat around the island to Lopez Mendes beach, rumoured to be Brazil´s best. It was certainly gorgeous and we only reached it after a 1 hour boat ride and a 30 minute hike through the rainforest. The sun was shining and only a few brave locals were out sunbathing, the majority sitting in the shade by the edge of the forest. We stayed in the shade but ventured down to the sea for a bit of wave jumping. The waves were fierce and made for excellent surf and we enjoyed watching some locals catching some waves.

We got the boat back at 3pm after feeling we had had too much sunshine for one day. We grabbed a late light lunch back near our hostel, had a nap and then a wander round town. We enjoyed some excellent ice-cream and had an early night at 10pm. Another night off the beer!

Friday February 15th
We got up at 9am for breakfast and decided to hike to a beach Anika had recommended. It is only accessible by foot and involves a hike through the rainforest and down an old dusty horse and cart road. We set off and were soon drenched in sweat. The humidity in the rainforest was intense and we were relieved to reach the top of the hill and find the open road. We carried along that before reaching a sign that said ´shortcut´. We went back into the rainforst and climbed down until we came across a natural swimming pool and I enjoyed a refreshing dip. We then went back on to the road and down to Dois Rios beach. It was pretty empty, with not many from the main town opting for the hike. It was partially cloudy so we lay on the beach and jumped in and out of the sea before the hike back. We rewarded ourselves with a nice ice-cream! Dois Rios beach is very remote and utterly beautiful. Two rivers converge and meet the sea admist a backdrop of mountains and rain forest. Ilha Grande is truly beautiful.

At night we went back to the sushi restaurant and enjoyed some sushi and fruit juice. A healthy day!

Saturday February 16th
We were up at 8am for breakfast and then walked round to the ferry, due at 10am. We were asked if we wanted to go on a fast boat instead, it would save time and it was cheaper. So we took this option and were certainly going to save time until we were pulled over by the police and the boat owner was made to give everyone on the boat a safety demonstration with life jackets.

We reached the mianland and wisely got a bus to the bus station rather than repeat the walk in the scorching sun. We found that there was a bus to Paraty at 1,20pm. The bus took around 2 hours and we booked into the Pousada Guarana, a lovely ´hostel´ run by a young American guy and his Brazilian wife. Our room was spacious and clean and there was a swimming pool round the corner - lovely.

We showered and walked into town. The old town of Paraty is another UNESCO World Heritage Site - all the best places are - and we enjoyed wandering round and down cobbled streets, with white washed houses, bars and restuarants. We treated ourselves to a beer after 3 nights off and then found a nice wee Argentinian restaurant and enjoyed a steak and another two beers before a lazy walk back to the Pousada.

I also went online to check the United score and found that they had stuffed Arsenal 4-0 in the FA Cup, with Wayne Rooney apparently in sensational form. Get in!

Sunday February 17th
We got up at 9,40am, only to discover that the clocks had gone back and it was only 8,40am so breakfast wouldn´t be ready for another 20 minutes. I killed the time by going for a swim and after speaking to the owners we decided to borrow their bikes and cycle to a waterfall and natural swimming pool about 6km from Paraty.

We set off and passed a 3km to Paraty sign. After another 5 minutes I realised we were on the wrong road. We stopped at a cafe to ask for directions and found that there was a game of football going on round the back - Brazilian Sunday League! We got some water and watched the last fifteen minutes and saw 3 goals, some crazy skill and also some crazy tackles. Brazilian Sunday League didn´t look that different from Scotland´s Sunday Leagues.

We got back on track and made it to the Waterfalls. We were boiling by this point and enjoyed a refreshing dip and I went on a rope swing that some local kids were on.

We then cycle back and chilled out for a couple of hours. We´re now back in the old town and about to go for some food.

Tomorrow we catch a 9,40am bus to Sao Paulo and on the 20th we fly to Ecuador so I will update the blog again when we reach there.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 13:06 Archived in Brazil Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Maracana on YouTube

storm 36 °C

Hey all

I´ve uploaded a few videos to YouTube, might as well make use of the free internet at our hostel! Check the following links.

Flamengo fans celebrate after they open the scoring in their match against Flamengo at the Maracana stadium.

Flamengo fans party in a thunderstorm that at one stage threatened the game.

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 05:47 Archived in Brazil Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Rochina Favela, Statue, Champions parade and Maracana again

sunny 36 °C

´I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...´ True Faith by New Order

Hello everyone

After a couple of days relaxing the last few days have been pretty busy and sunny until a massive thunderstorm interupted the Flamengo V Fluminese game we went to tonight. It was pretty spectacular and the teams walked off for 15 minutes while the fans did the conga in the rain. Fresh photos are on www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn

Wednesday February 6th
We had a very quiet day. Lynn was a little rough after our night in Lapa and spent most of the day in bed sleeping or reading. I went a little walk around town and watched the England game on satellite, flicking between that and the Ireland v Brazil game. We phoned a pizza for dinner and generally had a quiet night hanging around the hostel chatting to people.

Thursday February 6th
We got up at 11am and managed to have showers before the water in the hostel went off for no apparent reason. We jumped a cab to Ipanema beach and met Fraser. We had a pleasant walk along the beach and round some shops before buying some beers and heading to Frasers new hotel. He checked out of his central hotel the day before to move to the Sheraton 15km outside of town. We sat on Fraser´s plush balcony abd chatted for 6 hours, watching the sun set and the waves crashing on to the beach below. It was a great night, relaxed and lots of good stories from the past and present.

Friday February 8th
I got up at 9.30am and left Lynn in bed. I had to get up as tickets for the Samba Schools Championship Parade on Saturday were being delivered between 9.30am and 10.30am. The tickets arrived at 10am. Lynn got up and we had breakfast and hung around until 1pm when we were picked up by bealocal.com to go on a tour of Rio´s biggest Favela - Rochina. Home to an estimated 250,000 people and with a guestimated drug turnover of $1.5 million per week! The favela rises high up a hill in Rio and houses some of the poorest people in the city, along with some very rich drug barons. We arrived at the foot of the Favela and were quickly transported form our bus on to the back of motorbikes and driven up the winding main street of the Favela, hanging on to the back of a local as we weaved in and out of the traffic. We all got to the top and our tour guide wasted no time in taking us down a narrow lane. The main street was pretty much like a normal high street in a normal town, full of shops and people going about their daily business. Down the lanes was a little different, there was a bit of an edge but everyone smiled and kids seemed desperate to pose for pictures so we could then show them on our digital cameras. We visited an artists studio, a bakery where we had lovely doughnuts and a kids creche where bealocal.com donate some of their profits to. We passed kids playing samba music on makeshift instruments and two young girls each wearing one rollerboot and skating down the lanes. The Favela tour was worth doing. It made me appreciate how lucky I am.

At night we went for dinner in Santa Teresa at a funky little restaurant and enjoyed an alcohol free night.

Saturday February 9th
We got up for breakfats around 11am and hung around until Fraser came over at 2pm. We ordered a cab to take us up to the Cristo de Redeemer statue. The statue of Jesus that stands high on one of Rio´s hills at a height of almost 40 metres. We wound our way up the steep hill and got out at the top to marvellous views of Rio. We managed to get some good photos of the statue, despite cloud coming and going. One minute you had a great view and the next a cloud blew by and the statue mysteriously disappeared, reappearing a minute or so later. It was quite eery.

After that we headed down to Santa Teresa for some food and a couple of beers to prepare for the Champions Parade at the Sambradome that we had tickets for. The 6 best schools from the original 3 nights were performing. After a few more beers at the hostel we headed down and were blown away by the schools, 2 of which (including the champions) we had seen the week before.

We had better seats than the previous Saturday, although you tend to stand most of the time. The crowd was in good form and the energy, enthusiasm and excitement generated by the performers and the crowd has to be seen to be believed. Everyone is so proud to take part and the level of effort that goes into costumes, choreography and float design is nothing short of remarkable.

We headed home just after 3am with Santa Tersa being a convenient walk up the hill for Lynn and I, and Fraser having to jump a cab. We got home exhausted but in a great mood.

Sunday February 10th
My alarm went off at 11am and I was tired and rough, but got up for breakfast to watch the United v City game kicking off at 11.30am. It was great to see United playing in a 1950´s style kit in memory of the Busby Babes, with no sponsors, it looked great. Sadly City won 2-1 and United looked tired and jaded and lacking ideas.

After the game Lynn and I went for a kip until 4pm and then caught the end of the African Nations Cup final, won by Egypt. It was a day of football as after that 9 of us were off to the Maracana for the Flamengo v Fluminese derby. The sun was shining and the temperature outside the stadium registered 36 degrees. We were in the Flamengo end and their fans were all dressed in red and black, with Flamengo´s shirts resembling a Dennis The Menace jersey my Mum knitted for me when I was a kid. The first half was open but finished goal-less. Just before half-time the wind picked up and the high temperatures of the last few days brought in a thunderstorm. At half-time the heavens opened, thunder rumlbled and lightning crashed around us. It was spectacular and everyone ran to the back of the stand to shelter.

Flamengo appeared for the 2nd half in torrential rain, but Fluminese didn´t. Then the floodlights went off and after a couple of minutes the ref signaled everyone to go off. This promoted a part among the Flamengo support. People went back out into the rain, danced, sang and di the conga! It was great fun. After 10 minutes or so the floodlights came back on and the rain died slightly. The players came out and the game resumes with the fans still partying, flares going off and flags being waved. Flamengo took the lead with a volley from inside the box into the top corner. Fluminese equalised shortly after with a great free-kick from the edge of the box, curled in low by someone with a sweet left foot. Flumines then scored again from another free kick in a similar position. The game raged from end to end but Fluminese were in command and scored another after sloppy defending. We left as injury time was played and missed the last goal to leave it 4-1 to Fluminese, but we were glad to escape the main rush and get taxis in the rain. We got back to the hostel and ordered pizza and I think we´ll be having an early night!

We plan to leave Rio on Wednesday to travel to the paradice island of Ihla Grande where there are no cars, stunning beaches and rainforest trekking tracks. I´ll see if I can update the blgo from there, if not it may be a week or so until the next update.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 16:29 Archived in Brazil Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Rio De Janeiro

overcast 28 °C

´There is no choice in what I must do, nothing is greater than to be with you´ Mellow Doubt by Teenage Fanclub

Hello again

Well we´ve been up to quite a lot since I last wrote, there is so much going on in Rio just now that it´s hard to keep up. The Brazilians just go crazy during carnival.

I´ve written a seperate blog this morning entitled ´Flowers Of Manchester´ as it is the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster that claimed the lives of 8 of the Busby Babes. It contains a very moving poem written in the aftermath of the crash, check it out.

But back to Rio where it is raining today! The weather has been very mixed since we arrived, blazing sunshine at times, thunder and lightning at others, torrential downpours at least once a day and light drizzle quite a bit of the time. But it has been dry during the important times and the weather has certainly not stopped us or the Brazilians from partying.

Sunday February 3rd
We got up at 11.30am for breakfast. We hung around the hostel for a few hours chatting to people - Greg from Aberdeen and his wife Georgina from Bristol, Mike who is volunteering in Rio, Stewart and Dave from Oz and Justin and Casey from Oz.

We eventually ventured out at 3.30pm and andered down to a shop in Santa Teresa and bought burgers and some salad and went back to the hostel and made some food before an an]fternoon siesta.

Fraser came to meet us at 8pm and after a few beers we decided to head down to the Sambadrome to see if we could get tickets outside for the big parade. We didn´t have any problems getting them. As soon as we got outside a guy came up and asked us if we wanted some. He originally tried to charge us $600 Brazilian for 3, but we got him down to $350 Brazilian, around 30 pounds each. We were in the cheap seats but we still saw everything and certainly got our moneys worth. We got in at 10pm and stayed until just before 2am. The floats, costumes, dancers, colour, passion and energy generated at the Sambadrome has to be seen to be believed. It was fantastic.

We left at 2am and wandered around the Sambadrome. I was immediatly struck at the poverty only yards from a multi-million pound extravaganza. People were watching the parade in the Favela´s (the slums that start on the outside of tha Sambadrome) on tiny TV´s, as they couldn´t afford to go inside.

We ended up walking back to the hostel and Fraser got a taxi. Santa Teresa is right next to the Sambadrome, so we had a 30 minute walk up the hill to our hostel and a good nights sleep.

Monday February 4th
We got up at 11am and had breakfast and then I went back to bed while Lynn pottered around and tidied up a bit. Fraser came to meet us at 2pm and by 3pm the rain had gone off so we went a walk around Santa Teresa and found a full on bloco (street party) happening. We got some drinks and stood and watched and danced to the band that were playing. They were a 5 piece playing Sax, Trombone and various items of percussion. Some of their friends joined in by banging their flip flops together or hitting a can with a stick. Soon there was a big crowd in the square and everyone was in full on carnival mode again. It very rarely stops, there is always something going on, whether it is an official bloco, the sambadrome, stages set up in Lapa or Central or an impromptu street party like this one.

We stayed for a few hours and then went back to the hostel before heading down to Frasers hotel in central. We had dinner there and then went across to Avenue Blanco, where there is always something going on. We ended up parading along the entire Avenue behind a Samba Band, dancing along and even attempting to sing! We got to the top of the Avenue where there was a stage and a band were playing some laid back samba music that had attracted an older crowd. We stayed there for a bit and bumped into Greg and Georgina before heading back down the Avenue. We were halfway down when we were approached from the bottom by another band. We waited in the wings to allow them to pass and then joined in with the crowd. The band had a leader that was showing the crowd what actions to do, so everyone swayed and clapped in time. It was great fun.

We didn´t stay out too long though and got a taxi back to the hostel at midnight. I think the last few days had caught up with us a little!

Tuesday February 5th
We got up at 11am and sorted out some stuff for washing. Fraser came to meet us at 2am and we decided that despite some cloud overhead we would go up Sugar Loaf Mountain. We got a cab to the foot and then paid $35 Brazilian each for two cable cars up to the top. The view from the top was excellent, although it would have been really spectacular if the sun was shining. Rio is such a unique city, in more ways than one. There is the coastline and beaches, and then hills and mountains with districts of Rio built in between, then the statue of Christ The Redeemer looms in the distance and Favelas are built up the hillsides.

We´ve still to go up to the statue, we´re holding out for a nice clear blue day. We had a couple of beers up the top and got a bite to eat before going our seperate ways for siestas. Fraser then came back to meet us at the hostel at 10pm and we had a few drinks with the Aussie´s. At midnight we decided to go down to Lapa, where there are always street parties and there is a stage with bands and DJ´s. There was quite a large crowd down there and we got some drinks and watched a couple of bands before heading home for 3am.

Today, Feb 6th, we have no fixed plans. Fraser is moving hotels today so we won´t see him until tomorrow. I think Lynn and I are going to have a quiet day and maybe plan a few things for when we leave Rio next Monday. We only have 3 weeks in Brazil and we won´t see much of the country at all. But we did decide that Brazil was going to be more like a holiday and we´re enjoying staying in the one place for a decent length of time and our hostel is the best we have stayed in. As Brazil is the size of the USA, we would really need to spend at least 2-3 months here to see a lot of the country, but maybe we´ll come back if Scotland gets to the 2014 World Cup!

Catch you all soon.

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 06:14 Archived in Brazil Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Flowers Of Manchester

It´s difficult for someone of my generation to comprehend or even begin to imagine the news of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster filtering through to the people of Manchester and the supporters of Manchester United Football Club. I´m used to disasters being relayed, reported and confirmed within minutes of them happening on satellite TV, the internet and through mobile phones. Back in 1958 it would have been word of mouth, with reality only hitting home when it was in the black and white print of the newspapers.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster that claimed the lives of seven United players, with Duncan Edwards, a player Bobby Robson still claims to have been the best he has ever seen, dying 15 days later. The aircraft carrying the United team crashed on a snowy runway on it´s third attempt to take off, on the way back from a European tie. Matt Busby´s team was destroyed and it must have seemed that the future of the club was in doubt.

Things move on though, all too quickly sometimes. United played on, youth players and reserves were promoted to the first team. Amazingly, United won their first match after the crash, a young team inspired and moved by the passionate support defeated Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. It was to be the only league match United would win for the rest of the season, their league challenge faltering. They did reach the final of the FA Cup though, only to lose 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers.

Matt Busby was weakened by the crash, spending 3 months in hospital, but Busby vowed to bounce back and bring the European Cup to Manchester.

Things move on, but some things are never forgotten. On a balmy May night in 1968 at Wembley, 10 years after he lay among the snow on a Munich runway, Matt Busby lifted the European Cup for Manchester United. United defeated Euseubio´s Benfica 4-1. Bobby Charlton, who had been in the crash back in 58 scored two goals, with George Best and a young Brian Kidd bagging the other two.

It´s quite a story and there are many chapters still to be written about Manchester United Football Club, but you can be sure that 1958 will never be forgotten. Printed below is a poem written by a United supporter in the aftermath of the disaster.

Lyric by Eric Winter

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Eight men will never play again who met destruction there,
The Flowers of English football, the Flowers of Manchester.

Matt Busby's boys were flying home, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family, all masters of their trade,
The pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times they tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runway disaster followed close,
There was slush upon that runaway and the aircraft never rose,
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned,
And eight of the team were killed as the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor who were capped for England's side.
And Ireland's Billy Whelan and England's Geoff Bent died,
Mark Jones and Eddie Colman, and David Pegg also
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain.
And Ireland's brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again,
The great Matt Busby lay there, the father of his team,
Three long months passed by before he saw his team again.

The trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,
Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
and one of them Big Swifty, who we will ne'er forget,
the finest English 'keeper that ever graced the net.

Oh, England's finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
the Flowers of English football, the Flowers of Manchester.

Posted by murray2701 05:58 Archived in England Comments (0)

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