A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Carnaval Carnage!


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Finally our last internal flight, our last time moving hotels and the last destination of our honeymoon.

It got off to a bloody annoying start, we were up at 2.30am and when we got to the airport at 3.15am, we were then informed our flight had been delayed by 3 hours, so we had 5 hours sat in a tiny domestic airport with plastic seats and one cafe that sold only beige fried foods. Luckily we had the laptop loaded with movies so we kept ourselves amused, but the extra 3 hours in bed would have been nice!

Finally the flight took off and 2 hours later we were in Rio, as the plane came in to land we could see all the Carnaval bloccos (street parties) taking place below us (it was only 8.30am).

Luckily when we got to our hotel they let us check straight in and the first thing we did was sleep! Feeling refreshed we made plans with a new friend we had made when we were in Buenos Aires, who also lives in Perth and therefore of course has a mutual friend with Lynden.

The night started off civilised, but of course after a few drinks on a roof top hotel bar overlooking Copacabana, the party was on. We were a group of 5 - Lynden and I, Richie and 2 new friends he had made the day before - Cole and Nick from the USA.

Carnaval is basically a week-long fancy dress party in the streets. There are people everywhere in fluoro and glitter and very little clothing, you basically just have to follow the crowd or the music to find the nearest blocco. As you walk down the street there are locals selling beers from eskies, so everyone is street drinking. We found our first blocco, there was a samba band and everyone was dancing to the live music but we were only there about 30mins when it finished. From here we headed to Copacabana beach, bought some very large and alcoholic caprihina cocktails from a guy with a fold out table and an ice box and went on the hunt for a beach bar. It was at this time that Lynden decided he no longer needed his cast and had Richie cut it off with the fruit knife the guy had used to make our cocktails.

We found a bar, grabbed a table on the sand, hit up the dance floor and ordered another round of drinks. It all gets a bit blurry after that. There was definitely lots of dancing and drinks, and one point the boys were wrestling in the sand and then ended up in the ocean. We met more backpackers from UK and USA and we got home some time around 5am…we think.

Our second day in Rio we spent in bed sleeping off the hangovers! That night though we had tickets to go to the Sambadrome to watch the samba school parades - something we had both wanted to do for years. It had been lightly raining all afternoon, but when we came to leave, it was like Iguazu Falls all over again, I don’t think I have ever seen rain that heavy before! We luckily managed to find a taxi but the rain didn’t show any sign of stopping and as the Sambadrome is open air we were drenched, and we had also got there 2 hours early to make sure we got good seats. When we got to our block to find a seat (which were just concrete steps) it actually looked like a waterfall, you couldn’t sit down for all the rain that was pouring over the edges of each row of seats. Wet and cold we perched on the edge of the front row and prayed for the rain to stop. Slowly it eased off and just before 9pm the rain finally stopped and it meant the parade could begin. The samba parade was like nothing we had ever seen before. For 2 days the 14 main samba schools in Brazil compete at the Sambadrome. Each school has 60-85 minutes to complete their parade, they have 1 song, which is sung live for the entire hour and each parade has about 4000 participants and 4 or 5 floats. The costumes are incredible, the floats are insane and each parade tells a different story. What we didn’t realise when we arrived was that each school had an hour to perform and there were 7 schools that night, so the parade wasn’t going to finish until after 6am!

We stayed until 4am and watched 5 of the parades, my favourite was the second one which told the story of magic and had witches riding cauldrons, frogs, a giant golden raven, beauty & the beast, Jack Sparrow and about a million other crazy things. We absolutely loved being there and experiencing the parades, I wish we had had the energy to stay until the end but we just couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.

Day 3 we slept all day again and really just had a lazy day. In the evening we met Richie for dinner and then we went home and had an early night #partyanimals

The next day we had set aside for doing all the classic touristy things. We had an incredible view of Christ the Redeemer from our hotel room and we were both desperate to see him up close. We took the bus up first thing in the morning and it was already crowded and hot, but it was so worth it! The views back over Rio were beautiful and the big guy himself was awesome. Another bucket list item ticked off the list! The day was disgustingly hot and we wanted to do Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset, so we went back to the hotel, did a gym work out and just chilled out. We then headed to see the Selaron Steps, which are around 200 steps covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. However when we arrived, we discovered that the steps had been turned into a blocco and we couldn’t see any of them! BUT as we were at a blocco we figured we should get a drink and at least join in a little bit, but we quickly realised these people had been partying for way too long and everyone was just a hot drunk mess.

So it was onwards to Sugarloaf for sunset and that’s where we met up with Richie, Cole and Nick again. Sugarloaf did not disappoint (although it was a cloudy sunset) but watching the city lights all come on once the sun went down was another cool way to see the city. The highlight though was once it was dark we could see Christ the Redeemer in the distance peaking through the cloud looking down on the city. The photos just don’t do it justice!

Tourist items all ticked off, there was only one thing left to do, hit the town for Canavals final party night. First we had an epic sushi dinner and then we jumped on the metro and headed to Gloria as apparently that was where the party was at….but it was dead. We could hear music and see people all heading in the same direction, so we followed and eventually we walked into the biggest street party ever. It was insane, every bar was playing their music as loud as possible, the streets were packed, the floor was filthy and it smelt like stale beer and pee. We found a quieter bar to regroup and then we headed into the madness once more and into a club where we drank and danced and laughed and just had the best final night together. Lynden also decided at some time close to 4am that he should buy a bottle of vodka and some red bulls – probably the most expensive round ever and by that stage we had drunk so much that none of us really wanted to drink it, luckily the bar had no issue with us taking the half empty bottle home with us. We think we got home around 5am again, but in all honestly we have no clue.

Once again we slept all morning but at 1pm the boys all headed over to our hotel so we could have a pool and sauna afternoon, so for the next few hours we did very little other than chill in the water or sit in the sauna trying to sweat out the alcohol. It was then time to say goodbye for the last time and go our separate ways. We packed our bags for the final time, checked out of our hotel, grabbed a quick dinner and then was picked up by our chauffer and taken to the airport to fly home business class, which is the final highlight of our trip.

So this brings us to the end of our 8 week honeymoon, there has been so many amazing adventures and experiences that we will never forget. Our highlights though:

1 – Peru tour, where we met amazing new friends and conquered Machu Picchu
2 – Easter Island (inc the accidental upgrade to business class)
3 – Our private wine tour in Mendoza
4 – Iguazu Falls (minus the boat tour)
5 – Carnaval – Sambadrome, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and Bloccos
6 – The lifetime of memories this trip has given us and all the new friends we have made.

Now it’s time to head back home to Perth and back to reality.

Posted by sdyzart 12:10 Archived in Brazil Tagged parades honeymoon travel carnaval party carnival celebrations brazil brasil rio south_america copacabana christ_the_redeemer southamerica bloccos sugarloaf_mountain

100% wet


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So you would have thought we would be use to the early starts by now, but nope we still hated rolling out of bed in the early hours to catch our next flight. But a few hours later we had landed and the taxi driver was dropping us off at the Iguazu National Park and we were ready to see us some water!

First thing we wanted to do was book tickets to do the river tour and see the falls up close, but they saw Lynden with his cast coming from a mile away and said absolutely no way was he allowed on the boat. We were both gutted, because it was something we both really wanted to do. Lynden insisted I still do it and he would go and explore one of the hiking tracks, then grab us some lunch and meet me back at the tour desk.

So off I go, completely unprepared it turned out for what I had just signed myself up for. I took my rain jacket with me because I figured there was a good chance I could get wet, so given we were there all day the rain jacket would mean I wouldn’t have to walk around in potentially damp clothes. Well 5 minutes into the truck ride down there, where the guide not only tells us we may need to stop and help move giant low hanging poisonous spiders out of the way (?!?!) she says to us ‘You will get 100% wet on this tour’…sorry what? She then proceeds to tell us that after we take some photos of the falls the boat will drive us directly into them…are you fricking kidding me! So here I am, hair done, makeup on and wearing t-shirt and leggings and as I look around I see EVERYONE else is in their bathers. I’m screwed and then it is too late, I have a life jacket on and they are handing me a dry bag for cameras and I’m wondering how much of my body I can fit in there instead and how the hell am I going to avoid 100% wet. Well I can tell you, when you take the boat tour at Iguzu Falls you cannot avoid 100% wet.

Here I am, sat on a row by myself, fully dressed and wearing a rain poncho, with 25 other people in their swimwear. I looked like a bloody idiot and I know this because people kept turning around and actually looking at me. I had sensibly removed my shoes, socks and hat and locked them in the dry bag, I attempted to roll up my leggings and pull my rain jacket over my knees in a desperate attempt to stay somewhat dry and I had pulled tight the draw string on the hood, so I resembled Kenny from South Park. Well the effort was a big fat waste of time, because a rain jacket is not designed to be driven at speed through one of the worlds biggest waterfalls.

The tour delivered on exactly what it promised, I was indeed 100% wet. The water had gone straight through the top of the rain jacket but somehow not out the other side, so it was sat inside the jacket in pools of water, I only realised this once we were out of the falls and I attempted to move, only to tip the cold water in my sleeves all down the inside of my jacket and on to my lap. As you can imagine I was less than amused and people continued to look back at the idiot who thought she could stay dry on a waterfalls tour. Back on dry land, everyone else grabbed their towels, dried off and put on clothes…I on the other hand squelched all the way back up the 250 steeps to the truck and sat in a puddle waiting to leave.

The great thing about Argentina though is that it’s hot and sunny, so by the time I reached Lynden 30 minutes later I looked somewhat human again and was already drying off.

While I had been drowning, Lynden had made it all the way around one of the hiking tracks, taken nearly 100 photos of the falls, bought lunch and had been waiting for me to return for nearly 45 minutes.

Once I was back we only had 3 hours left at Iguazu before our taxi picked us up, so we jumped straight on the tram and took it up to see the top of the falls. I hate it say it, but I wasn’t overly impressed, yes the falls are big and the crashing water is loud but it just didn’t do anything for me. It was also insanely crowded, which definitely took away from the beauty of it. The map said we needed 2.5 hours to do the top of the falls, but we were done within an hour.

We decided to re do the hike Lynden had done in the morning, as he said it had some beautiful photo opportunities, the walk through the jungle was cool and it wasn’t too crowded. And he wasn’t wrong! The falls looked amazing from down below, the mist created a rainbow at every waterfall and the jungle surrounding them looked like something off of Indiana Jones. We went a little bit crazy with the selfies because we could, without someone pushing past us like at the top. We also just stood and enjoyed nature for a while.

One of the other things I forgot to mention is that Iguazu has coatis everywhere, which are similar to racoons. They look so cute but have massive teeth so we didn’t get too close, but they all run around together, so various times throughout the day as we were walking there would be a band of coati running along through the jungle beside us. They also had no qualms if they thought we had food just boldly walking right up to us.

All watered out, we met our taxi driver and drove to the border crossing. Given the nightmares and hours we have had at every single border crossing, we prepared ourselves for the chaos and queues. Well we were through border control within 15 minutes, we didn’t even have to get out of the car for our departure stamp from Argentina and they didn’t check any of our bags!

Now for an early dinner and a very early night as we have to get up at 2.30am to go to the airport to fly to Rio for CARNAVAL!

Posted by sdyzart 13:52 Archived in Argentina Tagged waterfalls water honeymoon travel argentina south_america iguazu_falls southamerica

Food Food and More Food


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The ferry to Uruguay only took 1.5 hours and then we were in Colonia, a small colonial town on the Rio de la Plata estuary. We had 4 hours there and as soon as we walked out of the terminal we saw a place to hire golf buggies, so of course that’s what we did. We were told there was a giant Colonia sign at he end of the town that was worth seeing…umm we would argue against that having driven there. What we came across was a small white sign, which we climbed all over and then took inappropriate photos with #colon. We drove all over Colonia checking out the sights, inc an old bull fighting ring and then returned the buggy and took to exploring by foot.

It is a very small town and the beautiful old part was only a few streets, but they were lined with giant trees and cobbled stones and randomly lots of old abandoned cars, which only added to its charm.

We had read that the best thing to eat in Uruguay was something called ‘asado’ which is a giant plate of mixed meat and ‘chivito’ which is a giant steak sandwich. We finally found a place that sold asado and it was a buffet – so we thought we were on to a winner. Turns out we don’t really like asado, it was weird cuts of meat, all a little bit burnt and it all tasted the same. In hindsight I think we made the error going to an all you can eat buffet place. The hunt will continue at dinnertime.

At 3pm we have seen every inch of Colonia and so jumped on to a local bus to drive to the capital, Montevideo through the lush green countryside. The drive should of taken 3 hours but the bus broke down and we were stuck at the side of the road for ages, so it was more like 4 hours.

So our first impressions of Montevideo was it was dirty, felt unsafe and we didn’t like it. It also didn’t help that we found a giant cockroach in our bathroom, so that had me questioning if spending 48 hours in Uruguay was really worth it just because I wanted another stamp in my passport and Lynden another shotglass??? Well after the appalling dinner we had I decided no it had not been worth it.

After a good night sleep we walked around Montevideo with fresh eyes and actually it wasn’t too bad. Definitely not our favourite place but the city has some beautiful parks and impressive architecture. We headed to the main square after breakfast and joined a free walking tour of the city. Once again we retained very little information about the history of Uruguay other than that Jose Artigas (a national hero in Uruguay) has his ashes buried under the Plaza de Independence and they are guarded by 2 soldiers at all times.

We finished the tour at a great foodie market, where we made our second attempt at trying a local delicacy and this time we had success!! Lynden managed to get a ridiculously large chivito, which he devoured. The restaurant also served ‘medio y medio’ which basically means half half – its sparkling wine mixed with white wine – it was super sweet – so we ordered a bottle! I don’t know why we then decided to order dessert, but it was another local dish that we NEEDED to try called ‘chaja’, which is sweet sponge cake, meringue and a ton of cream. It was definitely worth it!

After lunch we stupidly listened to our guide and went to see the ‘giant RAINBOW’ Montevideo sign, which was a 10 min taxi ride across the city. Well guess what, it was not giant and it was not rainbow! It was white and the same bloody size as the Colonia one. So after 1 photo we found ourselves searching around for something else to do in the area, but apart from walk along beach there was nothing else to do.

We eventually found our way back to the harbour to take the ferry back to Buenos Aires. We had business class tickets (as it was only $20 more) which really only bought us access to a lounge (which was packed - clearly everyone did the upgrade) and a glass of sparkling wine, everything else was the same as economy…so we got exactly what we paid for. Also all passengers had wear shoe protectors during the crossing, at first we thought maybe because the carpet was new, but it was filthy and old. Not a single person questioned this madness, everyone just put them on and we all walked around the ferry looking like idiots together!

Next stop an early morning flight to visit Iguazu Falls for the day and to travel into Brazil!

Posted by sdyzart 18:47 Archived in Uruguay Tagged water boat honeymoon travel south_america colonia montevideo asado southamerica food_porn uraguay chevito chaja

Reunions


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Another silly early start as we headed to the airport to catch a flight to Buenos Aires and to be reunited with SO many awesome people from our Peru tour. Unfortunately we didn’t get the same welcome as our Mendoza hotel, our BA hotel said we could store our bags but to come back at 3pm to check-in. So bags stored we headed out to check out a market that runs every Sunday and this thing never seemed to end – it was easily 6 blocks long with stalls on both sides of the street and little side alley extensions jutting out along the way.

2 blocks in, our noses picked up the scent of something amazing and lead us astray into a colourful little food court with a giant bbq that was flame grilling huge cuts of steak and chorizo sausages – of course that was lunch sorted! Bellies full and back in the market we ended up bumping into Karolina and Brigitte from our Peru tour and made plans for pre-dinner drinks that night.

It was such a nice evening and felt just like the beginning of our tour, after pre-drinks we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we were also joined by Viktoria, Holly, Shane and Niamh. After a ridiculously huge dinner and being 2 or 3 drinks in, most of us were ready for a night out on the town. In all honesty I don’t remember the finer details after that point, there was $2 bottles of champagne, card games, a live musician, vodka red bulls, maybe a few shots, a very long taxi ride to the other side of town, more drinks and then a 2 hour queue outside to get into a club which never moved and at around 3am we gave up and came home.

The next morning I woke up drunk so Lynden sent me back to bed and off he went out for lunch to say goodbye to Shane and Niamh who were flying home to Ireland the next day. Once I had slept off the alcohol we headed out to explore a place called La Boca, which was a colourful district across town. Walking around there was not a single normal coloured building, every one was multi-coloured and many decorated with weird looking mannequins (we never did work out why). Our evening was very low key – Lynden had a giant calzone, which was easily enough for 3 people and probably contained a 1kg of cheese.

For our final day in Buenos Aires we had a very lazy morning (which has been a rare treat this honeymoon) and then got ourselves all dressed up for a fancy lunch at a steak restaurant called Don Julio. We both ordered steak, but different ones and unfortunately (through no fault of my own), the waiter might have given me Lyndens steak by accident, but we have no way of proving that for sure. Anyway my meal was bloody beautiful and Lyndens was average. Luckily the chocolate mousse and a glass of port turned his frown upside down.

After lunch and a quick visit to the local market to stock up on dulce de leche with Brigitte and Viktoria, we freshened up and headed out to catch a tango show. We were driven just outside of the city to a place called Senor Tango and were taken into a giant theatre that looked like a cross between Moulin Rouge and The Greatest Showman. Dinner was average but the show was amazing, firstly it started with 2 white horses being ridden around the stage and then there were flames, an orchestra (which included a guy playing an accordion), lots and lots of tango dancing, a weird mannequin accordion player floating about the stage, a guy that we thought would never stop singing and a spanish version of ‘don’t cry for me Argentina’. It was such a fun way to finish our time in BA.

Next stop a ferry ride for 48 hours in Uruguay!

Posted by sdyzart 07:19 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains parties markets honeymoon city party argentina tango buenos_aires south_america steak mrandmrs don_julio

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