14.09.2008 23 °C
Well the trip has finally begun! After a hellish 10 hour flight which despite the comforts of multiple movies, shows and three seats to stretch out across, was still miserable.
Steve was there to meet me at the airport and we headed by taxi to Hotel Columbia by a very expensive taxi ride. The taxi was rear-ended someone, my experiences have yet to improve when involving Brazilian taxi drivers. The hotel was fair and in the afternoon we strolled around while it was still light and had some food. We ended up in a restaurant that offered food by kilogram. So you can choose what you want and of how much. We tried quite a few things which were tasty but I would not be able to identify or name.
The hotel was nice and the breakfast which included papaya and melon was welcome.
We ended up choosing to go with the bus company 1001 to get to Rio. Mainly because it appeared to be the most popular. Seems like different ´levels´of buses leave at different times and for different costs. The bus we ended up on cost $78 Reais which was on an ´executive bus´which meant it had air conditioning and a certain level of reclination. The cheaper buses seem to leave only a couple times a day at awkward times and don´t have much in the way of comfort. The bus ride was fine at first but then half way the bus driver came in and said something in portugese that sounded suspicious and sure enough we ended up taking a detour through some small villages and when we came back onto the highway later it seemed like there was a huge backlog. We arrived in Rio almost two hours late - we were supposed to be picked up at 5.40pm by a taxi sent by the hostel we were staying in. Luckily he waited! We felt especially lucky when we saw the queue for the taxis at the bus station.
The hostel we´re is nice. We have our own room with a fan and temperature is not so humid that it´s stifling.
Our first day in Rio we did hang gliding. Which is supposed to be one of the ´things to do´. It was cloudy but apparently still a go. Now I´m not one for flying even so hang gliding shouldn´t really be on my menu. However I was more worried on the taxi ride there - with wild Brazilian driving keeping me on the edge of my seat. I was nervous when I looked over the edge of the cliff we were going to run off with little more than a oversized kite on our backs. The hang glider I was riding tandem with has 22 years experience so there was not much to worry about. It was like being a bird I suppose. Amazing views and quiet and tranquility. We glided for probably 20 minutes or so before we landed on the beach rather softly. All in all a great time.
We visited Santa Teresa later that day, taking a rickety ´bungee´ tram. Which has no railings and is accosted often by street urchins. Santa Teresa was a nice quaint area. The best part was the bookshop at the top of the hill with delicious cappuccino´s and the reggae/salsa band playing nearby. We listened to that till night time and enjoyed the famous local drink caipirhinas. Those simple moments of good music and drink was even better than hang gliding in my opinion.
Today it´s been raining on and off and from what I understand will be until after we leave - looks like we won´t be getting any lovely shots of Rio in the sun from the Sugar Loaf. We ended up at the Botanical Gardens which was quite beautiful and extensive. Surprisingly so. Next couple days we´ll be hitting Christ Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf, Copacabana beach and Ipanema Beach - should be good even with the grim weather.