Or in Portuguese…Feliz ano novo!
We started New Year’s Eve with breakfast on the roof terrace, shared with the monkeys 🙂 the weather was absolutely scorching hot once again – 32 degrees by 9am.
We joined a free walking tour to see some of the older and more touristy areas of Brazil, but in all honesty it was quite underwhelming. The old Portguese colonial buildings are beautiful, but they are few and far between, with drab and deteriorated sky rises dominating the streets. Escadaria Selarón was particularly spectacular, although with the crowds and 37 degree heat radiating off the tiles it very quickly became unbearable. The top of 125m high stairs seemed like a bad place to potentially faint! Afterwards we joined our tour guide and 2 Canadian tourists for a traditional Brazilian lunch of rice, beans, pork, greens and a strange flour dish that none of us were really a fan of.
After attempting to wash off all the sweat, we got ready for NYE to be spent on the famous Copacabana beach. For drinks we went both ends of the spectrum- starting off with celebratory champagne and then onto rum which cost the equivalent of 50p for half a litre…something I would live to regret the next day. In Brazil it’s tradition to wear white at New Year, as a sign of peace for the coming year. Many large cruise ships moored up in the vicinity and approximately 2 million people headed to the beach to see in the New Year; the atmosphere was absolutely nuts. But the fireworks were even better! Unfortunately while jumping the waves 7 times for good luck in the coming year (another Brazilian tradition), Amy had her phone stolen, so our night was cut a little short. But it was an amazing experience none the less!
Thanks to the aforementioned rum and a poor nights sleep, New Year’s Day morning was spent in bed and then in a heavily air conditioned shopping centre. Afterwards we headed to the famous Sugar Loaf mountain cable car which gave us all the fresh air we needed to clear our heads and wake us up! The views from the top were breath taking and well worth seeing. Afterwards, we headed to a spot at Ipanema beach famous for its amazing sunsets. Unfortunately we have been pretty unlucky with the weather in the afternoons/evenings and all we saw was cloud!
We also visited Maracana stadium where the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held. Although there wasn’t really much to see, it was nice to see something a little different, and in a different part of Rio. In the evening we took a walking tour around the favelas in Rochina and attended the favela funk party, which was an incredible experience. The area certainly doesn’t deserve the stigma it receives; other than some firecrackers thrown by children – which I’ll ashamedly admit I first thought was gunshots – I felt safe the whole time. Carlos, our tour guide was born and bred in the favelas and we fell in love with him immediately. He had the sweetest heart, was wise beyond his years and had admirable dreams that stretched much further than his location. Walking around the streets with one of the locals we felt was a really important way for us to do this tour, and Carlos confirmed they’re much greater welcomed than the tourists viewing the slums from their blacked out jeeps as if the settlement is a zoo. Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera so can’t share any photos with you, but I would really, really recommend doing this tour if you visit Rio! They’re doing some really good charity work in conjunction with Loughborough Uni at the moment; if you’re interested in the company’s tours or what they’re working towards check them out here.
There are 3 certainties I have learnt about Rio that I’ll share with you:
1. You are never more than a few metres away from the strong smell of sewage, and sadly, someone sleeping rough
2. You will hear the cries of ‘agua, agua, agua’ every where you go from people pushing around ice-cooled polystyrene boxes full of drinks (which is sometimes gladly welcomed)
3. Brazilians do actually wear havianas! Hardly surprising as they are the equivalent of about £4 here, and so bloody comfy. I’m literally like a child in a sweet shop.
Love, Lottie xx