24.12.2010 - 29.12.2010 30 °C
We arrived in Rio on Christmas Eve and sighed with relief as all our luggage appeared on the carousel. We checked into our hostel and signed ourselves up for Christmas lunch the next day which some of the other guests had volunteered to prepare.
Christmas Day in Rio was a lazy affair, waking late and heading to Copacabana for a morning swim. We followed up with a great lunch (Turkey and trimmings), Secret Santa, more beach, some volley ball and more swimming. I've attached photos of the lunch - they don't do it justice and it looks small relative to the feasts at home but at the time it really felt like Christmas – kudos to our English chef Martin.
On Boxing Day we walked from Copacabana to Ipanema Beach to visit some local hippy markets and spend some time at the beach. The weather was overcast and incredibly humid but that didn't stop people packing onto the sand, with the number putting Bondi to shame.
The following day we met up with some friends from Uni for a tour covering some of the major sites – Cristo Redentor, the Sugar Loaf and the tiled steps in Lapa. The weather can make or break your sightseeing in Rio and others at the hostel had forked out $40 to take the train up to Christ the previous day only to see the inside of clouds and little else (not even the statue). We were lucky and reasonably clear skies gave us a great view over Rio from the hills.
The obligatory shots of the Christ Statue and Rio are attached in the gallery and you can see from these why the geography makes it such an amazing location for a city.
We decided on our last day to go hang gliding (our Christmas present to ourselves). The quality of the ride seemed to be dependent on the wind which was quite variable. While I got a great ride across the valley, Jess was only in the air for 6 or 7 minutes. That said, you really feel like you are one of the birds and it is definitely something I would do again. We forked out the extra money for the photos from the wing-tip and some of these are in the gallery.
Rio was great and although the weather could have been slightly better you have to roll with the punches. Our New Year's destination is Florianopolis (Floripa for short) which is a beach strewn island a leisurely 18 hour bus ride south down the coast. Next update from there.