Girl from Ipanema: Phase 5!

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Ipanema Beach!

Our time in Rio wasn’t all Olympics- we made sure to do lots of other fun things, like check out the Leblon area (SO chic, and very, very expensive!), as well as Ipanema Beach. Sadly we didn’t spend a lot of time (or swim) at Ipanema beach, as we had kind of tacked it onto an already busy day, but it was quite lovely all on it’s own to chill out at.

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Christ the Redeemer

That morning, we had booked tickets to go see Christ the Redeemer. A foggy day but it really turned around and worked out fine in the end. Quite the sight- I highly recommend going!

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Me with a foggy Christ the Redeemer

And the view…Amazing!

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Just stunning….This is where the they did the Olympic rowing too.

And then we went straight to the Jardim Botanico- and wow, so many monkeys. I loved the common marmosets the most, and the capuchin monkeys kind of scared me a bit. Crazy little guys, there were so many! I was like, oh look, a monkey…and Ian said, there’s never just one monkey…He was right!

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Many capuchin monkeys

They were very close to us!

13995602_10100602801628726_7934411114911010201_oMarmosets too!

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Cute but weird up close.

And some very active lizards in the desert section of the Jardim.

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Olympic dreams: Cross-country! Phase 4

Back to the plan- we watched cross-country out in the Deodoro area, which seemed like quite the trek out but after learning how far boxing was? I was counting my blessings it was only subway + train ride away! (and a long walk).

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RIO!!

The cross-country course was extremely technical and thrilling. There were quite a few falls by horse and rider but no serious injuries and everyone was up and walking immediately. This is important because the eventing community has come under fire the past few months and years due to a number of serious falls at a series of events, some resulting in the deaths of horse or rider. It is very frightening, and I was soooo glad that while the course was very challenging, it was not a killer.

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The course (it was hard to decipher)

That aside, I was in AWE of the skill, bravery and sheer balls these gutsy horse and rider combos had. WOW. Just WOW. Go you guys! It was stunning to watch and just so amazing. I loved watching so much I was super sad to leave and wanted to come back the next day…

Just amazing.

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So much power!

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Spooky? Huge? No problems!

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Keyholes…no biggie

Wow!!!

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Just love it.

These guys are consummate professionals!

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Into the other water like no prob.

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I loved this, it is a churrascuria picnic table en rodizio!

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We interrupt this Olympic broadcast to say…

I love my pony! We had our first real jump lesson- with tiny jumps- back since our vacay and Oats came back great, if a little half-assed haha. He could NOT be bothered with tiny jumps, so he sauntered over them the whole time.

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Me from literally three years ago.

We worked over a small gymnastic (remember our last gymnastic experience- it did not go well- and this one was great) and then over a small course a few times. He was lovely! My eye kind of sucked and I made a few ‘non choices’ when it came to distances (yes-no-yes-no…go!).

Oh well! I have work to do on that clearly. The positives include my dad watching Oats go in a lesson for the first time in forever, and he remembered when Oats was a total shithead. Now, Oats looks like the easiest pony in the world to ride, and it’s nice to have people see him go completely nonchalantly…Ah…

Also positives- the jumps were tiny, rode tiny, and didn’t excite me at all. Hmmm!

So far, so good for our days back in action. Whoop! Two great lessons in a row, I am a greedy girl (a nice but extremely tough dressage lesson with Karen on Tuesday, and then my jump lesson with Nicole on Wednesday). Oats gets a well-deserved rest day today and I get to go shopping to the Sitka sale. YAY! *after work, of course. Blah…

Olympic hopefuls: Rio here we come! Phase 3

After our trip to Sao Paulo de Morro, it was back to Salvador via boat-bus-boat for a half day. We went back to the restaurant we loved so much (the Zulu lounge) and had another fish moqueque for dinner with cairpirinhas- love them!

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The aqueduct in the Lapa district.

Then it was back to the airport bright and too early to head to Rio. We had an Olympic soccer game that evening to attend! The trip to the airport was a little more stressful than we anticipated at 5am…There was an all-night party on the highway median and it was wrapping up as we drove to the airport. That meant there was gridlock traffic the whole way to the airport- a good hour drive on a regular day! That meant we were scrambling (again) for our flights. Just once I’d like to get to the airport in Brazil with looots of time.

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A very fun restaurant area near our air bnb.

Anyways, we made it fine to Rio and met up with my family. They were staying a few subway stops away from us, while we had an air bnb in the Lapa district- super grungy and distinctly ‘bummy’ with lots of homeless people, but at night really comes alive as a hot nightclub/bar district. The parties went until 6 a.m. most nights!

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The Olympic torch!

We zipped off to the Maracana Stadium for the evening games- we had missed the first games as we got in to Rio too late, but were able to catch the Argentina- Algiers match. No big surprise, Argentina won, but it was a tense 30 minutes…

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Briefly thrilling!

It was a fun game, and a bit hectic getting back to Lapa but all in all, not a big deal.

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Me and my dad at the game.

Some shots of Lapa- the aqueduct now has a tram that goes on top of it, that you can ride for free to Santa Teresa, a cool rooftop neighbourhood.

 

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Enjoying a different view via the tram on the aqueduct.

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The tram! So cute and free!

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The aqueduct in early evening.

Brazil Journey Phase 2: Sao Paulo de Morro!

After landing in Salvador, we hopped the ferry boat to Sao Paulo de Morro (St. Paul’s Hill) a super touristy little island that is for people-only, no cars!

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Way out in the tidal flats

Well that was the plan, except it is winter and the Atlantic was so rough we had to cut sideways to a closer island, hop into vans and drive for two hours, to get into another boat to get to the island. It took closer to 3.5 hours than 2 on the open ocean! Argh!

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Boat ride #2

Once we were on the island, everything was so close. We walked to our hotel, and it was super nice, a boutique hotel. Things on the island are NOT cheap- quite pricey compared with Salvador. It was much quieter than we anticipated, apparently the island as  reputation for being quite wild, a real party town in tourist months. We had our pick of restaurants- there are like a zillion, and they seem to offer a lot of Italian food for some reason hahah. We had lobster two days in a row! Can’t complain about that!

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View from our hotel…Amazing.

The draw there is the beach- it is enormous, there are three of them and we had the beach right outside our room. There is also a big zipline, which I didn’t do because I am quite frankly afraid of heights!

Swimming was fun- because it is winter, the rainy season also happened and it was hot and sunny, then pouring rain, then hot and sunny, then pouring rain. Made for an interesting day!

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The town square.

We ate acai (yum!!) frozen gelato, chips and bought beers and generally just had a fabulous time. It’s very easy to like the island Sao Paulo de Morro, I can say that! We even waded out to a tide pool that has a ton of very friendly fish- it’s like snorkeling except you don’t even have to snorkel, haha.

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I loved the breakfast our hotel had- it was AMAZING. Best spread of the stay I think! I would definitely recommend visiting the island- the trip out can be a bit of a pain in the butt, but you it’s worth it.

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Tranquil.

Trip of a lifetime: Phase 1- Salvador!

We began our grand adventure in the city of Salvador. We flew to Sao Paulo first, spent the night and flew out to Salvador in the morning. I was a bit leery, it was chilly in Sao Paulo and I was like, I left our summer in Canada for this?

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Looks just like LA eh? Beachfront in Salvador Bahia.

The scenery outside Salvador is really interesting- the airport is very far from the old city centre, like 1 hour and a $50 cab ride, which we were not expecting! There were favelas as far as the eye could see, horses tied to grassy medians, a bit grungy and just, well, so different.

We were staying in the old town, the heart of Salvador as I like to think of it. It’s super cool, huge cobblestones that are extremely treacherous to walk on, the streets are very steep, and there is not much traffic. The hotels were fantastic- we stayed in two and they were sooo neat. Older buildings, well kept, fairly quiet and clean and just so funky!

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Pelhourino district

We stayed in the Pelhourino district, home to Brazil’s first elevator (Elevador Lacerda)- which is huge and connects the lower-town with the upper town (Pelo).

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Elevator just to the left.

The food was fantastic- we ate fish moqueque two days in a row!  It is a traditional fish stew with dende oil and shrimps. We also drank extremely strong caipirinha; a drink made of muddled sugar, limes and Cachaça. I could only drink one!

There are a lot of street vendors, but you can politely tell them to go away and they will leave you alone. The streets are deemed to be a bit dangerous at night, even in the very-touristy Pelo district, so be aware. We didn’t have any problems, but hotel doormen, taxi drivers, and restaurant staff were all warning us to be careful….So they were very wary and looked out for us a lot.

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SALVADOR!

The market was a bit blah, but the beach, the fort, the restaurants, the drinks, the hotels and the scene & heat is not to be missed!! Salvador has a little bit of everything– you won’t regret visiting.

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Stand-up paddleboard surf comp

We spent 2 half days in Salvaor–landed there from Sao Paulo, and then the next day we took a trip to Morro de Sao Paulo, and then came back from Morro de Sao Paulo to finish our stay in Salvador before zipping off to Rio for the Olympics. I definitely recommend checking out the Pelo district and enjoying one of the many fine, cheap restaurants in Salvador.

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So long, Salvador. At Barra lighthouse.

The history is fascinating, and the architecture/elevator is not to be missed.

 

Back in action! I LOVE Brazil

Yep I’m back from my vacation in Brazil to watch the Olympics. Don’t have a ton of time (aka catching up on work…) yet to recap but in short- it was AMAZING. I love Brazil, the Brazilians were fabulous and the food, the food was sooooooo good. The Olympics were a sight to be reckoned with. I felt so sad leaving the cross-country area, I didn’t want it to be over.

I took so many photos too! Coming soon! Will split it into days.