We left Brazil at the end of last week. In total we spent five weeks roaming around, arriving in Rio and travelling south via Barra da Lagoa (outside Florianopolis), onto Porto Alegre and then finishing in Gramado in the Sierra Gaucha mountains. We can by no means say we have ‘done’ Brazil – there are huge swathes of the country that we did not get to see (saved hopefully for a future trip – the Amazon in particular is a dream, albeit a much less baby friendly one) but what we did see we loved, and we had a pleasingly varied itinerary that included beaches, mountains, cities and a zoo.
We have covered our Brazilian adventures pretty extensively to date so not much more remains to be said. However, there are a couple of final overall observations and experiences that we would like to jot down.
We knew before arriving in Rio that visiting with Amber in tow would be very different from the trip we would have had before becoming parents. For this visit at least, the city’s infamous nightlife would remain out of our reach.
But caiprinha fuelled samba parties are not all there is going on, and after two weeks in the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ we feel that we got a great taste of what it is about. Stunning, massive and fascinating, it had more than enough to occupy us, and despite thinking we were taking it relatively easy, we covered a lot of ground.
Rio is far more accessible than you would think given its reputation. Where we were staying in Barra Copacabana was safe and secure, and easy to get around by foot. The metro system is handy and linked us to various points of interest. Taxis are in abundance, and with Ubers as cheap as they are it often cost less to travel by taxi than by metro.
Here is a list of the things we did that we particularly enjoyed, and that we found to be either baby friendly, or at the very least baby accessible.
1. Parque Lage. The place we loved the most during our whole stay and the scene of Amber’s first official hike. Once the residence of a rich industrialist and now a public park, it has an abundance of fish ponds, woodland paths and, most enjoyably, grottos and caves to explore. As enthusiastic but novice spelunkers, we could barely contain ourselves.
Spelunking for beginners
I love numbers. And so what better way to mark our first week than a run down of some of the key facts and figures from our time in Rio so far. So in no particular order:
The number of minutes spent at Christ the Redeemer where cloud cover meant we only saw a fraction of the famous views. Also the number of times we got annoyed by tourists pushing and shoving to get their perfect photo. Not that we’re bitter.
Christ not doing much to redeem the view. Out of shot are a million tourists lying on the ground taking photos.
The main reason we started this trip in Rio was because of the Olympics. Such a massive and daunting city, without any knowledge of Portuguese, would have otherwise probably not been the best starting point. But we committed to the Games and bought tickets to a morning athletics session before we even booked our flights.
With 48 hours in Rio now behind us here’s some of our first impressions:
1. Natural beauty. To state the obvious the geographical setting of this city is absolutely majestic. Mountains, lagoons and beaches merge seamlessly with the city which wraps itself around its landscape in a natural, unimposing way.
It’s safe to say that we thought taking a 16 month old on a 3 hour car journey and 2 flights including one of 11 hours all on the same day was asking for trouble. However yet again Amber proved that she typically handles things far better than her parents do (see vaccinations, sleep and hot weather for further examples).
I am currently surrounded by endless piles of stuff, trying to figure out what makes the final cut. It’s the day before we leave for Rio and I need to decide for once and for all what we are taking with us. Packed already are toys, books, endless sachets of calpol and two Bunnies (life wouldn’t be worth living if we lost Amber’s go-to cuddly). Still to be decided are clothes – how many t-shirts do you need for a year??
If you’ve read the About us page then you’ll have a bit of an idea about who we are and what we’re doing. In this post I (James this time) will expand a bit on what this blog will be all about.