Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 41 (3 to go) - Ihla Grande Walk and then back to Rio

I can’t believe that as I tap away at this on the beach at Abraao, on the big island near Rio, my next stop will be my last in Brasil. It’s been an absolutely brilliant experience. I’m so glad I did it and even though the actual football has been frustrating for me personally, it’s been a fascinating World Cup overall and the touring aspect has been the best ever. I have a few regrets. I wish I’d have had another week so I could have visited Pantanal and Diamantia and maybe even Lencois. I’d have swapped one of the Curitiba days and one of the Belo Horizonte days for an extra day in Recife and an extra day here, on Ihla Grande. I would have gone to Belem a day earlier so I could have done more there. But really that’s about it. On the positive side there are many things I did that were really great and (fingers crossed) I’m still well within my budget. AirBnB has been great, as has to be fair, and I think the prices have all been reasonable.

The biggest positive though, surely, is the complete contrast between the prejudicial fear I had in my head about possible crime here and the total absence of anything remotely scary or dangerous in reality. From the moment I got off the plane and walked away from that scare monger from Falkirk, who was bad mouthing Brasil and Brasilians, I have had a never ending series of pleasant experiences.

Today was a case in point. I had been advised to avoid Abraao. It’s too touristy. It’s a rip off etc. But the truth is, it’s just another lovely place. What’s wrong with “touristy” anyway? People who complain about such places are the sort who long for the days when Vilnius or Prague had no McDonalds’ – and no decent shops for the people either. It’s this longing for the dark ages that I can’t fathom. What’s wrong with a few fast food places, ATMs so you can get cash and very accessible, trendy bars on the beach?

I did consider going snorkelling today but the thought of having more clothes to dry off after finally getting them all dry again wasn’t worth thinking about. All I really wanted to do was go for a stroll in the countryside near the beaches. And that is exactly what I did. I didn’t know the entry to the national park was just along the beachside road, but it was. The walk wasn’t spectacular but it was very soothing and attractive. The beaches are lovely and the woodland full of life. I saw some capuchins (I think) and several species of bird. 90 minutes was just right before going back to check out and then strolling down to the jetty to choose a boat time to get back to the mainland. As I type this, that’s just 40 minutes away now.

My Room - A place to get dry

Pousada So Natureza

Abraao Beach



Bipedal littoral ape

Viaduct on Ilha Grane

So, when I got back to Angra Dos Reis, it was a 15 minute walk to the rodovaria to book the bus trip and then a two and a half hour bus ride back to Rio de Janeiro where it all started about six weeks ago.

I walked with a group of USA fans but then got weirdly separated as they got allocated to one bus whilst I got allocated to another. Anyway, we all had over an hour to wait, so I went back to the restaurant by the dock to do a bit of blogging.

When I arrived in Rio I got ripped off by a dodgy taxi driver - R$55 to take me to my final stop, 700m from the Maracana. It was always going to be the perfect way to end this holiday. If only it was England v Germany in the final, and England went on to win it, then it truly would have been perfect.

The thing that really is difficult for me to swallow is that I still think England could have done it. They really weren’t that bad and if they’d have had a bit of luck they could have won their group and then beaten Greece to play Holland in the quarter finals. England could have won that game too and as their confidence would have been on a high, beating Argentina wouldn’t have been so ridiculous either.

The power of delusion, eh? I still have England beating the overrated Germans at the Maracana on Sunday, even though in reality England were knocked out at the earliest possible time, after just two games.

Lunch on the beach

Caipifruta - my new favourite Brazilian cocktail

Fish and banana

Time to get the boat back to the main land

Ihla Grande is lovely ... and big

Ah well, one can dream…

Anyway, I arrived at my last AirBnB stop and was greeted by Alinia (Camilla, the host's father) who speaks excellent English. He's a financial advisor and welcomed me to his wife, Ana, and son and showed me my room. I had a quick shower and got changed into more comfortable clothes as Camilla had returned from work. Again, it's so nice to be invited into people's families like this. And Alinia invited me to join them for their evening supper - a lovely pasta and chicken broth - before we all retired to bed.

Being located on a busy street in Tijuca, it was quite noisy outside but I was really tired and soon drifted off into a great night's sleep.

Rio de Janeiro

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