By Nikola Nedic
So I left Fortaleza by bus and embarked on the 20 hour overnight journey to Salvador. The bus was full, except for the one seat next to mine, the only ´Gringa´on the bus. From brilliant sunshine, I arrived to an overcast Salvador (the closest point in South America to Africa). Here was the first time I travelled alone but on the first evening I explored the older part of the city called the Pelihrino with a group of people from the hostel.
The following day I was supposed to go on a boat trip to some of the islands and visit the beaches, but I awoke to torrential rain, so instead I visited the cultural centre which is situated in the old slave house at the port. The following day had even more rain so I took a stroll to the lighthouse (via a beauty salon) as there´s not much to do when it rains. The people at the hostel were all very nice, but there weren´t many guests. I had a 6 person dorm on my own for two nights, but no complaints. On my final evening, I went back up to the Pelirinho for a typical ´Bahia´theatre performance.
Here I saw some unbelieveable
capoeira performances. For most of the evening I had my mouth wide open because the performaers were so incredible. There were also some samba performances which were also quite impressive. Having missed the famous Olodun drummers on he Tuesday night, I was so happy to have heard and felt a youth drumming band practicing in the cobbled streets. The vibrations go right through you and they are so enthusiastic. Another nice suprise was to find a free concert by ´Radio Africa´where typical music from all over Africa was being played by the live DJ´s. Here, I had one of the best caiprinhas in Brazil and filmed the bar tender making them for future reference! From Salvador I had a really early flight to Rio de Janeiro!!! I was hoping for some sunshine to make up for Salvador, but no..... it was really, really overcast.
I checked into my hostel in Ipanema, which is a nice, safe area of Rio. I took a stroll around the ´Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas´which seemed really popular with local runners and cyclists. That evening I was expecting a
friend from the UK to arrive. A French guy who I
me through work came to visit for a two week holiday. Whilst waiting at
the bar, I got talking to a couple of English boys from Greewich, who were cousins travelling for 6 months. When Francois finally arrived, the four of us went to a local bar, and got a taster of Rio night life.
With so many attractions in Rio, we were on a tight schedule, however, once again the rain fell getting heavier all day! We took a walk along Ipanema beach, a beautiful sandy beach with giant waves. Starving hungry and wet we treated ourselves to a nice lunch. Turns out one between two would have been sufficient. After lunch we headed to the hippy fair near the hostel. A very bohemian experience, and so tempted to buy so many things! The evenings entertainment was a party at a favela. We boarded a mini-bus along with other Gringo´s, which took us to a favela. However, we were quickly queuing to get into a warehouse alongside locals. I had a really amazing night, which carried on until 4am. The music was amazing, and was great fun watching the locals dancing. With a slightly disrupted
journey home, which
involved us getting on the wrong bus and refusing to
pay the man some money, then getting kicked out at a roundabout, we managed to get a taci to the hostel. As it was so nearly sunrise, a few of us headed to the beach. It was so incredible to see the sunrise, and a nice change to being on the beach in anything but rain!
As it was our final day in Rio, Francois and I made a decision to so something touristy. So in some of the heaviest rain I have been out in, we took the train to Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer statue). With poncho´s well and truly on, we were so disappointed at the top to not even be able to see the statues head, let alone any of the view across Rio! Apparently we were very unlucky to have had such awful weather, but it could only get better.
The next day myself, Francois, Dan and James (the cousins) got a transfer across to Ilha Grande, about 3 hours by taxi and boat from Rio. It was supposed to be paradise, but we arrived on yet another overcast day. The
on the beachfront, which grew depressing as it was not beach weather. But in the evening, the hostel put on
an all you want buffet with an awful lot of meat! With a few beers, and no where to go, we ended the evening with a game of travel scrabble.
The following day was nice and sunny, and spent time on the beach. We also had some great food and many beers. There is not much to the island, as there are no cars there. But we managed to create a couple of adventureus hikes to the Islands beaty spots. Such as the waterfalls, which after a gruelling 2 hour hike, ended in the most dismal waterfall I have ever seen, and we still had 2 hours to get back whilst it started getting dark! Another hike was supposed to lead us to one of the most beutiful beaches in Brazil.... well, let me tell you the first beach was nice, but the second beach was exactly the same, and not really paradise either. Slightly disappointed, we still forced ourselves in the sea for a swim.
So Ilha Grande was not as magical as we´d have liked, but
still a lot of fun
and a lovely place to visit, even though we didn´t see any monkeys!
© Nikola Nedic