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Tuesday

The day after favela fun

Day 9: Rio de Janeiro

The morning after the night at the favela party, we had breakfast while recollecting and laughing over the antics of the night before.  Afterwards, I went round the corner and down the street to a travel agent to arrange a way of journeying up to the city of Salvador on the north east Brazilian coast.  The travel agents were English speaking, which was just as well, as I did not want to accidentally book myself a one way ticket to El Salvador due to an inability to get people to understand my basic Portuguese.

Ten minutes later, I strolled back to the hostel and settled once again at the breakfast table occupied by the rest of my friends.

"Mate," began Carl.  "Come travelling with us to Florianopolis and Argentina?"

I couldn't have looked more crestfallen if I tried.  "But," I stammered.  "I literally just bought my ticket to Salvador!"

Salvador was in the complete opposite direction to Florianopolis in the south, which ruled out the idea of maybe going to Salvador first, and then onwards to Floripa to rejoin them.  At nearly 260 Brazilian Reals (£110/$150) for the ticket, it wasn't the kind of money I could just forfeit and forget about either.  Would they even still be in Argentina by the time I planned to arrive there, or would they have made their way up to somewhere far off like Columbia by then?

"Argh!" I practically wailed in frustration.  "Why didn't you guys ask me this ten minutes ago?!"

Oh well.  We put it down to 'one of those things that's just not meant to be', which I personally didn't buy into, but there was nothing that could be done about it.  The non-refundable tickets in my hands had me departing from Rio the very next morning, and my friends were leaving for Florianopolis the day after, so we made the most of the time we had before we set off on our different itineraries.

With breakfast out of the way, it was a toss up between bussing over to either Cristo Redentor (The Christ Statue) or Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf mountain) for some sightseeing.  All things equal, I would have favoured the seeing the statue, but seeing as it was surrounded by unattractive scaffolding for some routine maintenance, we opted for Sugar Loaf instead.

Sugar Loaf
We rode two cable cars up to the top of the mountain, where there was an outdoor cafe, restaurant, and most bizarrely, a full-fledged high-end boutique jewellery shop selling pretty pricey diamonds.  How many people venture all the way up here for the scenic views of the city, and then spontaneously plop down several thousand grand for some gems on an impulse purchase?  I mean, really?

You can only really appreciate how beautiful Rio is when looking down on the city from a good vantage point.  It's actually quite weird how a sprawling metropolis as large as this managed to flourish in such an awkward, cramped strip of coastline, trapped by numerous mountains on one side, and flanked by the Southern Atlantic Ocean on the other.  It definitely lends to its natural beauty.
 
Looking down towards Rio

The Statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooks the city (in the background, to the left on top of the mountain)

Later that day, in the evening, we headed over to an English pub close to our hostel, not out of a yearning for the familiar, but for a two for one offer on drinks we'd heard about on the hostel rumourville.

It's funny.  Just a few days ago, after saying farewell to my Sao Paulo friends, one of my top worries was travelling in alone and not meeting people on my own wavelength.  It didn't help that virtually all of my travel buddies from my first week had been on the tail end of their journeys and had left to head back home, one by one.

I could never have foreseen randomly striking up a friendship with perfect strangers in a hostel common room while I was reading a book on a rainy Sunday evening, being asked to join them to a party in the favelas, and then touring the sights together the whole of the next day. 

It showed me that there really wasn't any point in worrying about the future - especially when travelling - as so much is out of my control.  I've had an indescribably amazing time in Rio, but now it is time to move on.

Honestly speaking?  My only hope is to meet even more chilled out people in Salvador and beyond.

All of us on top of Sugar Loaf

3 comments:

Balanced Melting Pot said...

Wow, this reminds me of the Teleferico here in Caracas. You get a similar view from the cable cars - and yes, it's a lot easier to appreciate the city from there ;-) Was it cooler on top?

The Backpacker said...

Oh yes, noticeably cooler. And also while we were up there, the wind was blowing in from the Ocean and we were enveloped in clouds for a bit which was pretty cool!

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