Ola from Rio! We arrived safely and almost unscathed so that’s definitely something. Arriving in a new country when you have heard a never ending stream of horror stories of muggings, kidnapping and the likes is a little scary. Add to that I don’t speak a word of the language and its safe to say I felt more than a little intimidated. So you can imagine the feeling of dread that washed over me when the taxi driver stops on a narrow little street in front of what looks like a bathroom door with some handwriting scrawled across it and tells us that’s our hostel. I almost told him to take me back! We were then led by a lady who was sat out the front on a little stool through an empty restaurant and up a staircase at the back. Surely this can’t be right?! But to my absolute delight this is where all doubt’s ended. We were greeted by Eduardo, a lovely Brazilian lad who spoke perfect English. I know, that’s a terribly British thing to say. I have tried to learn some Spanish for the trip but learning Spanish and Portuguese was totally out of my academic capabilities and it was just nice to be able to understand someone. The hostel was small and quiet, and more importantly clean, and just what we needed after the long journey. It had a cute little roof terrace with a distant view of Christ the Redeemer that gave us an amazing sense of satisfaction confirming we had arrived in Rio; after all the looking forward to this moment we were finally here!
Ed told us there was a few people going to the Lapa street party that night. I’d read about Lapa being the best place to go out in Rio and Friday was the best night. We were pretty shattered and could easily have went straight to bed, but those who know me know for sure that didn’t happen. We said we would go for an hour. And those who know me know this also did not happen! So we nipped downstairs for a burger in the little restaurant, which are TO DIE FOR by the way, and our first taste of Caipirniha. As soon as it touched my lips I thought ‘oh no this is going to be dangerous!’ Its the perfect mix of citrus and sugar, bitter and sweet! Delicioso! (See I learned a Portuguese word at dinner!)
So we headed to Lapa and as we got out of the taxi we were welcomed by thousands of cariocas (Rio locals) and a huge row of tiny pop up bars offering different flavors of Caipirinhas and street food. We were led through the crowd to one of these little stands where Ed greeted the owner and ordered us a drink. R$5 for a pint of caipirinha (that’s about £1.20) and man they were strong – even more so when the owner came around cheering and topping them up with more cachaça! We spent the night ‘bar’ hopping, tasting different flavours of cachaça (the corn one is not pleasant! It literally tasted like blended tin of green giant mixed with rum), listening to samba and attempting to communicate with locals. Any anxiety I had disappeared as I realised how friendly everyone was.
Do you want to know what time we got home? 4:30am. What the fuck! I can’t remember the last time I stayed out until 4:30am. I’m a right lightweight now and I’m usually in bed by 1am. I’m going to pay for this tomorrow. And that I did! I spent my whole first day in Brazil in a hostel bunk bed. Not exactly the glamour I thought I’d be living. I don’t get bad hangovers usually but this was a killer. When I’d arrived yesterday I was wary of even sitting down on the hostel toilet and less than 12 hours later I’ve got my head stuck down it. Oh how things change. After the hideous feeling passed I was able to say “Well at least we had an amazing night!”