Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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I have been to some incredible cities while on this trip but I think Rio would have to be the most incredible city I’ve seen. The way that the city is designed is just amazing, huge skyscrapers built amongst mountains right next to spectacular beaches. From above the views of the city are just jaw-dropping.

I stayed in a hostel called Che Lagarto which is one block back from Ipanema beach, one beach over from Copacobana. It was a fantastic hostel and the people who work there were absolutely lovely. They also do open bar on Thursday nights which is always great fun as I found out with my new Aussie friends Harry and Giles, my French friend Greg and Norwegian friend Hanne.

Just having a drink or three at open bar night at Che Lagarto

Ipanema beach is gorgeous and Copacabana was really cool, although when I was there it was overcast so it didn’t look as spectacular as I’m sure it would on a sunny day.

Ipanema Beach

Copacabana Beach

On my second day in Rio I did a city tour which took us to Christ the Redeemer, Santa Teresa, the Cathedral, Lapa Steps, and Sugarloaf Mountain.

The views from Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain were absolutely amazing, giving a grand view of the entire city including Copacabana, Ipanema and Centro.

At the Lapa Steps we were able to meet Selaron, the artist who created the masterpiece, and I got him to sign a postcard for me. He was a bit crazy but apparently we caught him on a good day because a lot of the time he doesn’t even come out of his house which is right next to the steps.

On another day a group of us went to Barra de Tijuca where there is a beautiful beach. Alejandro, Andrea, Greg and I had an absolutely fabulous day lazing about and enjoying the sun (and a sneaky caipirinha).

Rio is also an amazing place to go out. Twice I went out salsa dancing in Copacabana, then went to an incredible street party in Lapa with people everywhere, cheap drinks and plenty of samba, and on my last night (Halloween) had a great night out drinking in Lapa and then dancing like idiots in Ipanema.

The food in Brazil is also incredible. I tried some sushi (thanks to encouragement from Greg) and it was delicious but the Brazilians really love there meat which means I was very happy. On my last night, Greg, Hanne and I all went out for churasco, which is pretty much all you can eat meat (chicken, beef, pork, sausage) with a side of rice and chips. Accompanied by a nice glass of red wine, of course. It was AMAZING!!

The vibe in Rio is absolutely awesome! It really has a buzz that makes it the exciting place that it is. The people are all gorgeous and aren’t afraid to let you know it. The guys all get around in tiny swimmers (or budgie smugglers as we’d call them in Australia) and the women wear g-string bikinis, most of the time on the beach I didn’t know where to look!

I’m so glad I went to Rio, because it wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit. And despite many people telling me that it can be dangerous, I felt safe all the time I was there. Rio is definitely a city I’d recommend visiting, but be aware that it’s expensive compared to the rest of South America, with prices for most things on par with Sydney or London.

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Arequipa

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After a 12 hour overnight bus from Cuzco, we arrived in Arequipa – Peru´s second largest city. I really liked the atmosphere of Arequipa and it was really beautiful as well with many of the buildings being built from volcanic stone which gives them a whitewashed appearance.

We had a free day in Arequipa so a group of us decided to do a tour of the Cathedral which is located in the main square or Plaza de Armas. Inside, the building was quite exquisite with high arched ceilings and  a museum that contained gold, silver and jewelled ceremonial pieces previously used during church proceedings. From the top of the cathedral there were views of the whole city and the enormous cone-shaped volcano that overlooks the city (active volcano I might add).

In the afternoon we visited the Monasterio Santa Catalina, a huge monastery that takes up a whole block and is like a city of it´s own with courtyards, winding alleys and room upon room where the nuns used to live. I no longer felt like I was in South America but instead in a small French village – especially with the vibrant colours of the walls and the flower boxes hanging from window sills.

I was really hoping to visit the Museo Sanctuarios Andinos which exhibits ´Juanita, the Ice Princess´a young girl sacrificed by the Incas over 500 years ago, however we ran out of of time.

After we returned from Colca Cañon we stayed in Arequipa again and we ate a restaurant on the balcony overlooking the Plaza de Armas which was absolutely beautiful by night and then headed out to a local night club called Deja Vu – very fun! Once again, not looking forward to the flight to Cuzco tomorrow.

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