Travel Journal

Our Christmas and New Year

(Monday 10 January 2011) by Brennan-adventures
A Happy New Year to you all,
I do hope your festive season celebrations went well and everyone had a good time.

Here ??
Well Mike and I flew to into Rio on the 23rd Dec. We had hired two 1 bedroom apartments next door to each other… One for mike and I and the other for Em and Tim, they were arriving a few days later on the 25th Dec. The apartments were studio apartments with the smallest Kitchens in the world. Infact I had to stretch up on tip toe to reach the microwave oven, and the hob in our apartment looked distinctly dodgy….( Em and Tim’s apartment had a cooker but they could not have a shower and leave the air con on or the fuses would trip out !!!) 8-O The owner (a Dutchman) assured us the hob was ok. He was very nice and certainly made sure we had loads of info about where/what to do while in Rio.

We spent the first couple of days on the beach waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. Mike ended up getting burned on his knees, and then looked like a reptile shedding skin for a couple of weeks….not a pretty sight!!! :-,
We were a little worried as the area the apartments were situated in was a little further from the beach than normal…. It was fine though and we had no problem with finding restaurants or supermarkets….. I was a little preoccupied thinking about what/ where everyone would eat on Xmas day. One of the supermarkets was open from 10am until 4pm on Xmas day, so no worries about forgetting the essentials. The restaurants closed on the evening of the 24th…. I think this happens across Europe too. Luckily we had organised some food for that evening, or else it was a snack at the beach for us.
Christmas day was a little strange, felt like any other day… Loads of people at the beach and all the vendors and people in the beach shacks were working. The only concession to Christmas day was both sides of the road were closed to traffic…. I think this was also due to a free concert being held on the beach that night… It was a well known Brazilian singer performing and 50.000 people were expected. We had decided it would be too problematic to even try to go… With all the crowds we could not guarantee getting back to the apartment for Em and Tim arriving. They were due about 10pm in the evening; we sat at a dubious street corner bar and watched the concert on T.V. while looking out for a yellow cab to appear. ;-)

Well the family appeared out of a blue car??!! They had decided not to take advice about where to get taxi’s and been approached by a man… they were taken to his car and luckily he was honest and brought them to the apartment…. Kids??!! You could wring their necks at times. >:-(8-O
I think it gave them a bit of a scare too as they did admit they were a little concerned; Luckily Em had been in Rio before and she recognised some areas so knew they were going the correct way.

Well the next two days was a busy “see the sights” type of thing. The queues were horrendous, too many tourists there for Christmas !!! At one point the queuing time for the Christ statue was 2 ½ hours. The weather had been glorious until 1 hour before our funicular train was due… the rain came down and by the time we reached Christ we could not see his feet because of the mist!! There was a bit of a wind so suddenly there would be breaks in the cloud, I was Christ spotting while Mike was Beach spotting… The Family was being pulled in every direction as we shouted “quick look this way, or quick the beach is visible”…. Poor Em was quite exhausted after all the stress. The Sugar loaf was not much better, I did feel sorry for Tim as he did not get a great view from either venue, I told him it means you have to come back!!

After the two days in Rio we had to move on, it entailed had an internal flight to San Jose de Rio Preto then a 2 ½ hour drive to Ilha Solteira. When we arrived Em was surprised, I had obviously talked down the town and they were expecting 6 shops and a few houses. They were shocked at the size and affluence of Marilene’s house; the cake shop and Ice-cream shop were hits as well!!!
We managed to see the zoo and visited the clear river place Mike and I had found a couple of weeks earlier. There were loads of people there enjoying the sunshine, the only problem was nowhere to buy drinks… Luckily we had taken a small cool-bag so managed 3 hours there.
New Years Eve was the liveliest we have had in years. We decided to visit the beach at the dam; we had heard there was to be fireworks…
Well there was not just fireworks but a large stage at one end of the beach and a live group at the other. The live group played traditional Brazilian music and catered for the older party goers. The stage had a funkier Brazilian rock thing going. The shacks were all open doing a roaring trade in beer. There were hundreds of people dancing and generally having fun. The fireworks lasted 20mins and although lacking in height at times was really enjoyable. Em was amazed how fast people danced and also how quickly the girl in front of us could make her bum vibrate!! We managed until 1-30am then on the way home stopped off at the only eatery open for fish and chips!!! :-)
The day before Em and Tim flew home we travelled to Rio Preto, the plan was to spend the day at a hot water-park then stay the night. This gave us a lazy start the next day before Em and Tim had to catch the flight to Rio mid afternoon. They then had to get across Rio… hopefully taking a yellow cab this time!! They then had to catch the flight to the U.K. around 11pm.
Well the water- park was great, although I would not like to visit it at a weekend, this was a Wednesday and it was very busy. There were some really high and scary looking slides that only Tim braved; he came down them like a bullet!!! 8-O:-\ Then there was some less scary looking slides that the other 3 scaredy-cats tried. However once at the top and travelling down them they were terrifying!!! I really believe when I am forced around a bend on the slides that I am going to slide over the top…. I was really brave and not a peep escaped my mouth!!! We ( Mike and I) had a ride down a slide in a rubber ring with two seats… It was scary in the fact I did not think we were going to stop!!!
The temperature of the water ranged from cool in the big wide pools and the wave pool to warm in the pools as you exited the slides…. The warmest pool temperature was like getting into a very warm bath, I love those but the others found it too warm. :-|
There was a lazy river, you just float and the current in the river does the work… Well this one had some hidden traps, I of course got caught and went head over heels under the water as I was caught by a huge waterfall emptying into the river…… Mike of course just laughed as I was swept away!!! It was a good afternoon’s entertainment; we then had dinner and an early night.

Next day after a lazy morning, off for lunch then all too soon it was packing them onto the plane. Mike and I had seen on the news the previous evening there had been huge floods and problems in Sao Paulo, and in Rio Preto we had a huge thunderstorm that lasted 4-5 hours…. I was a little worried the rain would travel to Rio. Thankfully all went well and the flight to U.K. took off only ½ hour late.
The flights from Sao Paulo however did not take off and the roads were flooded for 2 days… whew at least they are home safely… Yes they did get a yellow cab!!
Well now it’s back to a huge house and us rattling around, I have lots of cooking to replace the food eaten in the freezer and Mike is back to work. Well that was our Xmas and New Years, how was yours????

Oh the Christmas cake was a hit, although the almond paste and icing got crunchier as the week went on…. I have stripped the icing from the smaller one and put the cake in the freezer now. The extra heavy sloshing of Contreau did the trick and stopped the cake going mouldy. :-^

The only other thing we have been having some stress over is Bats landing in the pool!! I found a very bedraggled bat sitting on the pool step about midday; poor thing had been in the sun since dawn!!! I thought it was dead until I saw a movement. I picked it up carefully with two small shovels, as Mike told me they are the biggest carriers of the Rabies disease. I put it in the shade and poured even more water on it to counteract the chlorine. It sat there until 7pm when suddenly we saw it shimmying along the floor, nice and fluffy now but not able to get off the ground.
I lifted it again with the shovel and put it on the bough of a tree as we were going out; I was worried we would run over it and kill it when we returned into the garage. When we returned there was no sign of the bat either in the tree or on the ground so I can only assume it flew away.
Well damn me the night we arrived home from Rio Preto here was another bat (or maybe the same one) struggling to keep afloat in the pool, this time the step was covered with water. I had to hook it out with my glasses as we had nothing else suitable for houwking things out of the pool, and then left it alongside the pool to dry off. Luckily for the stupid thing I was staying up until I got a text telling me Em and Tim had got on the flight; so saw it heading back towards the pool…. What is it with this stupid bat!!! Well it was quickly put on the shovel and houwked into a large bush. So far so good and we have not had another bat problem.
Mike was reading that when they land on the ground they have big problems getting into the air again especially if they had been injured or stressed… well I am sure a dunking in the pool counts as stress!!!

Tomorrow I have a visit to the Dentist, getting the crown sorted out and checking the other teeth… let’s hope it’s not going to cost a fortune!!
Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness for 2011
Love Laur xx

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