Monthly Archives: June 2012

200 days on the road

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I know the last time I wrote something it was about the carnival in Brazil, which is a few months ago, but I simply had to write something now…

Tonight it’s my last day abroad – for now.

After exactly 200 days on the road, I’m going back home tomorrow. And two (I think) of my best friends are coming to pick me up from the airport.

So many intense and conflicting feelings… Couldn’t really name all of them (not even in Greek), but they include sadness, excitement, emptiness, eagerness… and a lot more. 

Spending almost a whole month in London was simply amazing, and once more I realized how much I love this city. I know that this is such a stereotype, but I think I’d be moving back here if it wasn’t for the weather…

Enough with the emotions and the blahblah. Here’s a pic my good friend Pete (whose floor I’ve been squatting for this whole month in London) took of me.

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Cumming home tomorrow… Can’t wait to get rid of that winter jacket and find my sandals.

At the same time, I have a wedding to go to on Saturday. Can’t say I’m looking forward to finding my high heel shoes… It’s been so nice to have the excuse of not “having” any formal clothes with me…

Then again, a nice dress would be nice for a change 🙂

Carnival Part 1: Carnival in Recife – Olinda

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So… the day had arrived. Carnival was starting, and the municipalities of Recife and Olinda had planned lots of activities. So Jose and I made our way to see some of the free concerts planned for the evening.

The only thing that could go wrong was…the weather. Rain was there again, and LOTS of it…

Nevertheless the Brazilians didn’t seem to notice it, as they were dancing to the music – which was great, with lots of popular musicians appearing for free.

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If my mood had been better, I would probably have enjoyed that night a lot more… But I had had enough rain by that time, and I promised myself that if the weather didn’t improve, I would leave soon. My friends Tiina and Andreas were going to Rio for the carnival. Being Finnish / Swedish, they had planned it since September 2011, and had asked me to join but, being Greek, “I hadn’t made up my mind”, much to Tiina’s amusement 🙂 However, I still wanted to go to Salvador, which was about 10 hours on the bus away from Recife…

The following day I went back to Olinda. There was a party atmosphere, with no rain, so I rather enjoyed it, and met some nice people who were really happy to meet a Greek woman – or they had guns in their underwear 😛

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After a few hours in Olinda I decided to go back home…

…bad idea… Buses were full, taxis were impossible to get and it started to rain A LOT… I thought this was bad already… I was wrong – when I finally managed to get a bus, the driver dropped me off at a completely wrong part of the city, and I had to walk for about a half-hour in the dark, on a rather big avenue, cars splashing water on me. This was one of the (few, overall) times in the whole trip when I started wondering “What the hell am I doing here?”…

After about three hours total, I managed to get home soaked, cold and miserable. Luckily a delicatessen supermarket was open, and I went in to have a very expensive gourmet soup. It was good though and it somehow made me feel better. As the English say, “soup is good for you”. Indeed.

It was time to move on. And the next destination was Rio… Sometimes you have to be under pressure to take decisions. I got a couch with Eduardo who we had Christmas dinner with… https://vanidio.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/christmas-in-rio/ and Jose helped me book a flight for the next day.

Time for some sun – and time to meet some friends I haven’t seen for a while 🙂

Carnival Part 1: Olinda before the carnival

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The next day, I went to Olinda, a colonial town very close to Recife, where carnival is also celebrated. I had seen pictures of the town and it looked really beautiful, so I thought I’d go take some pictures before the crowds appeared.

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The town was unexpectedly quiet -very few people were around.

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The market was open though, and I had a nice cheesy snack, checking around for souvenirs.

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I almost bought a hat… but then I decided to run around this girl who was checking them out, and totally forgot about buying one. Instead I focused on trying to take a nice pic. I almost succeeded…

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I took the bus back to Recife… I wanted to get an early night, as carnival was starting the next day and I had to have some energy 🙂 

 

Carnival Part 1: Recife, waiting for the carnival

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On my first evening in Recife, Jose took me downtown to see the pre-carnival events.

I more or less knew what to expect – people who know a few things about Greece should know that we also celebrate the carnival in a city called Patra, on the southwest of Greece. That carnival is quite big, attracting loads of visitors for a few days. I had been there twice, and I thought that I had an idea of what to expect.

More or less I was right… Thousands of people were on the street, talking, singing and dancing, wearing costumes, colourful clothes, or just funny wigs. The main difference was that people drank beers and caipirinhas instead of mavrodafni, and that people came in all shapes and colours, Brazil being such a multicultural country.

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However, there was something more there. People were somehow “crazier”. There is something I can’t really explain, one has to go there to see. They seemed to “dance like noone is watching”. Perhaps it’s just my idea, because I felt like I didn’t really fit in – or perhaps I just wasn’t in a carnival mood.

The truth is… at that stage of the trip I was already quite tired. After two months (and a bit) of travelling, I was tired of having to decide “what to do next”. At the same time, the rain that seemed to follow me from the beginning of the trip for about 70% of the time had just reappeared… and that really spoilt my mood.

Whoever hasn’t seen tropical rain wouldn’t be able to understand my frustration. During that time, I had quite a few arguments with close friends that told me “stop complaining about the weather, you are on vacation”… but quite honestly, bad weather CAN spoil your vacation – and your mood…

Eitherway, there I was in Recife, looking at dressed up colourful people and feeling quite out of place. But I did smile for the picture with Socrates 🙂

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Carnival Part 1: Arriving at Recife

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Leaving Noronha I was very excited for the next destination: Recife. Recife is a city on the north coast of Brazil, which is very famous for the carnival – but mostly within Brazil.

I had struggled to decide where to go for the carnival: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia, or Recife? Many of my Brazilian friends had recommended Recife, saying that it was more traditional, whether Salvador could be more dangerous, and Rio was too touristic. So I had decided to go to Recife, and had a host there, Jose, for a few days.

Jose came to pick me up from the airport, and we went for a walk to the beach, where I saw something I had heard of, but never seen before… 

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Beware of sharks!!!!! 😛

Not that I had intention to swim there. Guess what? It was raining…!!!

Last day in Noronha

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Flavio and I decided to meet on my last day on the island, to go to one of the most remote beaches.Getting there was great, and we took a bunch of pictures again!

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Sitting here in cold and grey London, I can’t believe I was there a few months ago… It’s time for some beach again…

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Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, so we had to leave the beach in time for my plane.

Flavio proved to be an interesting guy and a great guide at the same time! I am sure that without him the Noronha experience wouldn’t have been half as interesting 🙂

Verdict: If you ever go to Fernando de Noronha, don’t do a guided tour… rent a buggy and go around the island on your own… or – even better – try to meet Flavio who will take you around!!! Just learn some Portuguese first! 🙂

I left the island with kind of mixed feelings… This island is very very beautiful, with some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen, and snorkelling was fantastic, however I think it is quite overpriced (especially the scuba diving) and perhaps a little overrated. Also, it’s a very touristic place – even though it’s not very crowded, everything goes around tourists! Even nightlife is strange, as the people who work as guides / scuba instructors during the day will be the people playing drums in nightclubs in the evening, and asking you to dance with them when they are not playing…  

(…I think I am risking being hated by all my Brasilian friends… but well, I don’t like to lie! At the same time, coming from a beach country, I have very high standards when it comes to islands and beaches!)

Scuba diving (or almost…) in Noronha

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As snorkelling had been so fantastic there, I decided to go scubadiving the next day. Since I don’t have the PADI, I was gonna go for a “batismo” dive. Very expensive, but I really wanted to try.

I went to the dive school to register, and they asked me to sign a form in Portuguese. When I asked if it was available in English, they said it wasn’t. That’s professionalism for you, on a very expensive touristic island. I won’t let any foreigners ever complain about Greece being a country where they don’t speak English…

My partner / scuba diving instructor was very nice, however I soon realised I was either stressed about the dive, or just plain tired. I went 6-7 metres deep, and then I started feeling sick… so I had to go up to the surface and spend the rest of  the day throwing up and sleeping.

That was the worst dive ever! At least I tried… And I do intend to take the PADI sooner or later!