Back to Porto Alegre: beautifully homemade sweets, a breathtaking view of the city and a couple of more days to explore!

On our last night in Porto Alegre, the first time, João and Mari (João worked with James at Red Hat) very, very generously offered us to stay at their home for our second visit. We were absolutely flattered and excited to be arriving to a beautiful apartment with hot water, a washing machine (YES, YOU READ THIS RIGHT! WE COULD DO WASHING!!!!), and most importantly a place that really felt like home.

We caught a taxi from the airport and were warmly greeted by João at the gate of their apartment block. Going up to the 19th floor we quickly popped our bags down and chatted for a few hours about our experience at Iguazu falls and what was planned for the upcoming days. While chatting we were spoiled with some beautifully home-cooked sweets made by Mari and OMG they were amazeballs! We started with Pao de Queijo (Brasilian cheese bread), followed closely by a slice of Negra Meluca - “crazy black woman cake”. We had Escondidinho de Frango – the delicious Brasilian version of chicken pie, Casadhinos which are small shortbreads filled with sweetened guava, the cheese used in the pao de quiejo (I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s delicious), guava paste and mortadella with slices of mozzarella. We had been completely spoiled, and then spoiled more with a couple of beers; it really felt like we were staying at the Hilton.

João's view

João had taken the day off from work Friday, he and Mari decided to take us on a bus ride to the beautiful city of Gramado – a colonial style city with a lot of heritage, beautiful buildings and scenery. We arrived off the 2 1/2 hour bus trip into Gramado at around 11:30am and caught another bus to visit a roadside restaurant called Café Colonial. A café of what we’d expect in Australian terms, it was not. A Degustation of an enormous amount of deliciousness and a never-ending amount of wine, it definitely was. Polenta chips, deep fried cheese sticks, deli meats, jams, breads, pickles, cakes, quiches, koftas, jellies, desserts, fruit slices… SO MUCH FOOD! And maybe a little wine in between ;). It is quite literally an all you can eat place, if you run out of anything you can ask to have more, including the wines (evidently, Dee was pretty pleased with this). By the end of it all, we were all so stuffed with food, we couldn’t finish the meal and had to go for a walk to deal with the food comas that we had managed to get ourselves into. For anyone travelling to Gramado, ever, there are apparently other places that do the colonial style food that we had, but really this place was by far the best value for money for the ridiculous amount of delicious food we had tried to eat.

Food at Colonial Cafe

The group in front of Colonial Cafe

Gramado has some beautiful architecture, mostly early European style buildings designed for cold places. We passed a few museums on our walk, including the train museum, and then passed a lolly house. James was accosted by some of the characters out the front and suitably dragged into having photos taken (it’s been a difficult time trying to get James interested in having photos taken of himself but we’re getting there slowly!). After photos of the quirky shops, including Dee’s new home ‘Da Fazenda Queijos & Vinos’ – the wine and cheese farm, we caught a taxi to Canela Parque do Caracol, home to the Canela Waterfalls. Although, not as spectacular as the Iguacu Falls, these were pretty amazing. We walked around the park and were able to see the falls from many different angles, including the river that lead to them. Unfortunately, due to a small landslide we weren’t able to walk to the bottom of the falls as there was a tree across the 1000 stair walkway. The view from the platform was pretty special, we were quite happy to spend the afternoon walking through the reserve and chilling out. We were fortunate enough to see one of the large rat type animals, neither of us can remember what it was called, and neither of us got a decent photo of it.

Wine and food place

Characters in the street

A waterfall in the hand is worth two in the...

Following Canela, João and Mari took us back into the Gramado township. I say town but there are over 30,000 people living here and then a massive tourist population on top of that. We headed toward Lago Negro, ‘Black Lagoon’, and took a leisurely stroll around the lake. There was the option of paddling in one of the swans but the walk was certainly going to do us well seeing as we were all still very full. It was really quite peaceful here, the path is lined with flowering bushes and small spots to sit and watch the world pass by the lagoon. We finished our walk around here with an ice-cream and a walk back into the main part of town to watch the sunset over the gullies behind Gramado. We made our way to the cathedral in the middle of the town square to check out the architecture, then in the undercover vine area for a few drinks before heading back to Porto Alegre for some well deserved sleep.

Ducks nears the duck boats

Black lagoon

Dee looking fabulous

Saturday morning started off early with a trip down to the local fruit markets where we bought coconut sweets called Docinhos – sickeningly sweet but extremely delicious. There are a tonne of flavours to choose from, including pumpkin, chocolate, dulce de leche, plain coconut… the list goes on! We then were taken to one of the major shopping centres in Porto Alegre to escape the heat for a while and to meet up with Leo. We wandered around looking at all of the different stuff that we don’t have in Australia, then sat ourselves down for another massive meal: this time it was sushi – Dee got ridiculously excited, having craved sushi for at least part of the five weeks we’d been away. We chilled out for the afternoon at craft markets near João and Mari’s home, dreading the need to pack our bags again but it had to be done. We had organised to take an overnight bus to Montevideo, which left at 8:30pm, so off to the bus station for some sleep we went.



Porto Alegre has been amazing! We can’t wait to come back and visit again, unfortunately it probably won’t be on this trip but hopefully it won’t be too long!

Go see all the photos from Gramado and the ones from Porto Alegre

Hugely fun night: check. 3 hours sleep: check. 5:30am wake-up to pack bags again: check. Passports: check. CAFFEINE!!!

While in Porto Alegre we stayed in an Air B&B room for a few nights, the owner of the apartment offered to take us to the airport to save us the hassle of organising a taxi early in the morning. We arrived, checked in, sorted out some coffee then waited for our plane to board, heading to Foz Do Iguacu via Sao Paulo. We could have flown directly to Foz Do Iguacu but the two hour stop over saved as a few extra $$.

Arriving into Foz we found a taxi to take us to our hostel, which was more like a hotel. There was a king size bed, our own bathroom and a huge shower with both hot water and decent pressure! Rather luxurious for a hostel, on the downside we still haven’t been able to do laundry. We unpacked and headed for a quick trip to the shops to get ingredients for dinner with the evenings special being chicken/lettuce burgers. We sat and chatted to a few of the other guests and worked out how we were going to visit the waterfalls the following day.

Monday morning we got ourselves up early for breakfast, and then caught a bus to the Brasilian side of the Cataratas (waterfalls). All of the buses here are the same price regardless of how far you’re going; it makes transiting on public transport very easy. Arriving at the National Park we paid for our entry ticket then jumped onto a double-decker open top bus toward the walking trail to see the falls. Some rich people stay in a hotel right across the road from the waterfall, but they also get all of the fun encountering the Quatis, they appear to be some form of descendant of a raccoon – these things are vicious and apparently have Rabies. Thankfully, neither of us were in danger, and if we were the 6 needles each for the Rabies vaccine would cover us.



We could see the waterfalls from where the bus dropped us off; they were beautiful and much larger than we had anticipated. The waterfalls have two sides, the river and falls separate Argentina and Brasil – the Brasilian side isn’t quite as big as the Argentinian side. We made our way down the walking track taking lots of photos on the way, there were millions of butterflies and a fairly obviously, a lot of water. We opted not to take any of the tours here but there were options to do boat rides, rainforest walks and canoeing. Finishing up for the day we made our way back to the hostel for a few drinks with the other guests and dinner. We were pretty knackered by this point and needed to be up early Tuesday to go to Argentina.

Looking at the Devil's Throat from the bottom




Something we have noticed regularly here is that everyone runs on “Brasilian time”. We’d organised ourselves to be up, ready and packed for the bus pick up between 8:30 and 9:00am. At 9:20 the bus arrived and we were ready for another packed day at the waterfalls, this time in Argentina. Hopping on the bus we instantly recognised two Australian girls we’d met at our hostel in Florianopolis, pretty coincidental given how many tours run to the falls, and how small our tour group was. We started the tour by going across the border into Argentina, then heading to the ‘Three Frontiers’, the point where Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay meet at the joining of the Iguassu and Parana rivers. From here we made our way to the Iguazu Falls National Park, a maze of paved walkways to see the most spectacular views of the waterfalls. On our way through the walks we were spoilt with many different and beautiful picture opportunities and stunning weather. We opted to go on a ten-minute boat ride, which gave as an up-close view of the falls (literally right underneath them up-close view), and took the opportunity to get photos with the rainbow.

The Argentinean obelisk

The Iguazú river joining the Paraná

Us in front of a waterfall


The Argentinian side of the waterfalls shows the divide between Brasil and Argentina, at the Devil’s throat – the most amazing view of them all. We caught a train for 1.5km and then walked out on a bridge crossing the river at the top of the falls, the bridge would have been close to another 1.5km with the view at the end being the largest part of the waterfalls. At the top, there is a large set of rocks that sit in underneath the gushing water, creating a line in the waterfall – this is the border of Brasil and Argentina. We could easily rave all day about how amazing this place is, we had an amazing time and would quickly come back to see the falls again and walk a few more of the tracks.


Falls from the boat

Our visit to the Argentinian side of the waterfalls happened to conveniently coincide with our wedding anniversary. We decided for the evening to head out to Puerto Iguazu (the town we were staying in for the evening) and find somewhere for a quiet romantic dinner. Puerto Iguacu doesn’t have much in it other than tourist shops, but it does however have some nice little restaurants and bars. We stopped into our first place for a couple of beers, and then headed up to the hill across a 6 road intersection, to Quita Peñas. We started with a quick mojito, we had then realised happy hour hadn’t started so moved onto a bottle of wine. The wine was much cheaper in Argentina than in Brasil so we took advantage of being able to have some! Following the wine we had some more cocktails – I think it was a caipirinha slushy but the details are a little vague here. At the end of the night we ordered a platter of meat and cheeses, and when paying our bill discovered that the bar had given us our first cocktails complimentary, as well as our last ones – our bill for the night was less than $40aud: winning!


Devil's throat

Wednesday morning rolls around and whilst Dee has necked herself, again, on the clothesline strategically hanging across the bedroom with the hope of some of the clothes getting dry, James has managed to regain some coherency after the amount of alcohol the night before. We packed our bags and had to be checked out by 10:00am, an almost impossible task since we’ve now started going to bed closer to 1-2am and the bag pack takes a little longer hung-over. We wandered into town and helped ourselves to a few beers, a little further up the street than we’d adventured the night before – the original idea was to find somewhere with decent coffee, however upon closer inspection of the menu a 1L of Stella Artois was cheaper than the 250ml black coffee…the beer was surely the obvious choice! It was also much easier to communicate with people in Argentina than Brasil, James is semi-fluent in Spanish and Dee can speak a little bit – enough for both of us to get by and not have to ask for everything to be repeated…well kind of.

In the afternoon we got ourselves organised to catch the bus back across the border to Foz do Iguazu (the Brasilian side) via the border. Both of us were fairly happy that we managed to make our way to the bus station and find our bus without too much drama. Unlike the way to Argentina, where we gave the driver our passports and they sorted out the stamping and whatnot, we had to get off the bus while it waited so we could get our exit stamps from Argentina, then hop off again at the Brasilian border and wait for the next bus. Apparently these buses leave every 30-40mins but we were now back in Brasil (only just) and running back on Brasilian time… An hour and a bit later the bus arrived to take us back to the ‘Concept Design Hostel’. We’d originally thought it would be a good idea to stay at the same hostel so we could organise to get laundry done, but alas! We were stuck with dirty laundry again; thankfully this hostel was a little fancy and had a decent kitchen to make up for our lack of clean clothes – the knife situation for cutting was a little interesting but all was great!

Unfortunately Thursday meant it was time for us to leave Foz Do Iguacu, we caught the local bus to the airport and encountered another of the crazy bus drivers along our route. When we got to the airport we waited, and waited, and waited (we also might have got their a little early, slightly paranoid that we were going to miss another flight and worried about the language barrier when going to check in). We waited at the gate for our flight, then four minutes before our scheduled boarding time the gate number changed, the flight had been delayed for a total of an hour which was leaving our connecting flight from Sao Paulo back to Porto Alegre a little hairy. We made it to Sao Paulo and then realised that the flight to Porto Alegre was leaving from the same gate, on the same plane! Luck was definitely on our side ☺

Go see all the photos from the Brazilian side and all the photos from the Argentinean side

We’ve arrived into Porto Alegre! No bus dramas and warmly welcomed by Leo, another of the SEGs from Red Hat.

Leo helped us buy our bus tickets to Uruguay for later, and then get to our accommodation in Porto Alegre - this time an AirBnB apartment, as there are very few hostels with double rooms available. We sorted out all of the important stuff then headed for a walk into Cidade Baixa, a suburb near the centre of town which co-incidentally also has Porto Alegre’s bar strip. We were given a local tour of the attractions along the way, passing parliament, the theatre, the Catholic Cathedral and a couple of very ornate governmental buildings. As we had arrived in fairly late it was time for us to get some dinner, and of course try some of the local beers. We had a few espitinhas (charcoal barbecued kebabs), polenta chips, and some beer and then walked a little further only to stumble upon a pizza place. We ordered simple pizzas this time around; sans catuipiry or whatever the terrible cream cheese is called, and enjoyed conversations and probably a few too many beers/caipirinhas.

View of the city

A photo of a photoframe of us

Brasil, running on Brasilian time also means that things don’t happen at sparrow’s fart in the morning. Both of us are finally getting to a point of sleeping in, in the mornings and going to bed a little later than the normal 8:30pm for Dee and 10pm for James. On Saturday morning we rolled ourselves out of bed around 8:00am or so, and got ourselves together enough for a coffee, then a day-time city tour from Leo. We were shown around the old buildings, the view across the river/lake thing (no-one can seem to agree which it is), the boob statue and then taken to a Churrascaria for more meat than either of us could eat! The churrascaria had a massive buffet of vegetables and some meats, then people walking around with more meat, cheese, breads and a couple of more cuts of meat. Unfortunately we were too full to try all of the different kinds of meat, but we did give it a fair go! During our meal the churrascaria held a Gaucho style dance show and traditional style music, it was a lot of fun. After eating our weight in meat we decided to walk to the market place to take a look around at the local produce and collectables. Unfortunately we were a little too full to try anything there, but it was definitely tempting. Heading back to our unit we decided it was time to take a little rest and let our poor stomachs come to terms with how much they needed to digest.

Is this statue of boobs?


Us having meat

Gaucho show

Later in the evening we met up with Leo again and made our way to the supermarket, and then over to João and Mari’s place (another Red Hat team member), being joined by one of RH’s kernel developers. We chatted about our trip so far and where we were heading to next… over some beers of course. The view from their apartment is amazing! By the end of the evening, with a little pizza and a few more beers, we were both exhausted, it was definitely time for us to hit the hay – realising that we needed to be up less than five hours later to pack and make our way to the airport for a few days at the Iguaçu Falls.

Porto Alegre crew

City at night

Go see all the photos from Porto Alegre

Floripa is where many Brasilians go when they fly for a beach holiday, and we can see why.

We started with our first domestic Brasilian flight, on Tuesday from the Rio international airport (not the smaller closer one), which obviously has been improved a bit for the World Cup and Olympics. Our plane was running on time, which was great, and they started boarding the priority passengers. Most of the way through that, something happened and the gate staff walked down the air bridge and took all the passengers back off the plane. Not understanding the announcement in Portuguese, after finding a staff member who spoke English, they said there was a problem with the “plane buffer” and they weren’t sure how long it would be. Luckily it must not have been too bad, since we started boarding 15 minutes later. Flight curse avoided!

After an uneventful flight to the Florianópolis airport, we went to the taxi counter, gave them the address, and jumped in the taxi. Something must have been lost in the translation or not passed on, because the driver wasn’t sure quite where to go. He understood which road the place was on, but not where, and it was a fairly long road. We spent about five minutes trying to and failing to explain we needed to go to the T intersection at the other end – but eventually persistence won, and he finally understood where to go!

When we arrived at the hostel, there were 10 or so people on the garden chairs and deck couches. The people running the hostel offered to cook us dinner if we wanted. They organise food every night for about R$20 ($7.50 AUD), you just need to let them know if you want to join them, and tonight’s cannelloni was a tempting offer. While we were in the kitchen on the hostel tour, we saw a very creamy sauce, so gave it a miss. Some of the other backpackers there said there was a food truck market in the Lagoa town, so we headed across the short bridge (past a few homeless and some dodgy looking people) and stopped to get a very tasty burger from a food truck. We headed back to the hostel and had a few drinks; we ended up going to bed fairly late, since our room was next to the deck and the noise carried very well so we wouldn’t have slept if we went to bed before everyone else.

Lagoa da Conceição

Wednesday morning we navigated our way to the local bus stop and went into the main city to look around. We had heard that the bridge to the mainland was quite nice, but when we got there it was a bit disappointing – just a bridge, like the Storey bridge in Brisbane. The CBD didn’t have much interesting in it, it was just the business, but we did accidentally walk past a bakery that Dee had seen in the Lonely Planet guide – amazing pastries! We wandered through the pedestrian mall and found a couple of useful shops, including a cheap shop to buy James a new shirt seeing as the last laundry had lost one. Making our way down to the Mercado Público (public market), we found it had a lot of nice looking restaurants, so we decided that it was time for a beer (or six). We swung by the supermarket on the way back to our hostel, and of course Dee, being as clumsy as she is, took a stack outside the restaurant trying to get back quickly to use the bathroom. Managing to scrape both knees fairly well, she was told by a British backpacker walking past that “shit happens don’t it”, and not offered much help when trying to ask for paper towel from the now closed restaurant. Patching up quickly with a bit of paper and some hand sanitiser it was time to make another attempt at heading back to the hostel for some proper first aid. For dinner that night we had organised to get the barbecue dinner at the hostel (the chef is Uruguayan), but it got changed to Arroz com Mariscos (seafood rice stew) late due to problems getting items from the supermarket – and it was amazing!

The city


On Thursday we went to Barra do Lagoa with an Australia couple who hitchhiked from Uruguay, two Belgian girls, and were met there by a Belgian guy who was leaving that afternoon. They all decided they wanted to go visit the nearby point saying it would take them 30-60 minutes, and instead we headed down to the beach to get some beers (notice a pattern?). About two hours later they got back and joined us for some more beers and lunch. The wind was quite strong, and a lot of people kept losing their beach umbrellas, a few ending up in the water. It was a nice relaxing day, although the beaches here just really aren’t as pretty as the ones in Australia, the water at this one was also quite cold!

Barra de Lagoa beach

Us at the beach

Once we were back at the hostel, we found out they had re-organised the barbecue dinner for tonight, however we had unfortunately already organised to go on a date night. Walking back into the Lagoa town, we wandered around for a while trying to decide what to have – our indecisiveness coming to the fore as usual. Eventually we settled in at Sabor Perú. Two Australians sitting in a Peruvian restaurant, in a Brazilian city whose name sounds Greek, reading a menu written in Spanish despite being a Portuguese speaking country, drinking a Belgian style beer – a win for multiculturalism! The food was delicious, definitely worth a try!

Peruvian food

On the way back to the hostel, we walked past a lady on the street corner making filled tapioca pancakes (kind of like a quesadilla), and we couldn’t say no – one filled with calabrese, cheese, tomato, onion and catupiry (cream cheese) for us! Ridiculously cheap too, at $8 reais ($2.50aud) we were almost prepared to have a few, except for the fact that we were full.

Friday morning was spent packing (as usual), and getting into the city so we could catch the eight and a half hour bus to Porto Alegre, along some nice coastline (and a few wind farms).

Go see all the photos from Florianópolis

Rio… The place with the Jesus statue, a mountain named after a cabbage, the girl from Ipanema and the Copacabana: the hottest place north of Havana!

Arriving at our hostel with another of the crazy bus drivers (not as crazy as the previous ones but close enough to), we were greeted by a dodgy elevator with a sign saying that it was out of order. We were told to hop in and go up, slightly worried that we weren’t going to make it up. Our hostel was on the top of a hill in lower Santa Teresa, overlooking the city and the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral, not a bad view from a hostel. We quickly made our way down into town for a food stop and into the supermarket; the locals (Cariocas) have a thicker and different accent to everyone else in Brasil, they are very difficult to understand. Rio is such a different pace to Paraty and Ilha Grande, we needed to have our game faces back on here!

View from the hostel down to the street

Looking out at the city

Thursday was Dee’s birthday, we started the morning with breakfast at the hostel; the standard in most of the hostels has been ham, cheese, bread and fruit with some pretty awesome coffee. Most have a sandwich toaster that makes the sandwiches even better. We’ve both been very happy with the fact that there is decent coffee in the morning. We decided to spend the morning going for a little walk and investigate some of the attractions in our local area. The first stop was the cathedral, which we later found out was based on the design of the Mayan pyramids and was built in the 70’s. The stained-glass windows inside were amazing and the inside was huge! We spent the rest of the day doing a bit of a pub-crawl, ending at the top of the hill for a surprise dinner at a seafood restaurant at the top of the hill in Santa Teresa called (Sobrenatural)[]. What a treat that was! Most of the restaurants have share plates as their starters (“Petiscos”), with both of us having had a bit of food and a few drinks during the day we decided to grab three of these; thinking they might be enough and if we needed we could grab a few more. Three was well and truly enough; we struggled to finish dishes of perfectly cooked octopus, mussel soup (with more mussels than you could poke a stick at), and perfect ceviche. Unfortunately, there were no food photos tonight because we were a little preoccupied eating and being a bit lovey dovey (sorry for the mushy stuff!). To cope with the mushy stuff we decided that during our time in Rio we would try to save a little money and have a few (or ten) home made caipirinhas, the cachaca is lethal! $3 a bottle is hard to pass up though, and limes at less than $1.50/kg are pretty hard to pass up… and surely having a huge amount of citrus with zerocal (the not sugar version of sugar here) is healthy right?

The metropolitan cathedral

The altar and stained glass

Enormous stained glass window

The few days we’d been in Rio it was disgustingly hot, and Friday was no different. We had decided to take one of the day tours around Rio to visit Christo Redentor, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Lapa stairs, the Cathedral with a quick stop in Santa Teresa. The bus collected us at 10:30am from our hostel, back down the freaky elevator (we had been asked to use the stairs at all other times), and then we took a tour around the roads of Rio to collect the other guests on our trip. There were people from a few different countries on our bus, including a couple of English speakers – Hooray! Our first touring stop was at Christ the Redeemer, via Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.

We arrived to a very cloudy mountain with a slight view of the bottom of Jesus; unfortunately it was not the clear beautiful skies that we had seen in all of the pictures. We did the best we could with what we had, but Jesus didn’t want to see us. We walked around the statue, marvelling at the lack of view but were able to read some of the efforts that went into the building of the statue. The materials were all from Brasil but parts of the statue were constructed in France and transported back to Brasil, a fair effort given it was built in 1931. While we were taking what photos we could there was a distant rumble of thunder, then a slightly closer one, and then a giant flash of lightning and a crack of thunder that we’re pretty sure may have caused embarrassment for a few of the tourists up there with us. Both of us managed to avoid any bodily functions escaping, though the hearts were going a million miles an hour! We decided at this point to start heading back down the eight or so flights of stairs back to the bus before the thunder and lightning got any worse, that, and our tour guide asked us to be back by a particular time to head to the next stop. There were a huge amount of people trying to escape the storm, many of us ended up toward the bottom of the stairs in a small tin shed; however, there were two people who were feeling a little precious about the rain, they’d stopped at one of the souvenir shops halfway down the stairs and stayed until it had calmed slightly. Consequently we waited an hour and a half for them to eventually come down so we could head to the next stop; our lovely tour guide, Isabella, was most unimpressed with them!

Christo Redentor in fog

Christo Redentor in fog, again

As we were coming down the mountain the storm had completely cleared up, and Jesus was visible – it seems to be the way when we’ve organised any kind of tour involving heights. Our next stop on the tour was the City Cathedral, which we’d already seen the previous day. We managed to get a nice photo in front of the building that wasn’t a selfie. Given the security and safety issues in Rio, using a tripod the previous day wasn’t an option, or asking a passer-by to take a photo of us. There will be NO selfie sticks on this trip. Not too far from the Cathedral are the Lapa steps or ‘Escardaria Selaron’, a beautiful set of stairs decorated with Mosaic tiles. The artist, Manuel Selaron, took it upon himself to renovate the steps that ran outside his house as a tribute to the people of Brasil. He began by using blue, green and yellow tiles, then as the steps became an attraction he continued to add tiles from places he had visited; it soon became a tourist attraction and people from around the world sent tiles for him to decorate the stairs. There are 250 steps in total, measuring 125 metres and over 2000 tiles. We were only here for a short amount of time, due to the earlier delays so we weren’t able to see the entire staircase whilst on the tour.

The steps

A tile from Australia

Dee on the steps

Following the stairs, we stopped by quickly at the top of the hill in Santa Teresa (near to our hostel). Santa Teresa was the original area the native Brasilians kept hold of when there were many attempts to invade Rio de Janeiro. The suburb of Santa Teresa has been preserved as much as it can be; the local government has restricted changes to many of the buildings and roads (similar to Heritage listings of cottages etc. back home). The stone-cobbled roads, albeit bumpy, have given all of the areas we have seen so far such character.

Us in front of a mural in Santa Teresa

Our final stop for the afternoon was the cable car at Sugarloaf Mountain. We took two cable cars toward the top of the mountain and got a beautiful view of the city. Because we had been delayed earlier in the day we were fortunate enough to see a little bit of the sunset and the city come to light. The mountain is 396 metres high, a fairly daunting height when you’re suspended in a container on a cable with 60 other people. The view from the top was absolutely stunning.

Looking up at the cable car

City view

City at night

Saturday we decided the weather was perfect for a day at the beach. We caught a bus to Ipanema, found a guy we could rent an umbrella and two chairs off, and then set ourselves up next to the picturesque water. After lathering on most of the container of sunscreen we settled into our beach chairs, we opted to buy two caipirinhas from one of the passing barmen on the beach – a perfect start to the day until the Portuguese misunderstanding kicked in. Instead of being $9aud for both of them (which was not a bad price), it was $9aud each – a total of R$50 reais… a very expensive way to start the morning given how cheap everything is here. We learnt from that mistake and decided that any more drinks were going to be bought off the guy we hired the umbrella off as we established with hand signals that he could take card payment at the end of the day. There are forever people yelling up and down the beach selling all sorts of random goods: bracelets, sunglasses, hammocks, unframed canvas paintings (who buys these from the beach??), drinks and food; including people walking with handheld charcoal brassieres to barbecue cheese (the kind of cheese used is similar to Haloumi). The water was a beautiful temperature, which we both took advantage of; Dee more so, being massively dumped by a wave and coming close to losing her togs. This led to sand being in places it shouldn’t be for days! The end of the day rolled around, the sun was setting and the beach was becoming very quiet. We decided to call it a day and head back to our hostel.

Caipirinha at the beach

Beach and water

Inflatables for sale

Beach and city

Charcoal brazier for Coalho cheese

We headed up to our beach man to pay and realised that in the changeover of wallets and everything in the morning, neither of us had bought any cards with us at all; we didn’t have enough money to pay the man! We couldn’t both leave the beach, so I stayed at the hut trying to explain to the man what was happening, while James caught a cab to and from Santa Teresa (around $45 reais each way). After battling through peak hour traffic, an hour later James was back at Ipanema. Because it was so late, and we were exhausted we decided to have the night off cooking and head to a little restaurant around the corner from the place we went for Dee’s birthday called (Espirito Santa)[]. We had the appetiser share plates there, and although they were nice, they were much smaller, not as good value for money and nowhere near as delicious as the ones the night before, it was still a nice dinner.

Sunday mornings in Brasil are extremely quiet, there are many older people being helped to church by friends or family and a few people loitering on the streets. The supermarkets and fruit shops are open only for a few hours with the rest of the shops not opening at all. In saying that, all of the bars are open from some ungodly hour of the morning. We decided to have a bit of a quiet day Sunday to recoup a few of the costs incurred the day before. We hadn’t been able to spend much time at the Lapa steps when we visited for our tour so we headed back to get photos and take a proper look at the amazing artwork on them. The layout of the tiles is just incredible; there are tiles from every country perfectly pieced together for the entire length of the stairs. We then walked via some of the theatre buildings toward parliament house to get our photo.

Art on a random street


After walking back through the streets of Rio, we decided we would try and tackle the laundry issues – the hostel washing machine was broken, so we had dropped it into a lavandaria (Laundromat) and collected it a few days prior. There was a shirt missing and we had acquired a baby cloth (this is NOT a sign). The laundry was closed, so we wandered to the supermarket; apparently Sundays are the day ALL of Rio does their grocery shopping. After inspecting every aisle and every different type of food available we lined up for half-an-hour to pay – the cashiers in Brasil don’t pack your bags, the entire process is so slow! Heading back to the hostel, we spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on our lack of responsibilities and a home-cooked meal of steak with cabbage, chorizo, onion and a heap of spices.

Ready to tackle the buses again, it was time for us to go to Copacabana. We were a little more organised, ensuring that we had cards and plenty of cash with us. The day was spent people watching, lapping up the sun and a few quick trips in the water. Being a Monday, there was a lot less people trying to sell us their trinkets on the beach and fewer people in general. We spent the day here but it was pretty much the same as Ipanema but the water wasn’t quite as pretty. The beaches here are nice, but as we’ve said in previous posts, they’ve got nothing on Australian beaches, except the in-chair food and drink service… we’ve got to take the positives out of this! We wound up the afternoon with a quick drink at an Irish bar that didn’t sell Guinness – we secretly suspected there were no Irish there, then onto a two-for-one caipirinha bar and lastly, to a restaurant that sold predominantly chickens roasted over a pile of charcoal.

Palms at Copacabana


Tuesday came time for us to leave. We spent the morning packing our bags, then the rest of the day on the computer uploading photos and writing about our adventures. Although it was a relatively boring day at the hostel, it was far too hot to go outside and do anything. Just walking from our room to the kitchen made us look like we’d had a shower and not dried ourselves. Rio is a somewhat crazy city with some beautiful things to see, we’ll end up visiting again someday to see Jesus, but for the meantime it’s off to Florianopolis.

Go see all the photos from Rio de Janeiro