On the tour we also met a few more people, Justin, another professional traveller, this one a Kiwi, on his third round the world (RTW), Sylvia, a Slovakian kids clothes designer and Olivier a French civil engineer who had just started their RTW in Rio. Before heading out the previous night we had arranged to go to to the beach with them.
The weather was not appropriate for the beach – for starters there was no-one on the whole beach except for us – it was cold, overcast and very windy., I got in and played in the waves anyway - I needed it. I suspect everyone else agreed. This all came to an end fairly abruptly when it started raining again, so we all headed back to the hostel for siestas, popcorn and movies. Perfect!
On Sunday we went into the centre to have a look around with Olivier, Justin and Sylvia. Interestingly these seem to be the only people, along with us, who ever actually leave the hostel for purposes other than alcohol imbibing. I'm not suggesting that Claire or I are the most culturally enlightened of people but I think an important part of travel is actually seeing the cities you are in rather than hearing about it from the inside of a hostel.
I digress, in terms of our stroll around Rio's CBD the closest comparison I can give is walking around the city of london from Brick Lane back to St Paul's on a sunday morning. There was no-one around and nothing open but that was ideal as we wanted to see some of the old buildings and the more modern architecture. This we did, passing through a modern art exhibition in the Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil which was very good.
We came across an area with a very strong smell of wee and more than its fair share of homeless so we jumped in a metro (mode of transport 20!), besides, it was raining again and Sylvia want going to hold out for much longer without some sustinence
We ended trying to to find the Ipanema Hippy fair, which is basically a market of touristy souvenirs, although of a slightly higher standard than usual. It was a little different the day we were there as they were celebrating 40 years of the fair and had a live band playing Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zep and Pink Floyd. It was made all the more interesting by the large group of aging hippies in various states of inebriation jumping around in front of the stage, clearly reliving 'that day in '72'. Claire bought a summery dress and I bought a guarana T-shirt to match my inka cola one from Peru. Seeing as it was still raining it all made no sense at all.
We wandered around a little more, taking in the green suburb of Ipanema and then came across a packed bar full of locals watching the football. We went in and joined them. I say in, I mean we ordered some beers and leant on a table just in from the rain. There was no 'in' just as there was no toilet for the gents. They had fashioned a hand basin into a urinal of sorts and you had to make do with that. Thankfully no more was needed and the girls went to a restaurant to pee. The local team, Flamengo were playing and were 1-0 down. The atmosphere was a bit subdued. Flamengo scored and the place erupted into song and dance. Another goal each and we left as night was falling and we felt like strolling back. They lost 3-2 and Claire and Sylvia also got lost on the way home, engrossed in their girly chat as the boys speeded up the pace to allow for toilet duties to be performed. Only a bit lost though.
We played pool and caught up with the rest of the crowd, it being the our last night in Rio. We thoroughly enjoyed Rio, partied on down and met lots of good people. We were both starting to really enjoy Brazil as a consequence, the people are so warm and fun and the language, almost like a cross between Spanish and French was becoming less of a barrier than it had felt initially. However, our early twenties are long gone and this is very much a town for getting up the next day and doing it all again. That's a bit much. Time to hit the beach properly. Florianopolis further South in Santa Catarina state was calling.