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BRAZIL | Sunday, 8 February 2015 | Views [273]

Our final Latin American country and a big one - BRazil.So big that we only had time to cover a small bit of it. We started our Brazilian adventure at the Iguazu Falls crossing over from the Argentinian side to the town of Foz Do Iguazu just a short hop away.So the next day, sunday,saw us getting a local bus out to the visitor centre for the falls.Being the weekend it was a very busy place and so had to queue for at least 3/4 hr to get an entrance ticket.Next was the shuttle bus to the actual falls.WE were lucky to have a bright sunny (but hot) day which emphasised the majesty of the falls.This side gave us an overall view of the falls we had been walking on top of,on the argentinian side.Gary said this was the best experience of the trip for him.After seeing the falls it was hard to leave the next day to go SE to Florianopolis on the Atlantic coast (o/night 19hrs on the bus).Just outside Foz Do Iguazu the bus was stopped for a customs check by humans and sniffer dogs.Lucky for us our bus continued on.Once in Florianopolis we took a local bus to the little fishing village of Bacca Da Lagoa. Very quiet,laid back seaside village with a long wide sandy beach .There were even board riders out but the swell was not big.In this area we hiked over a big hill to a nearby deserted beach,bussed it to another small village and took some time out on the local beach.After a relaxing time here it was off to the big big smaoke - Rio de Janeiro. Of course that involved 18 hrs overnight again but the difference this time was we could say it was our last long haul bus trip. Joy as being of a mature age it certainly took us time to get over each stint in the bus.Rio is of course big and bustling and we stayed in the Lapa district of the city - a bit run down but cheaper for us than the beachside areas.WE spent time in Rio wandering around the city and also went out to the famous beaches - Copacabana and Ipanema. Gary actually up to waste deep in the sea at Copacabana but not for me as that Atlantic ocean was just too cold.We also took in a local soccer match at the stadium where the world cup final was played. Unfortunately not a big crowd but certainly a few goals.We experienced our worst sight seeing trip here and that was to the Christ the Redeemer statue. We had to queue 1 hr in the heat just to but a ticket,then another 1.5 hrs in a queue just to get the shuttle bus up to the top where the statue was. Once there it was so crowded it was a fight to get a photo of the views and statue.In retrospect we should have gone in the afternoon when there was far fewer tourists queuing etc.In Rio we got around easily using the underground metro and the occasional bus.After 4 days here it was time to visit a more relaxing place.WE organised a shuttle bus and boat transfer to Ilha Grande - an island just off the coast about 4 hrs south.WE stayed in the main village area - quiet (no cars),sandy streets and even though it was touristy it was not too crowded.It is a big hilly island and so did a couple of hikes. One day we hiked the 3 hrs there and back to a lovely white sandy beach (Lopes Mendes) and spent time lazing on the beach.Whilst on the island we celebrated Gary's birthday with a seafood meal (local catch of course).We reluctantly left here after 3 days for the last stop of our trip. Another boat/shuttle bus to Paraty about 4 hrs travel time from Ihla Grande. Paraty is an old Portuguese colonial town. on the coast with many beaches nearby.So here we wiled away our last 4 days with a bit of walking  and lazing on the beaches nearby and exploring the old town. Our departure city was Sao Paulo about 5 hrs away and I'm afraid we got the easy option to the airport - a shuttle bus direct from Paraty to the airport for our departure on day 260. Our next stop London via Zurich. AS I said before I dropped the tablet in Rio and thank goodness for the smart phone as not only was it our camera by this stage but we then had to rely on it for all our communication over the internet - ie e-mails,booking accommodation etc.Brazil was a bit harder to travel thru language wise because they speak portuguese and after 8 months of spanish we struggled a bit.But lucky for us each hostel we stayed at in Brazil had at least one english speaking local. Also the phone translation app came in handy. It would certainly be a big change to get to England and have english spoken all around us. So Adios to Latin America.

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