A Travellerspoint blog

Ilha Grande

Paradise island in brazil

sunny 30 °C
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We had arranged a transfer to the island of Ilhe Grande. A stunning, car free paradise with 102 beaches off the coast of Brazil. The bus that took us there was quite funny. We had a crazy little brazilian driver who first of all read the newspaper through all the Rio traffic and then spent the rest of the trip dancing and singing along to Nelly Furtado and other 10 year old songs. At the boat dock he took off his shirt and laid down for 20 minutes of sunbaking.

After our small boat chugged along across the channel to Ilhe Grande "Big Island", we checked in at our hotel and then met up with Bobby, Freya and Jason from our hostel in Rio for lunch. We sat at a table in the sand and had beautiful seafood meals. After lunch we walked along the coastal path to one of the beaches in the town bay. It was paradise. We swam and took silly pictures before heading back as the sun set.
We met up again for dinner and foolishly decided on terrible restaurant. We had the world's worst waiter, even worse than the stoner waiter at Creekbread in Whistler. He left half way through the order, forgot everything, it took over an hour and a half for the 4 identical dishes to come out, oh and it him over an hour to apologize. Thankfully Jason speaks portugese and was able to hassle and argue with them and get us a good discount.

Day two was an amazing day. We organised a boat trip around half the island, stopping in at a Green Lagoon, another little beach, a helicopter wreck, the Blue Lagoon, a stunning seafood lunch at a restaurant on another bay and then two more little beaches. To sum it up, the day involved, lots and lots of swimming and snorkelling, relaxing on the speedboat with beers, and taking many pictures. At night we run into Mandy and Hayden, an aussie couple from the hostel in Rio and had dinner with them.

Our last full day we hiked 2 hours up and through the jungle to the south side of the island to one of the best beaches in the world. It was an exhausting hike. The first section was incredibly steep and incredibly sweaty. Thankfully we were in the shade of the jungle, not the burning sun. On the way we passed two beautiful bays with their stunning beaches but we pressed on until we reached Lopez Mendes. A stunning and untouched surf beach, with no development whatsoever, once rated the 3rd most beautiful beach in the world. Our pictures do not due it justice . Christian hired a surfboard and spent the whole day pounding out on the waves while I went swimming and slept in the shade. It was very relaxing. The water was perfectly clear. Eventually after many hours we headed back to the boats at the bay and caught the boat back to town while watching the sunset.

Our last morning, we headed to the beach for a quick swim before heading out on the worst boat ever!!!! It broke down 20 minutes out of town and here we are stuck.

Our hilarious bus driver

Our hilarious bus driver

so excited to be at the beach

so excited to be at the beach

our disappointing meal <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

our disappointing meal :(

Ville do Abraao - the main town of Ilha Grande

Ville do Abraao - the main town of Ilha Grande

Lagoa Verde....the green lagoon

Lagoa Verde....the green lagoon

Paradise

Paradise

Diving off the boat

Diving off the boat

Us at the Lagoa Azul

Us at the Lagoa Azul

Chillin on the boat

Chillin on the boat

Amazing sunset

Amazing sunset

beaches on the walk to Lopez Mendes

beaches on the walk to Lopez Mendes

Lopez Mendes

Lopez Mendes

At Lopez Mendes

At Lopez Mendes

Christian learning to surf

Christian learning to surf

With his surfboard

With his surfboard

At Lopez Mendes

At Lopez Mendes

Relaxing on the return boat from Lopez mendes

Relaxing on the return boat from Lopez mendes

Sunset from the boat

Sunset from the boat

Stuck on our broken down boat

Stuck on our broken down boat

Posted by awowchuk 14:15 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Rio de Janiero

Finally some sun and sand again

sunny 30 °C
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We flew into Rio before the sun had risen but as we looked down we could see a city that was definitely awake. The highways were jammed with cars and the lights from houses flickered as we flew past. As we got off the plane we were greeted by warm, thick, smoggy air. After a short wait for immigration and our luggage and a bit of taxi driver dodging we took a bus to our hostel. The aiport was on an island to the north of Rio which meant our drive to Leblon in the south took us right through the heart of the city. We passed a few favelas on the way into town, some up on the hills, some right next to the highway, only slightly obscurred by high plastic barriers. We saw vultures on the river and pigs rooting through garbage! Our bus journey took us through Centro, the city centre, and more working class neighbourhoods before we reached the more touristy areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. These areas seemed a lot nicer but the majority of houses here were still heavily protected with large steel gates and security cameras (a remnant of Rio's more dangerous past, but we did not know this at the time!). The bus dropped us right outside the hostel which definitely eased our nerves. We weren't able to check into the hostel when we arrived but they had breakfast ready for us and we were able to leave our bags by the reception. After a bit of breakfast we headed down to the beach which was only a block away.

The beach was beautiful, our end of the beach was dominated by a giant mountain-sized rock over looking the beach. Favelas were built on both sides of the mountain. The contrast between the sea and the mountains and the modern buildings of Leblon and the hickle-di-pickle-di buidings in the favela was incredibly striking. We walked up the beach to Ipanema. Anna said it reminded her a lot of home but seeing as it was nothing like anywhere else I'd ever seen, I spent most of my time watching the surfers and the steady stream of ladies of all shapes, sizes and ages wearing rather scimpy bikinis. We caught up on a bit of sleep that afternoon before heading into Leblon for drinks. We ended up at a bar called Jobi, where we drank caiparinhas and beer and watched the Real vs Dortmund match. We found an all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant for dinner and even enjoyed a couple of chocolate pizzas! We then headed back to the hostel for a few drinks where we met a few Aussies, Hayden and Amanda, who were embarking on a similar trip to us after spending 3 years in London and Bobby and Freya who were coming to the end of their South American adventure.

The next morning we ventured slightly further afield to Copacabana. This area was more touristy than Ipanema and Leblon and closer to the favelas. It was also a public holiday, so the beach was absolutely packed. The road behind the beach was lined with the most amazing sand sculptures. We spent a couple of hours at beach, but then had to head back to the hostel because we had booked onto a tour for that afternoon. Our tour took us to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Santa Teresa, the Sambadrome, the Snoop Dogg Stairs and finally Sugar Loaf mountain.
As we arrived at the top of the statue, it was entirely surrounded by clouds. Gradually the clouds cleared so we could see all as far as the airport and Centro in the North, Copacabana and Flamengo in the east and Ipanema and Leblon in the south. We could also see Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio to the south west. We took several of the customary arms-out photos in front of the statue before heading back down into the clouds. Our next stop was Santa Teresa, a bohemian neighbourhood up on a hill in the middle of the city. Historically it was populated by wealthy coffee merchants, but saw an influx of people from the lower-lying areas of the city following the yellow fever epidemic of 1850. Since then the area has been prone to landslides, which has reduced property prices, attracting a range of artists and musicians, who have created the Montmarte-like feel that exists today. From Santa Teresa we headed down the hill to the Sambadrome, where the carnival parade takes place every year. The arena was designed by Oscar Neimayer and sadly feels dated and abandoned when empty.
From the Sambadrome we travelled to the Esacadaria Selaron, popularly known as the Snoop Dogg Stairs, after the staircase was featured in one of his music videos. The staircase is the work of a Chilean artist called Jorge Selaron. In what became his life's work, he covered the 250 stairs in a mosaic of over 2000 tiles. As the work gained worldwide acclaim he received tiles from all over the world and he constantly evolved the staircase until his death in january. From the steps we got back in the minibus and headed back across Rio to Sugar Loaf mountain, a granite and quartz monolith that rises straight out of the water at the mouth of the bay of Guanabara. We caught a couple of cable cars high up to the top, and arrived just after the sun had set. The view from the top was absolutely incredible! Check out the photos below!

At Ipanema beach

At Ipanema beach

Towel seller on the beach

Towel seller on the beach

Copacabana

Copacabana

christian at christ the redemeer statue

christian at christ the redemeer statue

the view out over sugarloaf

the view out over sugarloaf

Looking out over Rio

Looking out over Rio

Christ statue....its big

Christ statue....its big

Looking out over Santa Teresa

Looking out over Santa Teresa

Snoop Dogg Stairs

Snoop Dogg Stairs

Rio at night from sugarloaf

Rio at night from sugarloaf

Rio at night from sugarloaf

Rio at night from sugarloaf

Posted by awowchuk 12:29 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

New York

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

sunny 23 °C
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We arrived early morning in New York absolutely exhausted, from the chaos in Vancouver and the little sleep we had on our flights. After a shuttle into our hostel in Chelsea district and failing to checkin yet we headed out to exhaustingly explore. Our first and my primary sight I wanted to see was the High Line. A park designed by Field Operations that utilised the meatpacking district abandoned elevated railway. It is a wonderful bridge kilometres long (and currently being extended) with a paving and planting incorporated into the old railway tracks. We were both very impressed.
With me in charge of the map (and a better sense of direction) we continued to the Chelsea markets, an upscale, refurbished market with boutique food shops/ restaurants. It was so cool; with beautiful refurbished brickwork and awesome food. We then wandered through the meatpacking and west village districts, loving the brick townhouse streetscapes.
We made our way via the metro to Ground Zero to see the memorial. We queued in the heat for ages to get a ticket and then to get into the site. As it is still a construction zone, the control it heavily. Security and police everywhere. It is a beautiful monument though. So sad and poignant but lovely they commerate it.
Although still exhaustingly tired we changed pace and got the metro (after I proved I have a far superior sense of direction) to Yankee stadium in the Bronx to see the Yankees vs Bluejays. This was such a thrill for sport obsessed Christian. We had seats right up the top, just to the right of the catcher and it was still pretty good vision. We got right into it with hot dogs and beer and probably being the only people cheering the Bluejays. It was a close game and we sadly lost 4-3, but it was so much fun being there.
We left the game at the bottom of the ninth to beat the rush onto the metro. We dragged ourselves home and then out again to grab some dinner before crashing into a deep sleep for 12 hours.

Day 2 involved a quick stop in Times Square and then walking through central park. Central Park in spring is lovely. There are people everywhere doing all sorts of activities from running to sleeping.
We ambled through the park to the enormous and extensive Metropolitan museum. We explored the ancient egypt area, american furniture and the armoury before we were museumed out! It was a pretty phenomenal collection.
With aching feet we caught the subway to the Nolita, Little Italy, Chinatown, SOHO area where we walked around this curious blend of spaces. We ate pizza as wandered through Chinatown and window shopped lots of small artsy boutiques, cheap chinese shops and expensive designers. After 2 hours there we needed a drink! And thus found ourselves a little bar (with 15 TV's...necessary of course) and rested our feet. We then wandered back down Bleecker St in West Village; our favourite district, and found ourself a boutique bar where Christian foolishly bought an absinthe based beer, and then had to buy himself another one when he realised it was horrid.
We treated ourselves to one nice meal in New York, at a cool Italian restaurant in the meatpacking district. I had the worlds biggest pork chop and Christian a lovely lasagne and some nice wine. Christian then kindly gave me his hoodie for the walk home (he made me write that to show how much of gentleman he is) where we gladly slept.

Anna at the High Line

Anna at the High Line


The High Line

The High Line


The High Line

The High Line


Ground Zero

Ground Zero


At the Yankees game

At the Yankees game


Yankees vs Bluejays

Yankees vs Bluejays


Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium


Christian at Times Square

Christian at Times Square


Central Park

Central Park


Anna at the MET

Anna at the MET


Hot Dogs outside the MET

Hot Dogs outside the MET

Posted by awowchuk 05:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

We say goodbye

And the adventure begins

sunny 15 °C
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And so the trip begins.

We packed up our lives in Whistler, our home away from our homes. The place we had to shovel snow and say "how ya goin?" all the time to guests but also got to meet amazing people and ski as much as our bodies could handle.

Our journey started with a hire car to Vancouver, driving on the wrong side of the road and then some very hectic days in Vancouver doing a ridiculous amount of washing and getting all our last things ready for the next adventure. Massive thanks to Kari and Ross for letting us wash and keeping all our gear for us until our return.

We drove ourselves to the airport (was absolutely loving driving again) and then made the 2 uneventful flights from Vancouver to New York via San Francisco.

We have no idea what to expect really but are so excited about the journey ahead. The plan is to fly from New York to Rio de Janiero and then work our way back up through south and central america up to Vancouver by sometime in September..... lets see how this goes!

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Posted by awowchuk 18:53 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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