Travel Journal

Ilha Solteira and Rio de Janeiro

(Friday 3 July 2009) by Brennan-adventures
Hello Folks,
How are things with you all ??? I hear summer in U.K. has arrived. …. About time !!
Well things with us have been busy, we travelled down to San Jose de Rio Preto and met Andy and Babs off their flight from Sao Paulo. :-)
Our 2= hour car journey to Ilha passed quickly, catching up on a weeks news and talking about the vegetation. Babs and Andy had been up since 4am that morning and this was the night of the party….The weather was at least warm and sunny.
The party (we were told) was a success. Babs and Andy although shattered managed to chat to the Brazillian amigos until around 11pm.

Vicente and Marilene then invited us around to their house on Saturday and Sunday morning to watch the Formula 1 racing… a labour of love and friendship as it started at 9am each morning!! I was then under pressure to provide the same fantastic breakfast as they had produced…. Failed and lost points for the rest of the week!!! :-,

The 5 days passed quickly and both Andy and Babs started slowing down and easing into the lazy groove Ilha sucks you into. Babs and I got our nails done, so she now knows how long these things take !! We did not manage the highlight of Ilha … the zoo…. just not enough time or inclination to go !!!….. We did however see a couple of movies……B& A have an enormous television in the U.K, but here in Ilha we had to sit outside and squeeze around Mikees 15” laptop screen to watch the movies… Well they will certainly appreciate their Television when they return home!! ;-)

Lots of coffee; ice cream licking; eating and hammock swinging was achieved; and we did manage to get to the BBQ restaurant. Babs and Andy were very impressed with both the taste and service…

Thursday saw us all travelling back to our local airport…San Jose then onto Rio de Janeiro. We all checked in together and were told all the luggage would automatically be transferred to Rio….we had a 2hour stop in Sao Paulo…
In Sao Paulo we fittered around eating and browsing the shops. The flight was called and we boarded…. Babs and Andy were seated at the front of the plane; we were seated nearer the middle. As we approached our seats we saw one was occupied.
The stewardess then told us that we had been supposed to be on the earlier flight!!!!! Panic we had not even checked the tickets as we all were supposed to be on the same flight….. Those poor people on the other flight must have been cursing us as they waited, and waited and waited for us to arrive…. We hadn’t even gone through to departures then, we were having coffee. 8-O
The stewardess told us to sit in these seats at the back…. We took off but I am still convinced nobody knew we were on that flight. The next problem was NO LUGGAGE it had been off loaded because we hadn’t been on the previous flight!!…. Mike went to see what could be done and was assured it would be with us that evening…. It was 6pm already so we really did not expect this to be true…. However at 10-30pm the luggage arrived at our apartment…. 0:-)

Our apartment was between Copacabana beach and Ipaneama Beach…. Both beaches are huge with white sand and big waves. Ipaneama is the posher end and certainly the apartments and Hotels looked swankier.
Our apartment had two double rooms both with small bathrooms; a large sitting/dining area and a small kitchen area. There was also another single bathroom. The apartment was a little tired but in a great setting… I think I could have managed to stay there for a month or two!!

Our first day, Friday was cloudy, rainy and chilly, around 20c. We walked along Copacabana towards the sugar loaf mountain; once we were fully drenched we decided to leap in a Taxi to take us the last few kilometres. The sugar Loaf is one of Rios iconic places. It is actually two mountains connected by cable cars, The views on a clear day are fantastic, by the time we got up to the top the cloud level had risen a little and we could see the beaches and the sprawl of the city. I keep forgetting how mountainous it is in Rio, so the city is built around the bottom of the mountains and sometimes over them, depending on the size… It truly is a fantastic sight. There are small monkeys there with the highest pitched screech you can imagine, they look cute but like all wild animals can be vicious…. I give them lots of respect and distance!! :-\
We must have spent 3hour or so up the Pao do Acucar. Then we headed for The Bonge… Pronounced Bonjee… This is the last part of the tram system of Rio that still works…. It is not for the tourist, the locals use it to get home to an area called Santa Teresa. This is a very artistic area with lots of studios and restaurants. The tram travels up an incredibly steep track that is also used for buses and cars… At times it seemed impossible for the tram to be able to climb the road.. but it did.
One part of the journey takes you over a viaduct… see the photos…. a very narrow track and a very high drop. There is a flimsy fence stopping you falling over but the locals hang on the sides of the tram Indian style…. Very heart in the mouth stuff!!!
We didn’t manage to the top as there was a blockage on the track, so all that happened was we pushed the back of the bench seat forward and sat down again facing the opposite way to have the return trip. The view is great in some places and you see some Favellas… Slums, but not how we know them. They have been there for years and been added to and have electricity and some have gas. We saw on the television a guy picked up by the police in one Favella; he had a lovely house; swimming pool and BBQ area….. He was a drug dealer, and that is the biggest problem within the Favellas. Most of the crime committed centres around them and the police frequently have gun battles there. In Rio we felt safe enough walking around, but did not carry handbags or wear jewellery…. Or visit any Favellas…..They are on the tourist trail and a taxi driver offered to take us for £12.00 each, we could spend an hour there, we thought rip off and declined the offer.

Next day was Corcovado…. It is a huge Statue of Christ on top of a higher mountain. The day was lovely and sunny at the beach but low cloud meant Christ was very ethereal coming through the mist. You had absolutely no view over Rio infact we were lucky to see Christ!!
The next visit was to the Botanical gardens… supposed to have a great selection of Orchids… Well obviously not the season for flowers, as there were a grand total of 5 in flower!!
There were however lots of trees covered with orchids and epythetic plants ?????????
There was one tree with large fruit the size of a football that was so heavy it was hard to move…. It was called the cannonball tree… God help you if one fell on your head is all I say!! 8-O
There were lots of lovely flowers and bigger monkeys here who posed nicely of course for me… Not a chance every time I pressed the button they turned so I got their bum!! >:-)
It was so peaceful there though; it is strange how a green area with lots of trees in the middle of a busy city can be so quiet and tranquil.
That night we ate in a posh cafi, nice surroundings but a tad expensive for what we ate.

Sunday arrived and Mike had managed to change his Marathon number to a half marathon one…. His knee was still a little iffy and he now had a heavy cold… not a great combination for running anything!!

His route took him in front of our apartment, so it was nice and easy for us to fall out of bed and cheer him on. I awoke with a problem however; a pack of dreaded mossies had eaten me alive. The left side of my face was so swollen I looked like I had been beaten. The little Beggars had got me twice under and on top of my eye; and my top lip also my brow…. I decided wearing sunglasses indoors and outside was my only hope of not scaring the masses!! 8-O
B & A had some antihistamine cream which I slathered on, but still looked like Mohamed Ali had attacked me…. Well even with the glasses on Mike spotted the problem and nearly had a heart attack, thought he had biffed me in his sleep or I had fallen in the shower… couldn’t believe it was a mossie attack!! After calming him down enough to carry on running the supporters jumped in a taxi to the finish.
We had found out there was a football match on that night between the two local teams… It was decided we would attend, the stadium is a famous one Maracana ….. It was built for the first world cup and was near the finish area. -

Once we picked up Mike from the finish, and got him sorted with “Fizzy” (He always yells for fizzy juice when he ends the race)… Off we went to buy the tickets. The taxi driver told us we should be cheering for the Flamencos and dropped us off at the stadium. There was a small restaurant opposite where we were dropped off at gate 18; Mike needed to rest his legs, so he and Babs sat there while Andy and I went for the tickets…
When we asked where to buy the tickets we were told gate 8….. The stadium was huge, so Andy and I felt we had also walked a half marathon by the time we got back to them!! The ticket system was a little confusing, the prices were £ 6-50 or £10.00 ; the 6-50 one was downstairs and the 10.00 was upstairs. There was another type of ticket at £25.00…. I think it was in a box area near the top of the stadium……… We chose the cheapest seats.
It was not clear to us if we had a special area to sit or a specific seat, we were told by the man at the restaurant that gate 18 opposite him was the entrance for the cheap tickets.

We left the apartment around 5pm and headed back to the stadium, following the crowds we went towards the turnstiles. Just before them was a line of police, who pulled up Mikes and Andy’s tee-shirts to see if there was anything hidden there. Once through the turnstiles we asked if there was a special area we had to sit…. No…. it was open seating; we knew “our team colours” were maroon and black so we headed towards them. The stadium was just as huge inside and it had been decided we would sit under the balcony area to protect us from flying debris. There was a large area of “our team supporters” on the balcony just to the left of us, and underneath them was an area roped off. We sat just before the roped off area. This gave us a view of the pitch from the side and both opposing supporters in the balcony seats. In our area the supporters were mixed up, and there was absolutely NO animosity from either side to one another.
It was fascinating to watch HUGE flags being unfurled over the heads of the supporters which had the team’s colours on… I am sure they covered at least 100 fans x 150 fans. They were rolled up again as they reached the last row; goodness knows how long they practised for this?? There were drums, hooters, smaller flags and banners. At one point within a seating block, hundreds of cards appeared over their heads which together spelled out a players name…. very slick !!
Our neighbours in the next seats were supporting the same team as us, so it was just a case of following them….
The game itself was a bit of an anticlimax; the other team had tighter control of the ball and seemed to know where each of their players were… however couldn’t score. Our team kept giving the ball away and name calling started… the worst one I heard was Donkey!!
The crowd watching was good; how passionately they loved the game. Both teams were applauded off to a nil-nil draw.
When leaving with the crowds, again at no time did we feel unsafe or threatened, we got a taxi back to Ipanema and headed to another restaurant. Mike was still shuffling; I still looked like I had been in a punch-up, still it had been a good day.

Monday we tried to get to a sculpture park…. Forgetting if smaller attractions are open over the weekend they are likely to be closed on Monday. We had a nice walk around the lake back to Ipanema, stopping to buy some beach wraps on the way.
Both couples were leaving Rio that day, Mike and me at 5pm in the small Domestic Airport; Babs and Andy at 7pm in the International Airport at the other side of the city.
Luckily at check-in our suitcase still came within the weight limit; and we were put on the earlier flight to Sao Paulo. We then had a 3 hour wait for the flight to San Jose de Rio Preto…. We Checked both tickets carefully this time!! 0:-)
The flights took off on time and until we started our decent into San Jose we had no unusual activity…. Landing gear down, dropping height when suddenly nose up…. heavy throttle…. landing gear up and round the block again… Never did find out why the excitement, but 5 mins later we were on the ground… Mike I think wanted to have a POPE like moment and kiss the ground!! :-\
It was 11pm by this time and we drove off to the Hotel.
Next day, feeling distinctly strange without our travelling companions, we started our drive back to Ilha. I think we are here for a couple of weeks now before another trip.
Well that’s all from my end… quite exhausted typing it all !! Sorry about some of the quality on the photos… got wobbly hands at times!!
Laur xx

  • Hard to believe by Babs

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