Brazil: Phase 4 – R&R

When I was 16, I travelled to Brazil as part of a World Challenge Expedition through school with 13 other pupils and 2 of our teachers. I found my diary I wrote at the time recently, so have decided to edit it, remove some of the 16-year old me random thoughts, and write it up. To travel there, we had to fundraise the £2770 per person in the 2 years leading up to the trip and then plan and organise everything ourselves while we were there, supervised by our 2 teachers.

11/08/2003

After finishing our Main Trek, we were a bit annoyed that we had to get up early to get the bus to Rio de Janeiro. At least we could sleep on the bus. Somehow, we managed to forget to pay the hotel so they ran after us and caught us before we got on the bus.

Rio de Janeiro definitely beats São Paulo. São Paulo reminds be a bit of Berlin- even when the sun shines on it, it still appears a bit grey and dull. Once in Rio, we caught a public bus to our hostel in Ipanema. We’d had a lot of people tell us that Rio is dangerous, but it was hard to think that when it looks so friendly. The only hassle we had was from people selling us things, which we’d had everywhere.

We arrived at the hostel and first impressions were good. Until we found out that we would be sharing rooms with strangers and that it wasn’t R$40 per room, but per person. Which was still quite cheap, but not what we’d been expecting! A few of us rang around some other hotels to see if we could change the next night, but we couldn’t.

Everybody’s morale was a bit low because we only had R$1500 (£300) left of our budget. Jane got permission to cash in the airport tax, which we didn’t need anymore. Mike and Jane (teachers) decided we needed cheering up so booked us into a posh restaurant- an all you can eat meat place for R$17.50 PP (£3.50)- a huge amount per person compared with our usual standards! Some people tried to persuade the bouncer on the bar next door that we were all over 18, but it didn’t work so we went back to the hostel.

12/08/2003

I was leader again today and the plan was to go to Sugarloaf Mountain and then Christ Redeemer. We saw a place which sold football shirts on the way to the bus, so we dived in there for a look. They wouldn’t budge on price though, and they were expensive, so we left it.

We got to Sugarloaf at around lunchtime, so caught the cable car part way up, ate lunch and then carried on to the top. The view was brilliant- you could see all the islands in the sea and could see for miles.

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Photo: View from Sugarloaf Mountain, looking towards Christ Redeemer.

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Photo: Copacabana Beach.

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Photo: View from Sugarloaf Mountain

Back at the bottom, we got the bus to Christ Redeemer and paid for the train up rather than walking. This view was even better than Sugarloaf. You could see right along the coast. We had to walk up some stairs to see the actual statue, which were steep, but it was so worth it.

It was huge. The view from the bit with the statue of Christ Redeemer is pretty much 360 degrees, and you could see the Serra dos Órgãos National Park, where we did our acclimatisation trek a month ago, about 1.5 hours drive away. We stopped there until it was dark and the lights came out, which made the whole city look like it was moving. IMG_5472

Photo: View from Christ Redeemer

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Photo: Team Photo at Christ Redeemer.

Johnny managed to lose his train ticket, but Becky persuaded the guard that he’d already been through and had come back to look for someone else who had gone to get food. Which wasn’t a complete lie, someone who looked like Johnny had gone back through the barrier, but it was actually Dave (his identical twin).

We ended up having an expensive Italian meal for dinner, with really nice puddings. I have to say, I’ve missed pudding and chocolate! We found somewhere on the way back to the hostel to buy football shirts.

13/08/2003

Our last full day in Rio, and Brazil! It didn’t feel like we were going to go home though. A few of us went to the Rio Sul Shopping Centre on the very edge of Copacabana. There were 4 levels of shopping, which we definitely don’t get back home. We spent loads of our own money because we had a lot left, and it’s not easy to change back into pounds. Then we walked back along Copacabana beach. We wanted to go swimming but we’re not allowed to without Mike or Jane there.

We were told that Mike and Jane would be cooking for us this evening but no-one seemed to be around. At 5, Jane appeared and told us to get ready and took us out for dinner, which was really nice of her. After that, we went to a football match in the Maracanã- São Paulo v Rio. We decided to support Rio. They won 2-0. They had samba drums which was great to listen to.

14/08/2003

We woke up quite early and packed while some of the others were still asleep. Andrea and I went for a walk along the beach- I paddled a bit and Andrea sunbathed. Then we had to check out of the hostel and get to the airport. Now we knew we were going home, we just wanted to get home. We flew from Rio to Madrid, where we had quite a long lay over. It was early in the morning in Madrid when we got there, but the middle of the night for us. So we were shattered but couldn’t really sleep. Jane and Mike made us do video diaries while we were waiting, where, looking back, we all look pretty knackered. Our next flight was to Heathrow, where we had one last team photo before some of us were picked up and the rest flew back to Manchester. I slept for about a day when I got back, but I found it hard to sleep alone, since the last 5 weeks I’d been sharing a room with at least 2 other room mates! It was also weird having more clothes to choose from- we’d taken 2 pairs of trousers, 2 vests, 2 t-shirts and a pair of shorts for the 5 weeks away and that was pretty much it! I loved my time away and definitely want to go back to Brazil at some point in the future.

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Banner Photo: Getyourguide.com

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