22.01.2008 - 11.02.2008 35 °C
Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.
We left for Montevideo in Uruguay early Monday morning. A relaxing 9 hour drive through the Argentinean and Uruguay countryside. We arrived just after dark, checked into our hotel and went out for a famous Uruguay steak. The next day we headed for Punta Del Est, a famous international beach resort, jammed with Brazilian and Argentinean tourists, 1 hour east of the capital Montevideo.
Sunflower fields in Uruguay
We had heard good things about Punta and were planning on staying there for a few days but after taking a look around the city and checking out the beaches, we decided one night would be enough. With average beaches, heavily overpriced restaurants and hotels and a median age of 60, it was more like a retirement town than a beach resort. Maybe we were there at the wrong time of year.
We got an early start the next morning and headed straight for the Brazilian border and onto Peurto Alegre, Alex’s home town. Brazil, the final country of the trip, it was a definitely a surreal feeling for both of us to have made it so far. What had started out as an idea that came from a random conversation in Austin, had ended up being becoming a reality, and we had done it in just 3 months. It was great to finally be in Brazil and it was time for a much needed holiday from the holiday.
The night after we arrived I got to experience my first Brazilian BBQ. Alex’s dad cooked up a storm and served up the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I have never eaten so much meat in one day; I think we almost ate an entire cow. I don’t know how they do it.
We spent a couple of days in Peurto Alegre, before going to Alex’s parents beach house in Shangri-La (an hour north), for some further relaxation and to psych our selves up for carnival in Florianopolis, a beautiful island just off the southeast coast of Brazil. It was great to take some time out, eat some good food and do absolutely nothing for a while; what a fantastic week.
We took the long way through the country side to Florianopolis, to avoid the traffic jams and to bypass the roads that had become impassable due to a week of heavy rain. By the time we arrived late on Friday night, the party had already started and it didn’t stop until we left, 5 days later. Fourteen crazy Brazilians sharing a beautiful 5 bedroom beach house, over looking the harbor.
Carnival is all about drinking and partying till sunrise and then relaxing on the beach until sunset. People don’t even go out here till after 1am, so the nights are very long. We had a couple of house parties, went bar hoping and on the last night of carnival we went to the DJ Tiesto concert; definitely a crazy few days.
Girls in Florianopolis
To be honest it wasn’t exactly what I thought of when I pictured Carnival in Brazil. I imagined crazy costumes, parades, fireworks and people partying in the streets, but apparently that is only in Rio. And being so close to Rio (1000km) it would have been a shame to miss the real Carnival, so I convinced Alex and Jamie to drive to Rio to make it for the last night of Carnival and the Champions Parade.
Surrounded by so many beautiful beaches, green hills and uniquely shaped mountains, Rio really is a beautiful city. As soon as we arrived we went straight to Copacabana beach. With powdery white sand, huge waves and the tiniest bikinis you have ever seen, I can’t think of a better place for an afternoon of sunbathing and people watching.
Ipanima beach, Rio
Church across from our hotel in Rio
Later that night we decided to brave the crowds and head out for the carnival parade. We bought a few beers and the cheapest tickets we could find from one of the many scalpers in the streets and went to the specially built carnival stadium/street where the parade is held.
The champion’s parade is the last parade of Carnival and shows the best 6 teams that had competed in the previous week. With over 4000 people per team it takes more than one hour for each team and their floats to go through. The parade itself lasts for around 10 hours and it is an incredible display. With over 50,000 people watching the atmosphere is fantastic, especially in $5 seat section. Where you get drunk, cheer for your team and throw things at the people in the $1000 per seat section. It wasn’t safe to take my camera, so sorry no pictures, but check it out on the internet if you get a chance. Definitely a great night and well worth the 1000km drive.
View from the top of sugar loaf mountain in Rio.
Yesterday we hiked up to Cristo Redentor, the statue of Christ on Corcovado hill overlooking the city. We nearly died after the 35 degree, 3km hike up to the statue but it was definitely a fantastic view.
Cristo Redentor in Rio
After the hike we went back to the beach to cool off with a quick swim before heading to the local soccer stadium to watch Flamengo vs Fluminense, two rival teams from Rio. With 5 goals scored in the 2nd half and around 45,000 screaming locals, it was a great game to watch and the atmosphere was electric, literally. As an added bonus we got to see one of the most impressive lightening shows I have ever seen. Half way through the game the sky turned black as a massive thunderstorm rolled in. A bolt of lightening hit the stadium and the lights went out, delighting the 45000 fans.
Today we did some more sight seeing around Rio and people watching at the beach and tomorrow we are considering hand gliding off one of the cliffs overlooking the city. Then we head further north to Salvador and onto the Amazon.
View from the 500+ meter cliff we jumped off.
Me and my flatulent hang gliding instructor.
Jaime getting cozy with his hang gliding instructor. At least one of them is smiling....