11.02.2008 - 17.02.2008 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