August 20th to Sepember 6th 2006
Sunday, august 20'th
Starting from Vejle at 1.16 by train to Copenhagen. It's on schedule, and I'm in Copenhagen at 3.30.
Another short train-ride to the airport and a TAP-air flight to Lisbon at 6.25. 3½ hours later I'm in Lisbon. Then a short ride to my hotel - Hotel Roma - just for sleeping.
Monday, august 21'st
Breakfast at 7.30 - and a taxi to the airport. The plane for Salvador de Bahia is supposed to leave at 10.15, but it's 11.15 before we actually get moving.
The trip across the atlantic takes 7½ hours, so we arrive at 3 pm local time - including the time-difference. It takes a while before my luggage arrives, but finally it does. A long line at the customs where they have decided to check everyone - but that's only until one in the queue calls an official and starts to make loudly complaints. Then most of the queue is sent through without checking. Only in South-America such a thing could happen.
A minibus is ready to take me and 2 other Danes to Pousada Beija Flor in Pelourinho, the old part of Salvador. It's a very nice place - a Pousada is a small hotel - a bit like a british B&B. I've got a nice room with great views across the bay and the harbour. I'm there to see the sunset at 5.30 local time.
Out for some cash at at ATM. But I can't find anyone working. Have to try again tomorrow. So without local money, I have to get "dinner" from the minibar at the room.
Tuesday, August 22'nd
First whole day in Salvador. Great buffet-breakfast with melons, grilled bananas, homemade cake - and a lot of other stuff very much different from a british B&B. Then out to take a look at this old part of Salvador called Pelourinho.
First stop - Banco de Brazil. My Visa is working here, so I get some Reials out of the machine. I have been warned by the hotel - don't carry to much cash - there are thieves in a poor area like this.
So I return to the hotel to my safety-box with most of the money. There seems to be something about what they said. Almost outside the hotel 3 policemen are holding a thief lying on the ground - 2 of the officers with their guns pointing at the guy. I decide to take a small detour so I don't intervene in the proces.
Pelourinho - by the way - has not got a nice story. It was settled during the days of the slave-trading being a major import-center for slaves to most parts of Southern America. That went on until 1825, and is the reason why Pelourinho - and Salvador - is very much influenced by Africa.
There's a large number of churches in the city. One for every day of the year it is said. I check out 2 of them . The St. Francisco church and the "Igeja de Ordem 3. Secular de Sao Franciso da Bahia". Very nice places with lot of goldpainted woodwork and portuguese-inspired tiles.
Both churches has small museums with nothing much in them, but it gives them an excuse to take a small fee from the tourists.
Tuesday is a special day in Pelourinho. For some reason there's a huge party every tuesday night. At 5 they start with a carnival-parade through parts of the city. 25-30 groups participate. The youngest participants are so young they can hardly walk - and that almost go for the oldest as well. This goes on for more than an hour, an when the parade is finished some of the groups have small concerts around the city.
Later more organised concerts starts at 3 or 4 places around town. Something more popular samba - a band with a rapper, doing his thing with a huge group of drummers - and a more jazz-inspired band is what I get to see tonight.
This goes on late into the night, but I don't. I'm to tired and returns to bed at around midnight.
Wednesday, august 23'rd
Breakfast - a walk through Pelourinho - and then a taxi 4-5 km. north to Praia del Barro. Here are a few nice beaches. There's also an old fort - supposed to be the oldest in Brazil. I walk around here for a couple of hours before returning to Pelourinho.
Lunch at a local I have found. There's a buffet, and you pay by the pound for the food you take. They do that in a lot of places down here.
Afternoon-stroll in my local neighbourhood. A mix between nice Pousadas and old houses. Children are playing football all over, and the adults are hanging out the windows chatting with everyone that pass. All looks quite enjoyable, eventhough things here are very poor.
From my local area down to the the more tourist-parts of Pelourinho. It's not that big - I have seen most already - but a very nice place it is.
Dinner at "Casa de Roca". Food in Salvador is cheap and plenty, but nothing spectacular. There's live music for dinner tonight. A local troubadour is plying the classic brazilian hits at the bar.
Then back to Beija Flor. There's no TV in the room so I spend the evening on my balcony with a book and a nice view.
Thursday, august 24'th
Start the day with a nice walk in my local area. I really like this area. You meet people selling oranges, bananas etc on small carts - and there's a lot of local life.
The downhill to tourist-Pelourinho. It doesn't take long before you get a "gift". A small waistband is tied around your waist, and you get three wishes. When that is done - well they just happen to have to show their fine shop to you, with plenty of wooden-pearls etc - very cheap of course.......
On to more shopping-parts of the city. There are plenty of music-shops - and a lot of them selling instruments. I go to one of them to buy some local music on CD with me back home.
Then back to my Pousada again. Late lunch at my local, and siesta at my room.
Afternoon-walk is cancelled today. So it's only dinner at Roca's and for the third time in a row I'm not able to finish the meal - it sure is plenty.
Friday, August 25'th
Private-driver is ready at 7 to take me to the airport. My TAM-flight leaves for Foz de Iguassu at 8.30, with a stop over in Rio de Janairo. Vi land in Foz at 1 pm. It's a short taxi-ride from the airport to my hotel San Martin Hotel & Resort. It's just beside the entrance to the brazilian part of the nationalpark with the waterfalls. We'll get back to that, because today it's to late
But there's time for a local birdpark just beside the hotel. Plenty of beautiful and colourful birds. Parrots, Toucans - you name it. Very nice place
The hotel is a kind of resort-place. It's far from any city, so you have to stay and eat at the hotel, which I would prefer not to. But only chance for dinner is the restaurant or the bar at the hotel this night. I get a bad sandwich in the bar, before I retire for my room with a nice TV.
Saturday, August 26'th
Shitty day!! Thunder and rain from the morning. Impossible to get outside. Keeps on until 3 so no sightseeing today, just watching TV at the room. Premier League and golf from USA.
Dinner at the restaurant at the hotel. 30 Reials for an all you can eat buffet - so I try to eat as much as possible. Only thing disturbing, is the guy playing the hammond-organ in the corner of the restaurant. I'd rather prefer the guitar-guy in Salvador.
Sunday, August 27'th
Better weather today - only cloudy from the morning, no rain.
The entrance to the brazilian part of Parque Nacional do Iguacu is just 100 m. from the hotel. The fee is 20 Reials, and then I'm ready for the colourful bus in the park. It takes the tourists about 5 km, before it reaches the reason for being here - the waterfalls. Out of the bus, and a nice walk downhill along Rio Iguacu. The only thing going up is an anteater with it's nose buried into the ground taking notice of no one. I continue towards Garganta do Diablo the most powerful of the falls. There's a bridge out into the river here, so you can get closer to the falls and have a great view.
Eventhough the waterlevel is very low, it's a gigantic sight.
The trip up and down takes a few hours, so I still have plenty of time. So after a cup of chocolate, I take the whole trip once more. The sky has cleared, so there's a chance for better pictures this time.
After this I return for the hotel. There's not many guests at the hotel. But there's plenty of employees. At the bar at the swimmingpool there are three waiters waiting to serve the one person out there, and when I go to dinner at the restaurant, there are 4 waiters to help me. One with the wine-card (water please !), one for taking out the chair, one who wants to know which room I'm staying in - and the fourth one just hanging around. Thank God - the hammond-guy has the night off.
This day finishes with a beer in the bar - strangely - the coffee in this place is awful - weird, when we are actually in Brazil.
Monday, August 28'th
Going abroad today. To Missiones, Argentina - to take a look at the falls from the other side.
Leaving the hotel at 8 in a minibus. It breaks down at the border, so we have to wait for another one. So it's almost 10 before we reach the entrance to the argentinian part of the falls.
I take a walk along Passeios Supereiores - upper walk. It's a short one along the top of the waterfalls.
Then on to Passeios Inferiores - lower walk. It's a little longer, and you look up onto the waterfalls. You meet a lot of anteater on the way and a lot of colourful birds. Wonder if I can take an anteater with me back home. Could be useful for cleaning my apartment.
Last part is a small tivoli-train going to a bridge made of iron. This bridge leads very close to the Garganta do Diablo. At the end of the bridge there's a plaform, and here you a very close. It's not windy today, but anyway you get soaked out here. This is real natures drama, so you spend some time just watching the thing.
Both the nature and the waterfalls on the argentinian side is much more beautiful than in Brazil.
At 4 we return. This time in a smaller bus and a car. On the way back we make a small break at a viewpoint, where the rivers of Iguacu and Paraná meet. You are standing in Argentina, and can see Brazil on the other side of Iguacu and Paraguay on the other side of Paraná.
Back to the hotel, dinner at the restaurant and a beer in the bar.
Tuesday, August 29'th
I have a small problem - almost out of cash. It's like playing the lotto using the ATM's down here, and the last two times I have played I haven't won. So there's not much room for tips for the good people at San Martin Hotel & Resort.
I'm leaving Iguassu today. But it's late in the afternoon, so I have to spend the day in some way. I so so by getting up late, and hanging out by the pool, reading and trying to solve som Sudoku's. At 4.30 I'm taken to the airport - and there's an ATM working, so I'm back on track again.
At 5.30 TAM takes me to Rio de Janeiro airport. Here I'm picked up by an older gentleman taking me to Buzios in a minibus. Buzios is an old fishing-village 180 km from Rio. It's a terrible ride out there, the rain is pouring down, making it hard to see anything. The trip takes 3 hours before we reach Pousada San Germain. I get a room - with 4 beds. And I'm only here for 3 nights, so I won't have the chance to use them all.
Wednesday, august 30'th
I'm the only one staying at the Pousada, so breakfast is served as I arrive at the reception. The friendly receptionist gives advice about walks and good places to eat.
Buzios is not actually much of a city. It's more a place with nice beaches. Brigitte Bardot "discovered" Buzios in the sixties, and made it a tourist-attraction. There's a fine little statue of her down by the beach.
I start the day with what is the closest to downtown Buzios. 4 streets in one direction - 6 in the other. Then I visit some of the beaches around the city. They are nice. At Praia Joao Fernandes you have to be a little careful. The receptionist has warned me. Don't sit down, or someone will come buy asking you for money for just that seat. So I don't sit down - just stand up out here.
Later another walk to an almost empty Praia Brava. The locals find it cold today - I like it a lot - 22-25 degrees celsius is very comfortable.
Dinner at Davids - recommended by the receptionist. You get a free Caipirinha here. They drink it all over this country. It's made of lime, sugar, cachaca (local alcohol made on cane sugar) and plenty of ice. Taste like soda, but don't ever drink it like it is.
Dinner is great. Some kind of fish. Buzios is an old fishing-village, so there's a lot of dishes with fish. There's also - as everywhere you go to eat - plenty of it. As usual I'm not able to eat it all.
Thursday, august 31'st
Windy today. So of course it's time for a little sailing on a boat leaving from Buzios harbour going around for about 3 hours. The boat stops now and then, and those who wants can get into the water. There's also a break on a "floating restaurant".
We are back at 2, and it's time for some lunch. If I had planned this trip by myself, I'm not sure Buzios would have been included. To much a tourist-town. I'm not into beaches and the local habbit of driving a beach buggy. But the weather has been nice, the Pousada great and nice places to eat so it's been quite relaxing being here.
Dinner at a place downtown. A kilo-restaurant, where you pay by the pound you eat. A guy playing a sax is coming by. It's disgusting - so I leave the place as soon as I can.
Friday, september 1'st
Leaving Buzios at 8.30 for Rio de Janeiro. Same minibus, same driver and same company - only myself. But this time it's day and dry, so you can actually see where you are going. A lot of poor farmland, and as we get closer to Rio, it's more industrial-areas and favellas.
We arrive at Rio Othon Olinda at 11.30. I say goodbye to the driver, and checks in at room 205. Othon Olinda is a bit old and rundown - just the place I like - and it's right on Copacabana.
I spend the day walking Copacabana. First all the way up this famous beach - and then plans are to walk all the way down. But as I pass my hotel it starts to rain, so I get inside for a football match on the TV instead.
There's not many people on Copacabana on a day like this - the locals find it too cold. 22 degrees celsius is not a decent weather for beach-life. So there's only a few football players, and the usual guys selling fake football-shirts.
Dinner at a local Charuscoria. Plenty of red meat and good salad. You pay 3 reails for 100 grams.
The day ends in the hotel bar with a view across the road to Copacabana. Well actually a view towards the gas-station in the middle of the road.
Saturday, september 2'nd
First duty is a local ATM. 350 Reials for the the last few days.
350 Reials is by the way the minumum-wage for a month here in Brazil. Christina tells about that on my first tour of the day - a favela-tour. So I spend the same amount of money on a few days as a tourist as a lot of people is making in a month. Something to think about.
A large part of the inhabitants of Rio is living in favelas placed up the hills. Favelas has got a reputation for being dangerous. Police has nothing to do here. The local drug-dealers are controlling these areas. But Christina tells us that we can be safe. They know we are here as tourists, and the moral-codecs of the favella is that crime is not allowed inside the favella. That will only attract the police, and noone is interested in that.
It's ok to take pictures, but not of people wearing guns or walkie-talkies. They are involved in drugdealing, and would not be happy to see their faces on www.henningn.dk. Favelas is also known from the great film "City of Gods"
The first favela is called Rocinha and it's huge. No one really knows how many people live here, but estimated - on the use of electricity - it's somewhere between 100.000 and 150.000 people. We make 3 stops in Rocinha. One just as we get into the favella, one a a building with a nice view across the favela and the last one in a busy shopping-street. A favela is like a whole community. You don't have to get outside. You can buy everything you need in the favela.
The architecture of a favala is something speciel. Houses are build of what you can get. Rocinha is a relatively "wealthy" favela, so most houses are made of decent materials, but here and there you also see blue plastic used as part of the construction.
Many houses are in more floors. They build one floor, and when that's not enough they put another one on top - etc. etc. There's no earthquakes in Brazil, so it seems to be an ok method.
Electricity is something special as well. Cables are everywhere, hanging across the streets. In this area most houses has water and sewers as well - and most even satellite-dishes. According to Christina no one in Brazil can live without football and soap-operas on the TV.
Next favela is much smaller. It's called Villa Canoas. We visit a community-school - called Para Ti - where they try to help the kids that is dependent on the hopeless public schools. Half of the price of this tour, is for supporting this school.
Then we walk the tiny alleys of this favela. If the guide wasn't there we would get lost.
The whole trip takes 3 hours - some of the most well spent 3 hours on any tour I have ever taken.
Second tour of the day is for Maracana - one of the largest football-stadiums in the world. It was built for the world cup in 1950, and they promised to paint it, in the colours of the champions - believing that it would be Brazil. But it wasn't, so the stadium is painted lightblue - the colours of Uruguay.
The match tonight is between Flamengo and Internacional. One of the best clubs in Rio vs. the winner of Copa Libertadores (Champions league of South America). Only a crowd of 14.000, but they make a lot of noise. Flamengo gets in front at the end of the 1'st half, but the game is turned upside down as Internacional scores on two penalties in the second half. The crowd is not at alle happy with the home team - especially the left back who was the guilty one for the second penalty is having a hard time with the crowd.
The match ends at 8 and we return to the hotel.
Sunday, September 8'th
The big Rio-tour today. Guide is picking me up at 9 for a trip to the major Rio sights. First one is Sugar Leaf - or Pao de Acucar in the local language.
It takes 2 rides on a aerial ropeway to get to the mountain with the great views. Weather is perfect, so you can see all the Rio neighbourhoods clustered among the green hills in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Sugar Leaf is app. 400 m. hight, and is also a good destination for rock-climbers. There are several groups climbing up and down the hills this morning.
A couple of small aeroplanes is in the air above writing the letters Oi in their stream. Oi is a telephone-company sponsoring the Rio Marathon that takes place today.
From Sugar Loaf we cross the city to the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. It's nice weather, so there are people at the beaches today.
And then it's time for lunch.
Afternoon starts with a drive through the huge Tijuana-forest to the mountain of Corcovado. This place is famous for the huge christ-figure - called Christ the Redeemer. We are 710 m. up in the air, so it's pretty cold. We get to see the statue, and the nice view before we get on the bus again. Now we go down through the charming - but also dangerous area of Santa Theresa. We pass the house where Ronnie Biggs - famous english train-robber - spent his life, before going back to England and prison in 2001. Later we also pass Maracana and the Sambadrome, where the carnival in February takes place. Now it's just a huge place made out of concrete. Some samba-dancers would have been nice.
Last stop is the San Sebastian Cathedral. Very modern thing. Ugly from the outside, but pretty nice inside.
Then on via Rio downtown and the 2 neighbourhoods of Botafogo and Flamengo to the hotels at Ipanema and Copacabana. As usual I end up being the last one on the bus, so I have to spend an hour looking at different hotel where the other people on the bus is staying.
Dinner at my local and a short walk up Copacabana. There's a huge concert-thing going on - lot's of people - impossible to get past them.
Monday, september 4'th
Rain in Rio. Not so nice. The only thing I can think of is going to the shopping mall Rio Sul. That's not what you travel half the world to see is it?.
Dinner at a local restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. "Manuel e Joaquim" it's called - and it's great.
Tuesday, september 5'th
Windy and cloudy today - but no rain. Not exactly how Rio looks in the tourist-brochures, but at least you can take a walk outside. I go for a long walk along Copacabana and Ipanema. No one is swimming at the beaches, but the weather is great for surfing. There are huge waves. A lot of people use this chance, and they are good at it.
My last brazilian lunch is at "Manuel e Joaquim". I'm only been in Rio for 3½ day, and that's not enough - especially when you miss a day due to rain. There's a lot of things I haven't seen - but maybe some other time.
Taxi from the hotel at 2.30 to Rio Airport. TAP leaves at 5.30 and we land in Lisbon at 7.15 wednesday morning local time after a 9 hour long flight, with bad movies and no sleep.
Wednesday, september 6'th
TAP leaves Lisbon again at 9.30 and arrives in Copenhagen 3½ hour later at 2.10 - local time. I grab my luggage, and reach the train to Vejle at 2.40 - arriving at my hometown at 5.20.