Niteroi to Rio De Janeiro

Gary normal text – Ginette italics

16th – 18th June

Our new accommodation was smaller than our previous apartment and a little damp and in need of some TLC (sink hanging off the wall) however the wifi was much better and we had a lovely outside communal area to sit in.

On our first night in the accommodation, we explored the area and stumbled across a fete with a live band. The evening was warm and there were lots of families and groups of friends chilling and enjoying the music.

We learnt on Sunday that the Brazilians love to visit the beach, it was a hive of activity. Women and girls in their bikinis (worn to expose their big, brown bottoms) and men in speedos. It felt like there were no inhibitions everyone seemed to be happy in their bodies big or small, old or young.  I still find it a little disconcerting watching people taking selfies of themselves, pouting and laughing into a camera to capture the moment, very strange.

19th June

Our first cycle since Net had the argument with a taxi bumper that she lost.

To move up Brazil we had no option but to go over a 500ft steep climb, I had done a recci cycle the day before and it was really steep (Front wheel lifting whilst trying to ride). This was with no kit so I knew we wouldn’t be able to cycle without getting off to push.

I had planned to get Net to walk as I pushed her bike, then at the top I could go back to the accommodation for mine. But Net can be a little stubborn and we ended up both going together. I ended up doing a relay of sorts, pushing mine up a while and leaning it against a post or tree (it needed a fixed structure or it would have rolled back down the hill) going back down and helping stubborn Net.
Ginette’s confidence has taken a downturn as she didn’t ride down the hill either, this walking lark looked harder than cycling it to me.

Ginette – I couldn’t see the point of Gary walking with me to the hill and pushing it all the way, I knew I was more than capable of pushing it most of the way, even if I was a little slower than Gary.

Once at the top of the hill, I had hoped to ride down the other side, but we were on a steep hill, I was in granny gear and there were cars passing at speed on a very uneven surface. I wasn’t sure if I could get on the bike on such a steep hill and if I did whether I would be able to control it. My confidence was shot to pieces so reluctantly I walked the bike slowly down the hill, using the brake to keep it steady. I had tears of frustration rolling down my face and my knee hurt like hell.

The cycle ride to Marica was planned to take us along the coast road, we did this for a while but the road was slightly inland and set low so we had no sea views. The road deteriorated to sandy tracks a few times. This route was a shorter route and was not suitable for cars, in the end we opted to head across to the main road for ease of cycling.

I had been trying to use my Garmin route but by this stage we were off route and I had no map to follow, to address this I switched to using the I phone with as a route planner. This worked really well, and didn’t need the internet. We are so lucky that Uncle Micheal gave us this phone, it’s becoming a very useful tool.

Today felt decidedly Foreign at last, the roads, people and houses looked different just like I thought they might have had before but being so close to the big city of Rio the contrasts were not so great to Europe.

Marica is a lively little town, we arrived fairly early so had a few beers near a bus station and watched the world go by, in fact I think the world was crammed into one of the buses.

Later we had a wander around the shops and settled in a street bar to watch Brazil vs Italy in the lady’s World Cup with a group of excited female supporters cheering the Brazilian team on.
The town had a nice feel to it and had lost the scary edge that we have felt in other areas.
Our host kindly text to offer to take us to a dance class for free, a fantastic opportunity missed down to bad timing , we didn’t see the text in time.

Ginette seems to be coping with cycling but I am trying to avoid hills and gravel for her. The roads are very busy and coachesand lorries are driving past very fast and close which is a little uncomfortable.

In the evening I managed to download Brazil terrain maps onto my Garmin from a website called “Talky Toaster” for £11 (Garmin charge far to much for there own maps) Also going premium on “Plot a” has allowed me to view my plotted points on google earth hence I can avoid non tarmac roads.

Ginette – observations from the day. Locals are friendly and seem curious as they see us cycle pass them but they are very slow to smile or to wish us a good day, usually responding once we’ve initiated the greeting.

My confidence grew through out the day but it is clear that road users are not courtious to each other and it is every man/woman for themselves. Cyclists seem to be given the least respect. I had hoped to cycle without my ipod but without music or voices in my head I am constantly worrying about something hitting me from behind. Several times we have had to swerve to avoid being hit by coaches or lorries.

I vowed that if we travelled in a foreign country again I would learn the language, I so wish I had taken the time to learn a little more Portuguese. We have tried but our efforts seem to be in vain we are getting by largely by hand gestures and smiles.

20th June

Today was a much longer cycle than originally planned due to rerouting to avoid main roads and gravel tracks, I think we ended up at approx 80 k

We had a long section along a good cycle route along the coast with good sea views also large inland lakes on the inside of us, but only the occasional view of these.

We reached a small seaside town called Saquarema, this had a church upon a hill by the coast giving good views of both the sea and lakes.

At one of our rest breaks we watched as large fish jumped and splashed back into the sea in the near distance.

Having finished our picnic we passed a cafe doing a cooked meal for £3 each.
On the coast road there were several vulture like birds sitting in the road
The cycle from the coast to our accommodation at araruama was up a busy 2 lane road with a sporadic hard shoulder so we didn’t enjoy the last 5 miles.

Our hotel was a little dated but had a pool and the room was spacious and clean. We tried to find dinner but the locals don’t seem to eat till later, the hotel had an on site restaurant but all they could offer Ginette was cheese chips, so she went to bed unhappy and undernourished. As we sat in the restaurant I watched others order their food we realised that all dishes consisted of chips and a choice of chicken, steak, sausage or pork. I had the chicken and some of Ginette’s chips. The restaurant hired a guitarist to play some local music and I wrote my diary to the sound of live music playing.

Ginette – Cycle ride, it is difficult to enjoy the main roads as they are so busy, but although Gary has tried to plot a route away from the main highways it is virtually impossible. The alternative is off road routes or going in land over the mountains.

Once at the accommodation we asked about food and although there was a language barrier the owner definitely confirmed fish was on the menu. Food was not served until 8.30pm which is really late considering we finished cycling at 3.30pm and greasy fries with some sweaty cheese on top did nothing for me. I tried to eat some to be polite and I even stayed half an hour to listen to the guitarist but I was not happy and decided the best course of action was to go to my room. I had intended to make a roll or eat some crisps but the chips had congealed into a ball of goo in my stomach and I didn’t want to add to the discomfort. I read for a bit whilst Gary stayed in the restaurant. We were both ready for sleep at 10.30 but the guitarist had other ideas and continued playing until gone midnight. He had some stamina but in all honesty I so wanted to go out there and break the guitar over his head. Not a great way to end the day especially as I had felt bored on the bike and had to keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be cycling in a foreign a country in the sunshine.

Highlight of the day was swimming in the pool at the end of the ride, we didn’t stay in very long as it was cold but it was very refreshing. The temperature is constantly in the early 30’c which is great but it does sap your energy.

21st June

Today we cycled to Macae, it was not a nice route as we only had one choice of road.
We are still making our way up the coast northwards so we have had occasional sea views but my spirits have been low today.

I Have resorted to removing my hearing aids as this softens the traffic noise. The road is pretty busy and for some stretches there is no hard shoulder on which to cycle, hence the buses and lorries pas by really close, one lorry had to manoeuvre back in whilst overtaking as he ran out of space, I had to drift off the road to avoid his wheels. To be fair these drivers have no room to move over but in the UK they wait for a gap in the traffic, here they just push on by. The coaches are worse as they are quiet so you don’t know they are there until they are alongside.
When we enter a town we then have cycle lanes to follow. These keep us away from the traffic but if the cycle lane has been built between carriageways then you have to contend with the flow of cars from both sides at each side turn.

We had lunch by a beach in another self catering cafe, 2 meals and 2 soft drinks for approx £6.

Ginette – Rubbish day, Gary has been feeling low for a day or two, we couldn’t wait to get going but the route we’ve chosen is dull along busy roads. I have saddle sores and my knee aches but worse than that is knowing Gary is clearly unhappy. I think the stress of finding a decent route and keeping me safe are wearing him down. Added to this the towns we have passed through are holiday resorts, nothing special or new. It feels like we are spending our money without experiencing anything new. We will give it another day but we may need to consider our plans.

22nd June

We didn’t cycle on today, after a discussion about how we were both feeling we are looking to see what other options we have to improve our trip. Although being by the coast can have its benefits, it does become sameish each day. Yesterday’s cycle was no fun and looking at the route we are currently heading on we will have similar experiences for the next 1000 miles.
Although I do want to cycle I also want to enjoy and feel safe

In Asia our cycling experience was very different with locals smiling and welcoming you, wanting photos with you plus the differences of religious beliefs meant temples and mosques kept the experience interesting.

I am having trouble capturing the same freedom of the road feeling, maybe I am just a bit jaded having done the years cycle and these new experiences we are having are no longer a novelty, or perhaps the area we are cycling is to “holiday zone” hence the flat feeling I am experiencing in this area.

We booked another accommodation in the same town and  spent the day with frustrating research

We have decided to change direction, our intention now is to try to get to Foz do Iguacu, the town is not supposed to be anything special but it is home to the large waterfalls. Once here we are in an area that is south Brazil bordering Paraguay. It should be a good base to start cycling again eventually heading into Bolivia and Peru

The research on how to travel there was time consuming and frustrating, you can find out most information quickly but add cycles into luggage requirements and it gets a bit trickier

Buses look to be the easiest and cheapest option as flights mean packing the bikes. I opted to cycle to the bus station and used google translate to check if the coaches will accept cycles, the answer was yes to Rio but no clear answer for the next 24 hour bus ride.

Tomorrow we will attempt to bus to Rio than to Foz do Iguacu, hopefully this will work out.

Ginette – A frustrating and expensive day. I upgraded our accommodation as the previous one had the noisiest air conditioning unit you could imagine and the wifi wasn’t very good. I had hoped for an apartment with a kitchen but all we had was a microwave and a bit of added space.   I sound like a miserable moo, but actually my spirits are high considering things are not going as we expected or hoped.

I keep reminding myself that we are very lucky, cycling in the sun in a new country but it is hard to ignore the fact that each day we are spending money and not fully enjoying the experience.

We have booked a bus to Foz do Iguacu but it will be 25 hours – yes I said 25 hours on a bus!!!  We don’t even have seats next to each other, I wish I took valium or something equally as strong to knock me out for the journey.

No photos this week – the internet in the bus station is pants.

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