There is only one Rio

And finally Rio...

Rio had a special feeling on this trip: it would be the nearest place from home, staying with family, speaking my own language, and living the Carnaval.
It was also the feeling of the beginning of the end, the departure from South America, the catching of the only flight we had bought long before starting the trip and a big twist on our travel route before going to 'the other side of the world'.

It was the feeling of reaching an important milestone mixed with nostalgia...

..But as soon as we were received  by our host, Carol, the nostalgia was forgotten and blended into the carioca spirit.

Helena and Carol connected so well as best friends from a long time, and it was not difficult, she was very happy to have us around and to enjoy finally visiting the Rio she never had the opportunity to visit before.

The weather remained covered during most of our stay with mild temperatures good for touring the city. We started by passing through some of the most famous beaches, the Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and ended up in morro do Leme with some fishermen.

On our way back we were ready for some action. 'Blocos' is the word to define street carnaval, meaning rather huge gatherings of people on streets closed  for traffic except for the music truck the huge crowds are following. On top of the truck the local neighborhood band playing famous samba tunes that are amplified on powerful loudspeakers.

The crowd cheers, dances, sings, jumps and of course drinks. A lot!
In the middle of the 'folia' there is always some space for some improvisation at a local cafe, where people bring their own music instruments and gather around a table to try their own best version of samba.
And then we tried one of the best possible refreshments there is: Açaí, a traditional fruit.
Or rather frozen Açaí pulp mixed with granola. It's just too good. We became addicted. When will someone import this to Europe?

Next day, and now in the company of the well-humored Rafa (Carol's husband) we also visited some places where most tourists don't usually go and ended up having one of our favorite meals, this time super sized: all-you-can-eat Sushi. It was difficult to stop as it was so delicious. After 3 or 4 trays we were full and shy enough to resist asking for more.
That night we went dancing, in the famous Rio Escenario. Outside there was one of the longest queues I have ever seen in my life to enter a club, luckily it went super fast to get to the door. Inside a beautifully decorated place with great samba bands.

 We had an amazing evening, danced danced danced, samba of course, or the best we could make of it.
Next day it was time for some more touring around to the Sugar loaf, a place with some of the best scenic views of the city, and itself a beautiful place to visit.
Carol and Rafa, our great hosts.
Rio de Janeiro with the Corcovado over the clouds.
And of course a great day can only finish with Açaí, we were indeed becoming very good at eating it.

We were so good at eating it that in the last day we felt obliged to do some exercise. Helena went running with Carol by the beach, and me and Rafa went walking on the calçadão of praia S. Conrado.

In the afternoon we went walking by Copacabana and got stuck in another massive 'bloco'. It was so big that we had no other choice than to stay there and dance with the crowd by the beach as the sun went down. Memorable.

The days in Rio passed so quickly that it was already time to leave and to say goodbye and a Big thanks to our wonderful hosts, a little 'see you soon' as Rio is one of these places that one always feels like going back to, especially now that we have made good friends there!


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