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Saturday 16 Jan 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Down at the Copa... Copacabana!

Have arrived in Rio after THE most God-awful flight in my personal history. It was raining shitloads last night, but extremely bright and sunny today so I'm happy the weather forecast was partially wrong!

Quick summary of the flight over ... Dublin airport was completely empty. Like a ghost town. It was very strange and no doubt due to the odd weather of late, yet this did mean the BMI flight over to London was completely empty, and thus very comfortable! I have to say, BMI do a bang-up job. Their staff are friendly and efficient and the airline really cares about you (they even gave me a courtesy phone call on the departure date to ensure I knew the time!). Definately will check them out in future.

After arriving in London, things started to go downhill rather quickly. The bare minimum of sleep was had in Terminal 3 after arriving from Dublin at 9pm to catch my 6am flight to Rio, via Madrid. After feasting on whatever paninis I could buy in the Café Costa (all restaurants being closed at 9-10pm!?!), I *did* manage to catch about 3 hours while lying on the hard floor, but that was only thanks to the earplugs and eyemask which I am extremely glad I organised beforehand! The earplugs would serve me well later on too...

Soooo tired and hungry, I trudge down to check-in at around 4.30-5 am, thinking there would be hardly anyone. Lo and behold there is already a massive queue which is nary moving at all. So, logically, I go to the back of the queue. 10 mins pass.. 20 mins... we've moved around 5 metres forward! I start getting worried, and decide to enquire with one of the checkin desks. Apparently queing for my flight at 6am wasn't necessary and the other people were all queuing for a flight at 8am! Doh! ... ok so I bring my bags over and check them in, asking to check them all the way to Rio ... but another problem, Madrid airport isn't open yet so I can't get my Madrid-Rio boarding card! Gah!!!.. a few more phone calls later, and she manages to get the ticket...  phew... heartattack avoided.

The flight to Madrid goes along fairly smoothly, I got a Fire Exit seat.

Arrive in Madrid and spend ages trying to find which terminal the flight to Rio is leaving from (as they keep changing the gate!!). I arrive in the Terminal 4 R section.. and the board suddenly reads "S"... later on it would change back to "R"!

I have a quick bite to eat in Madrid. 1 croissant, an orange juice, 1 tortilla (omellete) sandwhich. 13 euro thank you velly much. *cough*

Arrive at boarding gate for Rio flight... we wait 2 hours.. still no news... finally we all board. Flight is packed and seats are cramped. Two.. yes TWO (!) huge fat lads sit in the seats in front. One of them is freaking loud, shouting at everyone in Portuguese, apparently trying to be the life of the party. Then they sit down and recline the seats completely back into my lap. Before take-off. GAH! ... The plane has no A/C .. we sit there for 1 hour.. then we're told to get off the plane again due to a tech fault...

We wait another 3 hours... another plane arrives .. we FINALLY get in it and take off.

Now the fun REALLY begins... fat lad 2 starts talking really loud... and doesn't stop... he starts conversations with ppl to his left, 4 rows in front, behind me... he stands in the middle of the row (and on my foot sometimes), still talking...LOUDLY... and really abnoxiously... at least he put the seat up when I asked him to... one small blessing.

OK so long-story short.. the fat bastard doesn't stop talking .. for the WHOLE 11 HOURS!!!... jesus H christ! ... he is undoubtedly the WORST person to have as a passenger on a flight!

Right.. so I basically got no sleep there... the only blessing on the flight was sitting next to 2 rather cool lads, Carlos from Brazil and Leo from Italy...

Finally after 48 hours with 3 hours sleep.. we arrive in Rio, it's raining, and I share a taxi with Leo to Copacobana...

On the way we get a brief glimpse of Rio's infamous Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), glowing brightly amidst the tropical rainstorm. It's quite a stunning sight, even for one as tired as I.

I soon arrived at my lush hotel on the Avenida Atlantico (unbeknownst to me, the most prestigious location in Rio). I was dreading there may be some additional charges for checking in at 1am, but I think my Skype phone call to them from Madrid had me covered. The snooty doorman looked objectionately at my backpacker get-up, and made a note of informing me that I got an exceedingly good deal and that rooms are normally $300 per night (I got mine for about 80 euro). I didn't give a flying **** but I did have a very nice sleep after!

Side note: I was expecting Rio de Janeiro to be beside a river, or at least at the river's mouth, on account of the name, but apparently the name originated when the first Portuguese captain to arrive here by ship assumed he was entering the mouth of a great river. As I was later to find out, it does indeed look like the entrance to a river, rather than a bay.

1 Comment for this Travel blog entry

Marguerite Says:

16 January 2010

Awful journey Peter! That guy on flight to Rio sounded obnoxious-poor you. I warned you about the squasy planes and the food dished up no better. Look forward to your updates soon. Take care. Love Mum

peterforan Replies:

17 January 2010

well the alternative was to spend another 400 euro on a KLM flight, so I guess I had to make do...

South America Twenty Ten

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After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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    Office on the road!
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    Fast food, Brazillian style
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    Tired Pete looking out over Rio
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    Cristo from the back