The Emerald world, such a rare gem-Columbia…oh yes and a little event of the Olympic hockey Finals

So here I am in Bogota the capital of Columbia. Somewhere I’ve never really wanted to go, somewhere my parents are hating me going, and the one place that everyone’s eyebrows are raised when you say you are visiting. But as my flight landed for transfer in Columbia and I didn’t fancy another 14 hour flight transfer wait, why not stay in the capital and explore country number five.

The Olympic Women’s hockey final has been played and I want to watch it delayed on iPlayer so I don’t even turn my phone on in case of messages from home or an update.

I vaguely remember a message or a blog saying I must queue for a taxi and make sure it’s an official one, so I see an official taxi booth and don’t need to queue as there’s only one person in front. Book myself in, and about £20 later have a man quite happily carrying my very heavy suitcase (minus that bloody 5kg i am carrying) to his taxi van and off we go. The view out of the windows already looks much more South American, more traditional and somewhere I think I’ll enjoy. A lovely thirty minute drive through the busy streets, through mainly built up areas and we arrive at the B and B (hidden behind iron gates??), ring the doorbell and out comes one of the owners.

Wow what an absolute treat for the eyes inside is. As you walk in to the main hall there is an open fireplace with old looking wooden seats around it, wooden staircases Dynasty like going up round to the top floor ,and there is my bedroom and all its splendour with a solid wooden door, apparently triple glazing to keep the road noise out, beautiful decoration, and an amazing bathroom. It’s even got a massage shower, you know the ones where you don’t have to have the water from the shower-head, you can press a button and it comes out of jet streams that are going for three different places on your back. I mean that is a great way to finish the holiday.

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The owners don’t just check you in like many a place, they sit down and have a chat as we have a bottle of wine, ask me what my plans are.  As I have no idea they discussed the options and tell me about a buddy system where a local student comes and spends the day with you giving you a tour by foot or by bike to do whatever you choose. The lovely owners are Rick who is American and his wife Beatrix who is Columbian. They have redecorated the B and B from scratch, down to every last detail.Such a lovely family feel, attention to detail and friendly atmosphere.

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A another person staying at the B&B pops back, a lovely Chinese man, and he sits and chats to us as well. He’s had a buddy for three days and absolutely raves about them. So decision made, buddy tomorrow. He also suggested the Salt Cathedral and Montserrate, so ideas at least.

So after a lovely hour chatting and planning, I head up to my room to unpack and watch the hockey gold medal match between Team GB and the favourites I have to admit the Netherlands. And as I’m sure you know by now we bloody rocked the shoot out and are Olympic Champions, we are just awesome particularly goalkeeper Maddie Hinch who didn’t put a foot wrong. Do I wish I was there? No, as fab as it would be, Columbia is already a bonus, and with lots to see I am excited for the next few day.

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Breakfast is cooked fresh for you and served down in front of the lovely fire place, fresh orange juice, cup of tea and pancakes how amazing is that. Best breakfast so far, best accommodation by far, and best hostel by a million miles.

My buddy for the day is Johnny, and off first to La Candelaria (the colonial centre) we head. A fab way to see the city, there’s a pedestrian/bikes only route right down the centre of town. We pass the hotel-penthouse that Guns and Roses trashed about 10 years ago, so badly that it only reopened last year because they refused to pay for the damage.

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The Gold museum where you can more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials from pre-Hispanic cultures. Fascinating videos showing how they made the Gold into the intricate little shapes. Using moulds from beeswax and then pouring in clay to create a mould that the Gold is then poured into. Each piece unique as the mould can only ever be used once.

Circling around a bit more through downtown to the oldest part of town were the first building is now two coffee shops, the best coffee shops in the area apparently. Through the narrowest road in town, very Diagon Alley esk.

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I went into the Museo Botero, dedicated to all things Chubby, by Fernando Botero. The art really is weird, paintings of chubby people and animals. Reminds me of cabbage patch kids.

There are lots of street traders about, so I get a lovely Christmas Gift for my brother, Star Wars themed. Love it, and I also get a Colombian coloured bracelet to add to my collection. And it’s only at this point that I realised that there is more yellow on the Colombian flag that red and blue. That is because of the Gold that was found here so they put it in the flag all those years ago. Pointless fact, maybe useful for pub quiz!

Off to stop for lunch at a quaint little cafe with three floors of seating. Johnny recommends me a local dish, it has everything you need for a balanced diet, beans, avocado, banana, shredded beef, fit for about a table of four but despite the weird mix of foods very enjoyable even if a tad on the large side.

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More street entertainers have set up as we head back, so it is very much like Covent Garden. You have the silver or gold sprayed statues that stay absolutely still, you have jugglers and various bands playing music. And then, racing Guinea Pigs. I mean, what on earth is that. So I stop as you do, and there is a load of overturned Tupperware boxes with holes cut and numbers written on the top and the game the public bet on a Tupperware box and a Guinea Pig is picked from the group, placed down and off it walks to its chosen pot. How random.

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We return the bikes and get a car instead and drive to Monserrate, Bogota’s proud symbol and at 3150m, a great view of the city.

There’s a church at the top, a major mecca for Pilgrims, also some food outlets, a restaurant and a small market area for souvenirs. There is 1500 step walk, however it is renowned for knife muggings particularly on week days, and I think it was closed today anyway. But best not to be in danger just for a trek hey!

The view is pretty amazing though, so worth the £5 return trip on the funicular.

On route back we pass hundreds of cyclists, young and old dressed up in old clothes from maybe the 1940s. We had seen them earlier in town as well, and it’s nice to see them again, they must have been cycling for about five hours. Great to see all ages involved in an event, happy, chatty, just an amazing bustling feel around them all. The bikes range from modern racers to old style, baskets on the front, unicycles, tandems, just every type you can imagine.

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After the wonders of Monserrate we head to the local flea market. Not sure I have ever been to a flea market to be honest, so it was quite interesting although I have bought enough ‘tat’ already this holiday and nothing grabs my attention particularly.

We walk around discussing Columbia in general, I ask about the stray dogs and he tells me the story about how the government didn’t like it so poisoned about 400 of them so that’s why there’s not many around at the minute. The streets are named Calles if they run perpendicular to the hills and Carerras if they run from North to South. We try the local ice-cream as it is apparently supposed to be lovely in South America, it’s no Rossi’s of Southend, but it was very nice. Its 2640m above sea level, the third highest capital city after La Paz and Quito. All fascinating.

Final part of the day is to drive up La Calera to watch sunset over the city. I do like a sunset and this was pretty good, although slightly marred by the clouds on the horizon. As you drive up there are hundreds of people parked up in various cafes overlooking the city, and I think we’re going to miss the sunset as I keep passing, passing, passing.  At 6pm the national anthem comes on, this is a daily occurrence all over the country. How very patriotic. But we finally find the stop he wants, the Beer Wagon, we head in and get a table outside our lovely open fire with half a view of the city.  He orders me a local drink-Canelazo, which costs a fortune I find out at the end, but was very nice. So the sun sets, such a wonderful day I have had with my Colombian buddy.

 

Now you don’t pay for the buddy but have to ‘tip’ what you think the day is worth. You get an envelope to leave money in, all secretly. I have no idea if I was too mean or over generous, but i was happy and paid what I thought was fair? Great programme though.

I check out the top things to do in Bogota when back at the B and B & B and decide on the Salt Cathedral, The Lake of Gold and if possible the restaurant Andres Carne de Res. The B & B owners Beatrix and Rick had offered a taxi driver when I needed one so I asked them if I could book him to take me to one or two of these locations, and within half an hour Beatrix has organised that I can actually do all three while I’m out, which leaves me time to peruse Bogota on my third and final day.

So here we are, day two, another amazing breakfast, local cake and sauce. Bless the taxi driver, doesn’t speak a word of English, but between my Google translate and his Google translate will get by during the day I’m sure.

We go back up the Le Calera hill, and today being a Sunday everyone seems to be out on their bikes. There are literally hundreds of people, good and bad abilities, young and old, cycling up on this apparently 10 km trip, it’s so great to see and no cars are honking their horns telling the bikes to get out the way. All the traffic just waits as the bikes have priority. I love this. And at the top of the hill where at the route finishes, there are bike stalls, cafes and hundreds of people milling around drinking, eating and socialising, what a great event. And apparently this is every Sunday.

 

So about two hours of driving later, slowed down by the cyclists, we get to do what we think it is the Lake Guatavita (lake of gold), however we find out that this is the nearest town and it is another 40 minutes’ drive to the entrance. There are some other people who have made the same mistake, some Brazilians who got off the bus there because they didn’t understand the Spanish driver, being Brazilian, and they ask if they can get a taxi, why not I say. Do my good deed for the day.

You have to walk around with a guide, she starts off saying she’ll translate to English for me after each speech, but then she gets bored and says she’ll do it at the end instead. I am the only English speaker here! So I try and muddle through picking up words here and there looking at what she’s pointing at, all very interesting. The weather is pretty rubbish, raining on and off so out comes the poncho again. Been a real godsend this holiday. I believe its even hot in the UK, how rude.

We passed a ceremonial house, look at plants with special powers/meanings, others that have been replanted, patterns on the paved floor and then we eventually get to the wonderful view that is the Lake of Gold. She talks about the greed of explorers who wanted the gold and how they have ‘broken’ the lake by their attempts to get to it. It is no longer a full circular glacial? lake but whether the story is true who knows. There are many stories about its history including how the gold ship in the gold museum was found in the lake as it was an offering by the Muiscas. Well worth a visit if you like views, although if you’re rushed for time not sure it’s high up on my list. But an enjoyable and informative trip none the less.

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Before I leave in the taxi I stop to have sweetcorn cooked on a traditional barbecue/fire. Probably the nicest sweetcorn I’ve tasted, love the street food. Off to the Salt Cathedral.

OMG, not sure if its the roads, the driving or I am actually not well but the drive is not good. I fell sick, need the window open to make me feel better, and then try and sleep for a bit.

Now this is something I would put on your list to visit if you are in Columbia and Bogota, it’s only about 50km from Bogota in Zipaquira. You go 180 metres underground, where 250,000 tonnes of salt have been mined and the chambers have now carved out. You walk through 14 chapels, representing the Stations of the Cross, Jesus last journey. The culmination being the amazing, awe inspiring mammoth cross, lit from the base up, like heaven itself.

There’s a light show, I didn’t think much of, a miner’s tour where you can be a miner for an hour, this was fun albeit all in Spanish. Pick axing away, walking in pitch black. If you manage to ‘mine’ anything you can take it home with you.

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There’s a 3D movie on how the chambers came about, fascinating for adult and children as its part in cartoon form, and then stalls where you can buy souvenirs, emeralds and photos if you’ve posed earlier in the tour.

So onto part three of day two. Andres Carne de Res. How do I describe it? I’m not sure I can do it justice. The town is like a Christmas light display but for summer. And as you walk in it is like something out of a Tim Burton movie. Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka. Madness. The menu is pretty expensive, but the food was great. I do look a tad weird as a lone diner here, but who cares. Not sure I’d come back, maybe if I was in a couple, but pleased to have been to see it.

What a busy two days. So pleased I’ve been here for a few days to experience all these wonders.

So my final day, and I decide to go on a walking tour to see the Graffiti of the city. At breakfast there is a lovely Dutch couple who are doing the tour in the morning, I’m going to relax first then head out. They are really exploring Columbia and seeing much more than just Bogota. I’ve never heard of the laces they mention, but how great to meet fellow travellers once more.

Today I am being brave, no guide or taxi driver. Just a map and directions. Well that was a mistake. I got so very lost! Wandering the streets of Bogota all on my own, probably not the best idea.  There are a lot of guards, police and their dogs all around the streets, so I felt safe, and asked police and security along the way to show me on the map where I was, and about two hours later, in the rain, arrived at my destination. All part of the adventure.

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The tour starts in parque de Los Periodistas, which if it was a sunny day I may sit in and admire, but I’m early and its pissing down so I head into a small little pizza place to get warm and dry but it really was quite lovely. Funny how random places end up being a real treat.

The Graffiti tour is amazing, a must do. We start with the political paintings where if you look closely you see pineapples that are actually grenades, (because they ruin the soil but are profitable), war flies, cocktails with guns painted in as the cocktail sticks. Paintings showing the oppression of rich on the poor. We learn about the gorilla rebels being killed for cash and locals being kidnapped and dressed like gorilla rebels so the soldiers can get this cash easily. 10,000 missing people over 10 years!

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Some of the artists go all over the world and are apparently famous in the art world. DJ Lu, aPC sting fish. They have their own tag/signature on their art work and no one ‘tags’ over them as they respect each other too much. We walk down the road a bit and move on to the more picturesque and happy pictures. Awesome pictures, animals, people, patterns. There are recycled green statues above the streets. 3D masks painted and stuck around the city. It makes you see Graffiti in a different light I must say.

 

My last purchase is a scrap book from a shop where they bind books n the old fashioned way still. I create a scrap book for all my travels so this is a cool place to buy one to use. It has that old fashioned book shop smell and is a pretty organised, although looking untidy workplace of books, paper and machines.

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Well, thats it. Pretty much all over, a month of awesomeness that I am not sure can ever be beaten. I finish my holiday with a cup of Chai in a café overlooking a parque, although if you can tell me what name is on my cup you are a better person than me!

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Remember the first cup I had, when I got my hot and cold muddled up in El Dorado Airport, Bogota!? Well what a way to finish, Monserrate in the distance, the locals milling around, the sun has even started shining for a short time.

Thank you Columbia for being a hidden gem of a place. England here we come, I am ready to go home as amazing as this has all been, and to see my beloved doggie zaccy….walkies!!

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To fly back to Rio or not?? And don’t cry for me Argentina! 

Back in Buenos Aires but for more than a flight transfer this time. I’ve checked all my WhatsApp messages and my lovely hockey girls have updated me with the victorious Team GB hockey. Fabulous that they are in the final how exciting. For me though I think the exciting and hectic time of the last few weeks has caught up with me, feel rubbish and have a cold that I seem to be fighting. Anyhow I have a day and a half in Buenos Aires and off to the hostel I go. I had checked with my Argentinian friend that it was in a nice area and she had said San Telmo is lovely so I should enjoy it. It’s the older part of town with cobbled streets and crumbling decorative facades all around. So into my taxi I get speaking my pigeon Spanish and off we head. Panfilo (from my Iguaźu trip) had warned me that it doesn’t feel like South America but in fact more like Europe. And he is quite right. High rise modern buildings adorn the streets around, not like the understated buildings I’m used to seeing on my travels.

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(From wikipedia)

So half hour later I arrive at my hostel ‘The Art Factory. Named so, because its covered with art throughout the rooms, eve the kitchen and bathrooms apparently. Sounds interesting and colourful hey. The hostel looks a bit dingy out front, but it is late and maybe it’s just the oldy worldly nature of the area making the streets look darker, and you have to buzz to get in, so at least it’s safe.

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It’s 10pm so no chance of exploring the area tonight even if I did feel in good form. Two flights of stairs with my ridiculously heavy suitcase (or is it my stupidly weak arm strength?) and it’s a welcoming reception. Boards and posters with activities for every day, maps to show you around the town and a fridge with drinks for purchase, artistic characteristics already around the reception and waiting area. So far so good. I check in, I don’t have enough cash and it’s a 10% charge for a card which is ridiculous, but they let me pay for one night now and get the rest in cash tomorrow which is very nice. I notice the signs of types of rooms and realise this is a real dorm style hostel. More for backpackers than the solo tourist suitcase traveller. Rooms of 6 with shared bathroom available! Hey ho.


I get to my room which is on the corner of the stairs to the bar, restaurant and kitchen. Think it may be a noisy stay? Rooms nice enough though, art on the walls, double bed, airy and a bathroom all to myself although not entirely clean. I immediately notice there’s no TV? How odd when I’ve not actually watched one for most of the trip and don’t need it at all! There’s a kitchen just down the corridor with a gas hob, whistle kettle and good old cupboards and fridge with labelled food. Last time I saw this kind of kitchen was on my travels down under where I stayed in hostels. There’s colourful art down the corridors, so it is quite unique.

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Well what a bloody awful nights sleep. I’ve never actually worn ear plugs but I have a set in my suitcase just in case, and guess what, I had to get them out to try and stop the noise from keeping me awake. People talking and walking around, doors banging nothing particularly malicious just a poorly insulated room. So my cold has hit big time, and feeling miserable!

I prefer to have days and activities or at least ideas planned. However for the rest of this trip I have no idea what to do at all which makes me less excited about the last few days. So having woken up I suddenly decide maybe I could fly back to Rio and watch the hockey final?? What an experience it would be? So I e-mail Flight Centre and ask if it can be done, look up flights that are about £300 so maybe it can and as I have nothing planned in Columbia what would I miss out on? not a lot. The issue I have is time as although it’s 9am here it’s 3pm in the UK and I don’t want to use my phone to call at £2 per minute so waiting for e mails will be the  issue with a time restraint.

Whilst waiting I head up to breakfast excited that is included, but that’s where the excitement died! Stale bread, cornflakes, weak squash, a variety of tea but no English breakfast (not that unsurprising) and a common room to eat in. It is however a very colourful common room, art on the walls, and there are a few others about so a bit of company of sorts, and you can order scrambled eggs so I do get something more tasty. Not sure why I’m moaning, at least I’m being fed!

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Fuelled up and ready for who knows….I head off out armed with a map of the city and the one plan that I will join the afternoon walking tour by the free walking tours company at 3pm. I pass lots of locals milling around, one with a pack of dogs it seems. past little cafe’s, supermarkets, shops, garages and bakeries. A very bustling morning in Buenos Aires.



I get lost, although find a lovely portrait of Eva Peron on the side of a tall building (which I later find out is the Social Development Building) then find my way to the riverside which to be honest may as well be London South Bank it looks so European.


I mean it’s lovely, relaxing and bustling and I head onto the navy boat on the river to learn about the Argentinian navy (although mot of the notes were in Spanish so i am really just looking at pictures and artefacts), and their dogs, but it just isn’t as exciting as being in other South American cities.

I’m also constantly wondering if I will be heading to Rio tomorrow and need to find wifi to check my e mails. I stop at a cafe who had wifi for a drink and find out it’s going to be £900 at least and that’s if the airline will let me swap destinations, not guaranteed!! Oh the decisions!! I eventually decide it’s just too much, although a gold medal hockey match to create history would be amazing, I just can’t warrant it. I have spent loads already, need money for possible fertility treatment and do wonder what my reasons are for going back? Is it the glory and jealousy I’d get from people thinking it’s amazing I’d changed my plans? Is it to try and get on TV again? Is it to see history? Probably a bit of all three!

I continue my walk around Buenos Aires, pass a school that has hardly any open space for the kids to run around in, get lost in the criss crossing maze of San Telmo’s streets (but there are worse places to get lost in to be fair, its very safe here) before finding my way to the walking tour meet point. I say criss crossing as it’s very much like Milton Keynes. The roads are like a grid and forms a checkerboard look on a map. 

That’s a school behind those bars!


A lovely local guide introduces himself, there’s about 20 in the English speaking group. A bunch of young travellers who have obviously met at their hostel, some Americans talking very loud, some couples and then me!

Off we walk down the Avenue de Mayo starting in a small park at the Plaza del Congresso, by the congress building. Walking down past the monuments, particularly discussing the Monumento a los dos Congresos with its triumphant Republic figures sculptured on top.

The pigeons, making it feel like Trafalgar square, were brought over here to help make it feel European. Nutters!! Who wants pigeons if they have a choice??


The young American girl is so bloody annoying even after five minutes. With her purple hair, stand out sunglasses and loud voice she certainly likes to be centre of attention. She screams when pigeons fly in front of her, when asked to wait at traffic lights she tells everyone she’s been hit by a car before so knows what it’s like. Some bouncy castles are in a play area and she starts telling everyone how she wants to go on them, ‘I love bouncy castles!’ Oh dear god. Shut up already!! (Miserable old English girl alert)


Can you guess which one she is?

This square has a few random grassy areas where dog owners walk their dogs for some greenery to sniff and scent. There are several statues with various historical stories that we are talked through. There are some homeless people sleeping in the shade, some locals out walking, the mismatch of light coloured buildings overlooking the square from the streets at the sides. It just doesn’t feel South American?


As we talk about the history of Buenos Aires and come across the topic of Evita I realise I’m wearing a Madonna t shirt. Completely by chance as I can’t be that choosy over clothes this late on in the trip, makes me look like some superfan!

A lovely American lady started talking to me as we walk around, she saw my Rio jumper so used it as a talking point. She’s a soccer coach and over here for a last minute two week break. Off to Cusco next so we discuss our travels, teaching and general life. I love meeting new people!

The tour takes us down the Avenue de Mayo. The variety of building styles is so fascinating, how some are Italian inspired, others French, and we get to look in a traditional and famous cafe, Cafe Tortoni, with its full length double doors, round wooden tables, huge floor expanse and Art Nouveau mirrored walls to give the oldy worldly feeling.

We stop at a fake Iguazu Falls water feature, funny when you’ve been already. If you haven’t it may be cool, I had to have a selfie anyhow just for the fun.


As we head across the main road through the city, Avenue 9 de Julio, we pass the opposite side of the building I saw whilst lost, with the Ava Peron mural, and we learn her sad story. She was the second wife of the president Juan Peron, and served as the First Lady until her death in 1952. She was also called Evita (the movie I’m sure most of you have seen) which is the Spanish language diminutive. The side we are seeing is the serious political face. It faces the North where the divide of the town sees the moneyed classes and the other side is the happy face facing south to the working classes, her preferred Barrios (neighbourhoods).


Our guide tells us that Argentina has the most public holidays in the world because of all the independence days it’s had, 19 public holidays in total. That there are 14 million people in the city. And that it the 1990’s $1=1AP so it was party time. Everybody was happy, rich and spending until 2001 when it all collapsed and the country has struggled to recover. It’s now $1=15AP, how mad is that.


The homeless are often those who lost everything in the financial collapse. Very sad.

We finish our walk at the Plaza del Mayo at the ‘Pink House’ where Eva Peron gave her last speech from the balcony and that famous scene in the Evita the movie. I must say it has heightened my interest in that movie which as yet I haven’t seen, and intrigued me on the history of Argentina.


A lovely afternoon learning about the history of the city. Well worth doing. Alison (my US friend) and I then head off to find a restaurant for some dinner although really a bit too early for it in South America being only 5pm. As much as I’d like to see a tango show, neither of us has much energy, my cold is taking hold unfortunately and it’s really something to do with a friend not solo?

So we head back to the riverside I was at earlier, find a nice restaurant and order some steak. It’s fit for a family!! Three pieces! Lovely though and a lovely evening too. It even has an apparently Scottish Dessert which I try for the sheer hell of it. My Scottish friends back home have since commented that it is of course, pure fabrication. Nice dessert though.

The nighttime view along the river is quite lovely, especially with a full moon reflecting onto the water. Would be very romantic, and I did just sit an admire it for a while.

We say our goodbyes whilst hailing taxis. She is off to do a day trip on horseback tomorrow, I am off to Colombia, not the Olympics, although it is constantly on my mind.

Will tonight’s sleep be any better?

Well I didn’t need my ear plugs, so it’s either quieter, I’m knackered or I’ve got used to it? I have a an hour before taxi pick up to get some wine. I’m keen to take some home after the insightful wine tasting in Peru telling me Argentinian wine is the best and Malbec particularly. So I get 5 bottles and pack in my already heavy suitcase, and make it back just in time for the shuttle bus. At the airport I pick the wrong bloody check in desk. The man is an arse. My case is as usual over their weight of one piece at 23 Kg, but its passed through three flights so far without issue . He tells me I have to pay, gives me a ticket and sends me away. No discussions or help just matter of fact. At the payment desk it’s £50. Sod off am I paying that for a few Kg of wine. So I refuse, well plead poverty, which isn’t untrue. I head over for some help and burst into tears. The tiredness has definitely got me. The helpers were great, the man who checked me in, Laureno, not. He was rude to the staff, rude to me. Told me it was my problem and not his and i will probably miss my flight now. Anyhow I eventually had to trek over to the other terminal, collect my case, take out 5Kg, carry it as hand luggage and check the suitcase back in. What a complete waste of time. The hassle lost me an hour and a half but saved me £50 and I got on the plane in time. Result I say!


I even had time for a photo of me in my GB hockey top and GB flag to post as a good luck to the TeamGB girls in the final. Still a little unsure if I’ve made the correct decision not to go but what’s done is done.

Thank you Argentina for an insightful 36 hours, not my favourite destination in South America by far but interesting none the less. Country number 5 beckons on a 6 hour flight.

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The wonder that is Iguaźu!

I’m a complete nutter. I got to sleep at 3.30am after packing and the obligatory social media updates and have to be up at 6.45 to go to the airport. I have to say I’m quite disappointed I wasn’t #wheressam spotted at the super Saturday athletics? I was right by Greg Rutherford, at the finish line for Mo and Jess and in front of the medal ceremony for Mo as well. Shocking! 😜 
New airline today. Avianca until this point, the never take off on time airline, now It’s Aerolinias and let’s hope they don’t leave my luggage behind. In case of that eventuality, I have packed some essentials in my hand luggage! 

Ridiculously long queue at check in and I get a telling off from the check in lady as instead of the two bags and 46kg allowance it’s now one bag and 23kg. Mine is 25 but she lets me go, just forewarning me of future issues, how very kind. So country number 4 beckons, Argentina. This is where I nearly had another day in a bloody airport. I was e mailed a revised flight schedule and in my mad July I never checked it until the day before I flew. Note to self, check itineraries when they are sent!! I had suddenly realised I’d lost a day in Iguaźu to spend flying to a random airport, staying there for 6 hours before then heading back to Buenes Aires. What a ridiculous situation. I sent a stroppy e mail to flight centre and bless them they sorted it even though it’s really my fault for not checking! So I have an extra day in Igauźu and a day less in Buenes Aires now. 

At the airport I decide to buy some souvenirs. Kind of forgot in Rio with all the TV appearances. However my credit card can’t be used as its an Olympic shop-visa only (my credit card is MasterCard so not been that useful in Rio at all) and then my debit card doesn’t bloody work. I’ve had his issue a few times, their machines don’t like my card? Well money saved maybe! After a major strip with the cashier, leaving my bloody passport behind in my rage, I then find a non official Olympic shop and I can use my credit card. Hoorah.

However, ten minutes later whilst sat waiting at the gate I get a call from Tesco. There have been a few transactions declined including one for an obscene amount of money. What on earth does that entail? They read out transactions and nope, not me as one was when I was on TV watching Jess Ennis. So my card is cancelled, no more use for this holiday! Ouch. At least I’m not out of pocket though. 

The flight is into Buenes Aires then to Iguaźu and I sleep straight away, even before take off through sheer exhaustion on both flights. 

As we go to get off at Iguaźu there’s and argument down the plane, if only I could understand Spanish as it sounds hilarious, two grown men shouting abuse. I then get to the shuttle bus and duly fall up the step and practically into the bus, play it cool, play it cool!! Then to top it off I think I’ve left my passport in the seat pocket so jump off said shuttle bus, just in time before it drives away and I have to try and explain to the security guard and flight crew. Just as I’m about to head back into the plane I find it. What a prize plonker I have been so far in Argentina! I arrive in Iguaźu fairly late, well it’s dark so feels late and from my research I don’t get a taxi but go for a mini bus. Half the price and they’ll drop me outside. Result. So off we head, I say we, there’s about 7 others in the mini bus. We pass lots of trees, shrubs, rainforest like in general. So much different to the bustling Rio. I already feel more relaxed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rio but I just got so drawn in by the atmosphere at the events and the thrill of being spotted on TV I just didn’t relax and was rushing from place to place by the end. Probably didn’t really experience Rio as I could or should of.

The first thing I notice in Iguaźu other than the lush greenery is their awful roads. Every intersection means a damaged road and the minibus has to slow down and weave around various potholes or in some cases huge craters.

Others are dropped off at an array of hotels and then it’s me. I am dropped off at what looks like a car port or garage forecourt. Black iron gates. Hey ho. How deceptive though. The owner greets me, carries my ridiculously heavy suitcase through various rooms and I’m at my apartment. It’s gorgeous. Kitchen, double bed, alcove for a dining table and chairs, lovely bathroom and thoughtful touches around the place. Candles to ward off the mosquitos, wifi info in a frame, tea and coffee available in a sweet little basket and toiletries already in the bathroom. And a shared courtyard with garden chairs and a table of my own. Makes both Rio apartments look dank and dingy! I’m going to like it here.

I’m knackered and in no fit state to go out for dinner so pop to a supermarket get essentials and a snack and just relax. I download an app called tunnelbear that the #superfans boys recommended as it allows you to watch English TV on the IPad. Well what a revelation that was. I’d of seen more Olympics if I’d known earlier. So I’m all set. Cup of tea, pasta cooking, and a lovely apartment. Oh yes and now with Olympics on TV on the BBC!

Tomorrow I have a day tour to Iguaźu Falls booked to see both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides and I’m being picked up at 8am. No rest for the wicked.

After an amazing nights sleep in the peace and tranquility of Iguaźu the excitement I have for breakfast cereal is unreal. My breakfast in Rio consisted of a banana if I was lucky. Not sure if it was because I was with others or the haphazard apartment but we didn’t buy any essentials. Very unlike me as I usually head out and get drinks, snacks and breakfast, as I do like to start the day with a breakfast so it’s absolute heaven to have one available today and with milk. None of that yoghurt from earlier in the holiday. I’m picked up by a car and taken to a coach. There’s an Aussie guy as well and we are sat together so the guide can speak to us in English after she has told everyone else in Spanish. Nice guy, Panfilo (such a fascinating name but only remember it because we are Facebook friends now, couldn’t remember it for most of the day). We get chatting to a Spanish lady as well, Carmen and an American family who are originally from Spain so fluent in both languages. I absolutely love that, what a gift. It’s bloody raining so out comes the poncho again. Lucky I packed that as a last ditch item as its been used more than expected.

The falls are just amazing, even if you are soaking wet already. You take a train up, then walk these long raised metal walkways, meandering through the trees and rock formations. You cross slow moving rivers, along bridges, there’s evidence of old walkways washed away across the water, and when you head out to see Devils Throat, it is just awe inspiring. It’s the most famous waterfall of them all, a U shaped waterfall which is 82 metres high, 150 metres wide and 610 metres in length. (Researched on Wikipedia!)

The force is just amazing. Not that it matters because we are soaking already but the spray from the falls would drench you. The sound from the water falling and hitting the rock pools below is deafening. In fact hard to explain at all. Look for yourself.


You can see a pink building across the falls which is Brazil. The pink building is a hotel, and apparently colonial in style. The Argentinian hotel down the bank a bit is very 60’s in style, boxed sections jutting out with large windows and all very angular and quite ugly really.

Everyone is vying for the selfie shots, lots of selfie sticks around. Panoramic pictures being taken. Official photographers try to get you to buy their photos. Very busy but calm, as it should be. Our guide rushes us along and we continue along more walk ways. See falls called The Two Sisters and Adam and Eve. We learn about the falls themselves. The name “Iguazu” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words meaning “water”, and “ûasú meaning big. Legend has it that a deity planned to marry a beautiful woman named Nailí, who fled with her lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. Very Romeo and Juliette hey!

We see various animals, Coati (or Quati, in Portuguese) is the symbol of the Iguazu Falls and can be found in some countries in South America, Central America and North America.

They are easily mistaken for a raccoon with its black circles on its tails. They are everywhere, in bins, circling your feet. Vultures flying around above us and what looks like a magpie, a Blue haired Jay. Fascinating. I’d been recommended the boat ride by the #superfans the Hardmans and so when I ask the guide I now have a choice of doing my Brazil side tomorrow and the boat ride this afternoon or sticking to be original plan. As I have that extra day in Iguaźu I may as well plan for it so boat trip it is. 

Four of the others are doing it, Panfilo, Carmen and Alex one of the American boys, so it’s a fab bunch to be on they trip with. We head down to the boat docking, you get soaked (the Hardmans had forewarned me, so I have spare clothes) so you get given a waterproof bag to put all your belongings in. We put our shoes in too but then get told you have to have footwear on to get on the boat so we have to get them back out. Flip flops are the key here! We are drenched from the crap weather anyway so it’s not the biggest deal.

Well it’s hilarious. You literally go into the waterfall and the water just gets everywhere. It goes down the head hole of my poncho and straight into my bra and knickers. Lovely! Then we get a speed boat ride down some small Rapids, which would ordinarily dry you but just makes us freezing cold. Still loved the thrill though. But all in all despite the weather it’s fabulous fun. 

There are no changing rooms, a mere box of a toilet with a door the height of a 9 year old child, but I am shivering so change quickly into my dry clothes, well all bar the shoes which I can do nothing about. 

Now for a ‘jungle tour’. Well in the loosest term. We sit in a huge monster truck style jeep to go through the jungle and listen to a guide telling us what can be found in the various trees and shrubs. We see nothing, well lovely fawner and flora but no animals to speak of. So rather underwhelming if you had booked it expecting more, as it’s an extra for me I’m not so fussed. Interesting enough.

Time to shop, eat, peruse at your leisure before we head back so I get a hot chocolate. I know, you’d think a beer or something exotic whilst travelling South America, but I’m bloody freezing, my feet are numb. Panfilo loves empanadas (a South American small pastie) and has four? I’ll definitely have to try one later. So we head back and tomorrow my plan is to go to Paraguay (another stamp!!) then back for Brazil waterfalls. I have to pay for the additions so we are dropped at their office first (in the middle of nowhere) before heading back to our accommodation. The Americans are in a posh hotel, I again am in the poorest looking one but I know it’s like a secret garden back there. I’m so tired from being cold all day I can’t face going out for a proper meal so I head to a snack bar and try some chicken and beef empanadas to take away. So back at the apartment it’s fizzy pop, pasties and Olympics on TV. I mean, what a luxurious life I’m leading. Love it though.
7.30am and after another still exciting breakfast, I’m in a minibus with a non English speaking driver who hands me his mobile to speak to the guide from yesterday. She says as I don’t speak Spanish and the driver doesn’t speak English it would be unsafe for me to go to Paraguay. It is only for shopping, it’s where Argentinians go to save cash on electrical items as they pay such a high tax. I just want a stamp. So my plans have changed again and I’m off to the Brazil side this morning and an animal park in the afternoon. 

Turned out to be a great decision as the others (minus Panfilo who is on his way to Peru now) are all on the same trip. I also got more stamps as when travelling from Argentina to Brazil they stamp you out and then in, then out then in again. Silly but I do love a stamp! And I found out that you have to stay overnight in Paraguay to get a stamp there anyway!

We stop at a huge shopping mall that sells all kinds of souvenirs. I get some more Olympic items, memorable little items for my collection and have a look at some of the stonework on show. There’s an amazing rock table that’s a mere £7000. Jewellery that is amazing to look at, a rainbow of jewels that I would love as a bracelet also a mere £3500. How the other half live! 

So at the start of the Brazil side and the walk starts at the pink hotel we saw from the other side and it is pretty amazing. The view from that hotel is second to none. It must cost a fortune. No guide hurrying us along today, she sets us off and wanders off but with a meet time in one and a half hours. Is that long enough??

The falls from Brazil in my opinion are the best. It’s sunny so that helps, but the view is spectacular. The Two Sisters  are in full view, Adam and Eve (we saw them all from the top yesterday). There is only one walkway, a long one to be fair, but unlike the Argentinian side where there are walkways on different levels. You encounter those rodents again along the way, they are heading in and out of bins trying to grab some food, there are various view points for a nice photo along the way and we can see (and hear) the boat ride we went on yesterday down below, looks as fun as it was , and that  final view is the money shot. There are 275 falls and from Brazil you see them much better as you are opposite them not above the most. It’s definitely a cattle market to get to the best viewpoint at the end of a narrow walkway, but worth every second of the wait. We spend our time admiring the views, group photos, single photos or literally just watching the waterfall rainbow created by its spray and then back to reality when the guide shouts at us that if we don’t leave now we have to get a taxi. Oops! Only 15 mins late. 

She is in a real strop, marching up the steps and ahead. We on the other hand are like naughty school children chuckling behind her. 


On the bus back she is just pan faced staring out the front. We just giggle away. 

Carmen has brought some wrist bands from Brazil and gives each of us one. The theory behind it is, the person who gives it to you ties three knots. After each knot you make a wish. When the band breaks naturally the wishes comes true. I have one from Karen in Rio for team GB and I made three wishes then as well, it’s the Aldi special bands they were selling, I also have one from Nepal two years ago, two I brought on these travels Rio and Cusco and now this extra one. Love it!! Three wishes made once more. Bracelet buddies (friends analogy for my fellow friends fans). 

Carmen and me are off to the animal park whilst the others go to their hotel. We say our farewells but hope to meet for sunset over the tres frontiers later.

The animal park had some amazing animals, but I’m not that keen on them being caged having been lucky enough to see so many wild animals on my travels. I mean what’s the joy in seeing an Eagle caged? However it was informative and some animals have been rescued and can’t be released.

So back on the bus and we head home.

As Carmens apartment is round the corner from mine we agree to meet later to walk to the tres frontiers to watch sunset. Lucky she was with me as I would have got lost. I have some postcards to post on the way, and you’d think it would be easy, but no. A dying art postage is. Carmen asks police officers where the nearest one is and it’s a bit of a maze to get there but we find the post office. No actual post boxes apparently. Then along the road that follows the waters edge, so Brazil is opposite us, gleaming with its tree lined banks of the river. It’s bloody hot and I’m regretting my jeans right now. Although it gets cold at sunset, so patience?? 

I spot a make shift campervan, woman and dog sat chilling, the man with his beer. Very envious, that’s the life. They have loads of cactus in their front window, a bike tied on the back and water tanks, ropes and tarpaulin covering what I’m sure are essentials on the roof. 

We pass two little kids with their scruffy clothes and dirty faces, happy as anything. Running down the street, sliding down the dirt hills and off down the street. If only our British youth were all so easily pleased and not vain at all.

We continue our walk and when you arrive it’s a chilled but excitable atmosphere awaiting the sunset. There is a pillar painted white and blue (Argentinian flag), many little shops in the wooden shacks that house them. Restaurants overlooking the water, three tiers of viewing platforms with shiny metal barriers to lean on. Over the water you can see the Brazil pillar in green and yellow, there is what looks like a seated auditorium on the waters edge, seems odd as I’m not sure how many people would need to sit there. The Paraguay side has a pillar in its red, white and blue and a boat dock. The least aesthetic of the three it seems. 

There are some local fishermen in their wooden boats out on the river, lots of people milling around, and on the bottom tier locals with their handy crafts out on tables or cloths to sell to the tourists.

The Americans find us just in time and we all take some photos, then watch that beautiful sunset. A Busker plays stand by me and it’s just so relaxing. And great to be with new friends. 

We head down to the traders and the two little boys are on a stall with their mum. Bless. I buy another wrist band, Argentinian colours, and get Alex to tie it on for me and he buys a similar one which I tie on, if only he was 10 years older!! (He’s 23!!) and I buy a key ring for my mum so souvenir buying is sorted.

We say our goodbyes again but then decide to get on the bus with them and head to the centre of town for food. I am so pleased I am with Spanish/English speakers as I’d be lost getting on the bus. It goes to town but not where we want exactly so need directions where to get off and where to go. 

Third and final goodbyes to my American friends and I have been offered a place to stay if I head to the USA and Ohio I think! Then off for what was an amazing meal. A restaurant called Color, sat outside in the warm evening air, live music being played (stand by me again at one point), the restaurant starts empty but fills by the time we are eating, and I have a lovely steak meal (I have been told the Argentinians are renowned for their steaks) and it was spot on. What a day, what an adventure here so far.


Carmen is flying to Buenes Aires tomorrow and I have my extra day. Not sure what to do yet but will decide in the morning.

So last day, well half day. Minibus picking me up at 2.30pm for my evening flight. I decide to walk down to the tres frontiers myself and see if I can get a boat trip sorted. I’m very impressed with myself as I find it in one go, although different route than I had expected. I’ve noticed they also have stray dogs like Peru and Bolivia, just not so many. But to ease the issues of them going through the trash they have bins up high out of their reach. I’ve since been told they poisoned about 400 not so long ago as a new president or whatever the top man is called didn’t like the way they make the country look to tourists. How awful! 

As I arrive at the tres frontiers a tour seller is there waiting as if by fate, and offers me a boat ride for about £3. I’m with three excitable older Argentinian ladies but they are very friendly in their Spanish conversations. The boat trip starts a good 30 min walk away and I’m in my bloody jeans again as had to check out! Hooray for some cloud as we walk. When I get there a large boats greets us, very posh, upper and lower deck. Nope, not ours. Ours is the smallest one hidden around the corner. Ha ha, never mind. Just the four of us, life jackets on the boat but no need to put them on? It’s a very relaxing boat trip down the Iguazu river. We pass some local kids and adults fishing on the river banks. 

We head under the bridge connecting Brazil to Argentina, then turn around and head to the tres frontiers. We literally stop in the middle of three countries, no idea which one we would be in, I would like to say I’ve been to Paraguay as I’ve been in its waters! Making that country number 5, but not sure that counts. 

Then we head back down the Iguazu and back onto land. Lovely way to finish the trip, relaxing, beautiful and unique. I walk back, get lost a bit but manage to find a map and get back on track. I wanted to find a nice cafe to have a snack in but the first one I try firstly has no snacks then none of the juices I want. Next stop…I try the cafe Carmen frequented, I order what I thought was a crepe and a juice but apparently only the juice. And it was a real pain. You order, get a receipt, queue to pay for the item, get the receipt stamped, take it back to the counter and they then bring your order. Can’t be doing that all again so I finish my juice, use the facilities and go and sit in the gardens of the apartment to relax before my pick up. 

So I’m off to Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina and have no idea what to do there. Just one day, and I’m starting to get a cold. Well let’s hope that’s all it is. I did get bitten loads a month ago in Bolivia so let’s hope it’s not Zika!

I had intended to watch the GB ladies hockey semi final at the airport. Had my iPad and headphones ready but the damn wifi is crap. And on TV there is bloody weightlifting. So my hockey buddies from home have been instructed to what’s app me the progress. Looking good as they are winning when I get on the plan. #teamGB. The view from the plane is awesome, sunset followed by the nighttime view of Buenos Aires. And so on to the next chapter. 


Standard

How did I sit next to Jess Ennis’s coach?, Murrays semi and Super Saturday

Picture this, it’s 1.30am I open the apartment door and Chile man jumps up in just his undies in the lounge, with Anamaria sprawled out on a make shift bed, puts his finger to his lips to say shush and runs away to the box room. I mean what is going on?? I look in Anamaria’s room and she has a huge mountain of clothes on her bed so couldn’t sleep on it. Now Chile man has gone to the box room by one bathroom I am a bit scared to head round there so use the other shower right next to the girls room just hoping it doesn’t wake them. Well that was the least of my problems. The drains are just clogged up here. I’m pretty sure it’s because we put toilet roll down the toilets in her apartment (in case you didn’t realise, nothing can be put down the toilet out here) as she has no bins, and therefore surely must block the drains? Anyhow, as I am showering the water is not clearing away and is now ankle height. I quickly get out and notice the water is now seeping out of the newly fitted shower tiles (creating a shower rather than a wet room) an toward the door. The towel I put down to soak up said water is saturated already. It’s 2am, what on earth can I do?? I decided nothing!! And it is draining away slowly. If it’s leaking downstairs again then we will get a phone call so I just go to bed!! So it’s Friday, I have today and tomorrow left. It’s gone by so quick, probably because I just haven’t stopped. Michelle and Lindz leave early doors tomorrow and we have volleyball tickets together tonight and hopefully I can get beach volleyball as well to go with them to that to.

But first….its athletics time. Jess Ennis-Hill defending her title and I have morning tickets for the first day. I had the exact same tickets at London (although with the arse of an ex husband who complained I didn’t want an alcoholic drink at 9am and that we couldn’t see anything as Jess was the other side of the track, hence being the ex!!)

So up early as can not be late for this, Anamaria is awake as is Chile man. Anamaria has offered me the use of her phone to try and get hold of ticket tout Lee but true to form she has no credit on her phone, this woman never has cash or credit of any kind. No idea how she gets through each month in her nutty, haphazard lifestyle. But she does with her token phrase ‘hey baby’ as a greeting or answer to anyone. One of life’s mysteries this woman! So anyway, we head to a pharmacy to get credit, on route I asked her about her Brazilian/Portuguese friends and what happened (nosey me!). They drank two bottles of Vodka without asking before we arrived which annoyed her, then the friend of a friend got offended by a comment Anamaria made about how her mum had started with nothing but has done well. Now who knows how she said it but the girl thought she called her mum a lowlife so they argued and Anamaria said leave then!! Fair enough, and they were staying for free although said they’d pay something. Hey ho.

As we are walking back Anamaria’s phone starts buzzing with messages now she has credit. She gets a what’s app and goes nuts, shouting a voice recording down the phone so loud everyone on the street is looking at us, and not just once but twice! It’s a lawyer from what I understand Oh dear god, I quickly say thanks and head off before she goes more nuts!!! She’s like a mad woman.


So I’m a bit later than I had hoped but on my way. The athletics stadium is a venue on its own which seems very odd when it’s like a blue ribbon event in the Olympics. The train is absolutely rammed when I get on it. I must of seen about 20 sellers on the train, now selling electronics and hair ties as well as food. Such a different world, and has been very handy for me with the lack of time to eat properly. 


The train passes through some Favela areas which are like you see on TV, brick houses built on any bit of spare land. Jutting out here and there, washing hanging from the make shift balconies of the building, no green areas to speak off just mud. Michelle and I had the discussions that although these people are poor, no doubt, if you compare to the slums of India, then they aren’t. They have bricks for a start, electricity and clean water. India have mud, metal and dirty water in gutters. 

There seems a lack of volunteers on this route. I panicked a few times as the train doesn’t have signs where to get off, when you get off one train there’s no one with their ‘foam’ finger pointing you where to go so I’m relying on following the masses, but I make it and as you get off the train the huge stadium is engulfing your view straight away. 


The queues aren’t too bad to get in, although it’s like a cattle market to get from the train to the entrance. I make a school girl error of stopping to get my Union Jack flag out (so patriotic) and put it on before I get of off the platform. Well what a mistake. I was then at the back of this cattle market going nowhere fast, damn it.

Into the stadium, it’s far too early for a beer so I just head off to find a suitable seat I go. I don’t even go near my seat, are you seeing a trend appearing? I look through the entrances to find where the hurdles are and just head around there. I get front row right inline with the hurdles start. There’s a large British crowd behind the start, positioned for the TV I presume but I want to be close to the action. Great seats. I meet some fellow Brits, one man who’s working out here but popped down for this event and two rather odd but nice enough blokes, one who looks like he could be from any Eastern European country with his half bleached blonde hair, light brown goatee and pale complexion, and his cheeky chappy side kick who is British through and through. 


We chat happily and watch the event. Katarina Johnson-Thompson is the first of the Brits out and does well in her heat, then the roar for Jess! Amazing. She wins her heat with a good time so a great start so far. I head over to chat to the large group of Brits but they are an odd bunch, not sure I’ll enjoy it here so I make a beeline for the empty seats behind the high jump. As I get there I realise why they are empty, althletes and officials only area and guards on some entrances. Not one to let that stop me, I head along a few doors and sneak in. I say sneak, I’m in a red GB hockey t shirt and Union Jack flag cape, hardly able to sneak anywhere. 


I spot the odd boys and head over to sit with them. Good view of high jump but near the second jumping area which is group B. Jess and Katarina are group A. So we get up and move over nearer that area. In front of us are Katarina JT’s family. How cool, and K JT heads over to chat to them. The odd boys have ants in their pants and Eastern Europe boy decides to try and befriend other teams and heads to Cameroon. So we follow. Then he heads to Holland. I’m now feeling a bit uncomfortable as he’s just being weird and I’m sure we’ll get thrown out. I spot some Brits in outlandish outfits and head to them down the front again. Nice bunch. A family of three men in Union Jack hats, love it! 


Then some complete nutters join us. Union Jack wigs and glasses, shorts and tops. A tad over the top maybe, but who cares!! They aren’t the most sociable pair, more about the attention they can draw. However when they make a move even closer to Jess Ennis I decide to follow as the three lads aren’t that chatty either. We couldn’t be closer to the action unless we were on the track. The man in front looks familiar, then I realise it’s Jess Ennis’s coach Tony. The nutty girls chat to him a bit, then the normal British man from earlier finds me and sits behind us to chat. And so there it begins. I’m behind coach Tony to start with, then I just sit next to him as why not. So I’m apparently on TV constantly, hilarious. 


The British guy behind me has data allowance so gets messages telling him he’s on TV. Whilst I’m with Tony, I get some high jump tips. He’s not happy with Jess’s run up. Its because she is running like a 50p edge rather than a curve. That stops her getting the best force to take her high. Even Tony gets messages telling him the commentators are saying how pleased everyone is about Jess’s jump except him with a pan expression. He does joke about it.

Well what a morning indeed, Jess jumps 1.89 a post baby PB, K JT gets 1.98 a High Jump record, and I was right in the mix. 


Heading back to the apartment so I can move to my next lodgings. Now despite my best efforts I haven’t managed to see my other friends staying out here, but they have said I can stay for the weekend and given me the address and the password to give to the door men. It’s only two stops away on the metro but with the busy Olympic crowds and my heavy case I think a taxi is better. As I get back to the apartment Michelle and Lindz the laughing at me, I’ve even been on Brazillian TV. Ha ha, funny. My favourite Facebook message that pops up is from Arbs our Ladies 2’s coach who simply writes, Sam wilkinson is ridiculous!! I am pleased to be getting out of the bizarre apartment, I mean it did us a huge favour and kept us safe but she really is a nightmare landlady. It’s always a pain to pack up mid holiday though but I keep telling myself that it’s saving me £150 so stop bloody moaning. Anamaria reckons she’s rented the room out to 4 people anyhow. We shall see??

So I head off to my new abode and it’s lovely. The little things that count. He has an information sheet on the board, wifi code, metro information, and general hellos. It has two bedrooms, a lounge with balcony which if you look around the corner you can see Ipanema beach from, a kitchen, laundry room and two bathrooms. In comparison to Anamaria’s place it’s heaven. Both on air bnb which I haven’t used yet but will. The girls are such messy bastards though, clothes everywhere and about 40 Olympic cups which haven’t been washed so have started going mouldy. I’ve got the small sofa bed, and they’ve left me clean sheets and it’s all mine. My other option was the ex Poms who I met the first night who offered me their spare room, nearer the old apartment, but I’ll be late home tonight after beach volleyball and would rather be alone for a change. Very sweet of them. 

Anyhow not much time to do anything but sort the bed out, get wifi and then head back to meet the girls. Anamaria is joining us for the evening, and when I get back and see her, it is a sight to behold. She has black with yellow striped Lycra leggings on with a black floaty blouse/top, her black sunglasses and wait for it…..silver trainers. In her own words Hey baby!


We head off for some dinner, I’ve made contact with the ticket man Lee and he has two beach volleyball tickets for us and will meet us later, so should be a good evening.

We get summonsed to a restaurant by a young waiter and it looks good enough so we head in. They have the Olympics on so we try and sit at a table so we can see it. Our waiter is adamant we sit elsewhere but we stand by our needs. It’s because he has set tables to wait on and where we choose to sit is not one of his. Poor bloke. We get chatting to an American, Anamaria particularly. No wonder she’s been married four times, oh yes and to men and women by the way. I forgot to mention that. She’ll happily tell you she’s bisexual along with many a story of living in New York for 30 years, how many apartments she has (she told these to the American man). She is such a character, you have to laugh and smile I just can’t cope with her in large chunks. She orders food as she’s starving but eats about a third of it and asks for a doggy bag. Only Anamaria would do that in that style.

Off to volleyball we head and it’s on the metro. Anamaria is clearly a taxi queen as when she tries to go through the turnstiles she puts the ticket in wrong and can’t get through. It’s hilarious. Just standing there waving her ticket. A local helps her and on we go. I forget how quickly I march around, and have to keep slowing down to be with the others. Probably the reason I gave myself tendinitis in my foot from marching in flip flops!


I lead the girls astray with my seating tricks and we don’t go to our seats but ones that are free and at the front of the section we headed to. Good view, good match, and Anamaria once more is chatting to the man next to her. We watch one match then head off for beach volleyball on Copacabana beach. We do get some strange looks as Brazil are playing next so it looks rude that we would leave but we do. Back on the metro and Anamaria has got the hang of the tickets this time. It’s a bit of a walk to the beach volleyball arena but we get there I get the tickets and in we head.

We again ignore the seat numbers and head to my seat as its the best of the bunch. We find four sets free and settle down for the evening. You’ve guessed it, Anamaria chats to the man next to her, Hey baby! 


I head off for a drink and the toilet and return 20 mins later. Now something the Brazilians need to invest in, is hooks on toilet doors. It’s not a major thing but when you don’t have use of them you really do notice. I mean who knows what is on the floor in the toilets and to have to put your bag on the floor every time you pee is slightly annoying! 

When I return to the seat Anamaria is wearing the mans coat! It is just a never ending hilarious story with that girl. She could be the storyline for a sitcom.

I have to say I was slightly disappointed in the beach volleyball arena. I was lead to believe (and from sugar loaf the view of it looks so) that you had the ocean view out of a quarter of it but from where we were sat no view at all. Maybe up higher over the top of the TV broadcasting studios maybe there was, in the cheap seats??


The matches were good though, good crowd of Americans in and pretty full. The girls are up early for their flight home so leave early. They are off to Costa Rica for another selfie of the world before relaxing in a 5 star hotel in Cancun, Mexico. Nice. Anamaria stays to chat to the man but then bizarrely started getting paperwork out of her handbag, as if she wants him to ask about it? He is watching the volleyball and ignores her and then it is all over. I thought here would be a third match but only two. It is now 1am mind. The man takes his jacket and heads home, alone! Anamaria then heads off after saying our goodbyes, I won’t have anymore hilarious situations to be a spectator of now. Quite relieved though. So that leaves me to loiter around, getting some photos. I see a load of people getting selfies with this tall black guy in an American kit. So I head over get a selfie and hope someone will know who he is!! 


Probably in hindsight wasn’t the best idea to then walk home alone along Copacabana at 1.30am. (There were knife attacks a few days later!) but I did and this is where the extra 20 min journey to the new apartment is a slight pain as I’m ready for my bed, but it’s free!

So I’m at the apartment, I have to be up at 6am as I’m doing the Rio Park Run with Dame Kelly Holmes at 7am on Copacabana beach. Now I really could do with some sleep but it’s not every day you can run with an Olympian, on Copacabana, so I’ll just sleep later in the day. I eventually get to sleep at 3am after social media etc! What a plonker.

I have to run to make it on time but I do. Kelly is there with a crowd already. Phil Jones is there as well so an Olympian and TV pundit, two for the price of one! I use my new TV tactics and get near the front for the official photo and for the live TV feed. 


And then we are off. Kelly has an injury so isn’t actually running but starts us off. The hockey girls family are here and say hello, as are one of the #superfans boys Greig and the family who were on the live TV show with Clare Balding. Small world of British fans it is. Lots of club running tops on display, as if I’d bring an actual club running top on holiday? I did bring a running vest in case I went for a run but never would of thought to bring club stuff?

Anyhow what a fun event. James Cacknell runs past us apparently, I didn’t see him. We run in the cycle/running path along the beach. The sun is shining, the waves are crashing on the beach, sugar loaf is in view for the second half of the run, people are cycling and running on this early morning, others are strolling along the beach. It’s really quite something, despite my insane tiredness. It wasn’t 5k as we just ran to the end of the beach and back, we think just over 4K but it is all fun. At the finish I spot Karen, she got lost so missed the start. Then we all vie for a selfie with Dame Kelly and mill around chatting. 


Fab event and pleased I got up for it. A group of us then head off for breakfast at a beach cafe. What a view for breakfast, couldn’t ask or more. Well my food and drink maybe! 


After half an hour my smoothie eventually arrives, but no sign of pancakes. All but two of us have our order and when we ask they just say it’s on it’s way. They must be making the flour as its not exactly a time consuming meal. Well after and hour and no food I decide to leave it. I have to try and get centre court tickets and need to head back to the apartment to change. Can’t get hold of the ticket touts? Slightly frustrating. So I just head to the Olympic park in hope. I pass a few Argentinians with signs held up saying ‘need a tennis ticket’, this may be harder than usual to get a ticket. The Hardmans are there and also hoping for tickets but they have cycling anyway so can get in the park. I have nothing. I eventually just call Wayne and he answers hooray! I can have a centre court ticket for above face value? About £125 but what the hell, it’s my last day here and centre court Wimbledon is more than that. The ticket touts have had a tough few days. Police have kicked them out the park and taken their tickets. I appreciate they are touts but these are official tickets that haven’t been sold. Brazil haven’t dealt with that issue and most are going for less than face value. The police kicked out the touts, and threw the tickets way. I mean what a waste. Wayne said they know they are real tickets because it’s a prison offence for fake so they would have been arrested. So Lee has headed back home to England as he has had enough (he was pretty moody last night), Wayne can’t go in the parks anymore and so we meet in the supermarket. He buys me a drink and cake to make it look less suspect and says he’ll let me know about athletics tonight but should be absolutely fine. I run in, past some more Argentinians desperate for the tickets as well) as the match has started. I spot the Hardmans who wanted tickets but wouldn’t pay over face value as they are hoping for finals tickets tomorrow. I don’t even look at my seat number, straight to the front row behind Murray again. Not many Brits around, bit quiet on my own but I have my flag, team GB t shirt and inflatable (although with a hole in) GB hand and make as much noise as I can. Let’s go GB let’s go!! 


I get a text from my mum, on TV again real close up of just me, apparently my sunglasses ruin the picture a bit though. (Sorry for just watching tennis in the glaring sunlight mother 😜). 


Murray won the first set 6-1, bit dull really, the second set was much better. Breaks of serve, longer rallies, and an awesome winning shot by Murray to get Match point. He wins 2-0 and so is in the final. Hooray! Without the huge GB crowd of last time he doesn’t head over for autographs to my side this time, shame.

The second match was Nadal v del Potro. Oh my god, what an atmosphere. The Brazilians cheer for Nadal, they hate the Argentinans. There are loads of Argentinians in here and the noise is immense. Songs and booing from either side. Amazing as a neutral. Fantastic match, although not sure Nadal is on his game and del Potro wins. What a final that will be, may be hard to get tickets though. 

So I was out to wait for the Hardmans. The BBC crew are in their usual spot so I wait beside them. I hear the TV so ask if I can watch it with them. They say yes so I sit there watching BBC with the backstage crew of BBC, very surreal. The cycling is on and we just won Gold for Laura Trott. Fab. One of the TV crew is a security guard and has just had a message from a friend that there’s been a 20 man knife attack on Copacobana. How stupid was I last night??!! Apparently though this is typical Saturday afternoon, not the best day to go to the beach particularly in the evening. There goes my evening visit to ipanema beach then. I text the Hardmans and they’ve bloody left already. Damn it. So I leave my new BBC buddies, grab some cash from the ATM and rush off to meet Wayne who says he is at the bus station. I get my athletics ticket below face value so gain some tennis money back and head off to my last event and hopefully three gold medals as it is Super Saturday! 

The #superfans have a spot by the long jump so we can see Greg Rutherford. Greig has a front row seat by Greg Rutherfords coach, how rude….that’s my spot!! Ha ha. We all settle in but slowly get moved one by one as the actual ticket holders want their seats. Greig keeps his, I keep mine with the two other lads but the Hardmans are moved so just sit in the isles! 


Greg waves at us as we cheer but it’s not his night as he gets bronze. We haven’t been able to to follow Jess Ennis on javelin as she’s too far away and it’s not really shown on the screen but it’s not great we don’t think. Mo Farah comes out ready to run and what a race. I am slightly worried when he is at the back but true to form just takes it a lap at a time and wins easily. We didn’t know he had fallen until we saw the replay on the big screen! 

So time to move now those two have passed. We head to the coaches area but this is now heavily guarded. We do get further down but not a great view of the race, although we would see the girls with their flags at the end. We spot the lads and Karen at the finish line area so we head over. Spot Mo being interviewed, wave then run on. We all get right by the finish line, excellent. And a bonus we can see Mo’s medal ceremony as well. 
Jess’s final race is here and she needs to win by 9 seconds to keep Gold. She’s miles ahead but one girl counts and it’s only 7 seconds. Her javelin left too much to do and it’s silver. Gutting. We see the lap of honour, cheer and sing the national anthem for Mo then are on the move again to find BBC. We get to meet K JT who stops for a selfie, Jess who does some but not one for me as she looks close to tears and Michael Johnson who is in no mood for photos and walks on by with a simple No. 


Having loitered for so long it’s now 12am and not many spectators around in the stadium to follow out. We get a bit lost finding our way out the stadium, end up walking down a dodgy road and being stared at. The Hardmans are desperately getting their face paint off so they don’t look so obvious and we all hide our GB flags, hats and hands in our bags. We get on the train safely and that’s it. 

Well what a night, what a week and what an experience. That’s my Olympics over. Fab friends I’ve made, onwards and upwards to country number 4! 

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The tricks to get on Olympic TV, Christ the Reedemer and Team GB racking up the medals!

A free morning beckons. I had asked the girls if we could all do Christ the Reedemer together today (seeing as we have come to Rio as a group?) but they went yesterday. Michelle had checked the weather forecast and it was good so off they went. Pictures looked lovely, and just as well they went yesterday as when I woke up today ready to head off it was bloody raining. Can you believe it, all the way to Rio and it’s like being in the UK! So I roll over and go back to sleep for a few hours (much needed as well). I mean it’s not like I can go to the beach and enjoy Copacabana for the day.I have Archery tickets for later but have been offered diving at a reduced cost from the lads I met at the tennis and not sure I fancy Archery in the rain.

So after my late wake up, the girls are still asleep or maybe out, who knows. I decide that I’ll give Archery a miss in the rain and go for the diving instead. Love a bit of diving and as in the papers there has been talk about the green water the divers have to dive into I feel I’d like to see it, didn’t look that green yesterday? I leave the archery tickets on the side in the apartment for the girls, leave them a message and head off. First a relaxing morning walking along the sea front taking in the sights and scenes. The rain has stopped but the grey clouds are looming, and there isn’t the busy bustling feel that you normally get down here. A few traders out but not many, enough for me to add to my bracelet collection and get a Rio green and yellow band. A few tourists about but not hoards so quite easy to get pictures at the Olympic signs. There are quite a few beach artists working along the beach, they really are quite talented and the heavy downpour can’t of helped keep their work in tact.


The Olympic Rings are down the beach volleyball end (we got a nighttime picture when out for dinner a few days ago) and are also down the TV broadcasting end as well which is where I have headed this morning. It’s such a shame that the locals don’t respect them. This one has a large chunk missing from one of the rings, in London, anything Olympic we were so proud of. 


On the seafront there’s orange Boris bikes, the trend has taken off. Lots of people are out exercising on the bike lanes. Runners, cyclists, a few skateboarders even in the rain, nice weather for it really, cooling! Other than that, nothing more to see. Russia has their ‘house’ at one end. Each country has their own ‘house’ where corporates are invited and Team GB athletes also can socialise. I haven’t managed to find the GB one but I have heard that they are quite posh and not for every day Jo Public. One of the nutty girls who are staying in the apartment as friends of Anamaria, had been invited to the Italian one, and she is one of those girls who looks stunning even when she’s just woken up. She felt it was a rather stuck up and posh event so I’m not sure I’d fit in. I haven’t said much about the girls but it’s worth explaining. They are Brazilian I believe (maybe Portuguese?), very attractive with their flowing dark hair, model figures, quite J Lo esk, dark skin and perfect smiles. One is anamaria’s friend and the other is a friend of the friend. I think they had my room before we came to stay as there’s a random pink bra in the room. Now they sleep on the floor or in the box room depending on their mood but their suitcases are in the lounge and they just get changed in there in front of us mid conversation. The friend of a friend was chatting to me, I turned to answer her question and she had her boobs out. I mean they were very nice boobs, no tan lines or anything but how very odd! Hey ho. Nice girls though. 

Anyhow I’m chilling on the beach and head for some lunch at a nice Brazilian Route 66! Free wifi, Olympics on TV and out of the drizzle. And a very relaxed and enjoyable lunch it was. First time I’ve had a proper lunch since I have been here. You just spend all your time heading from venue to venue and therefore eating whatever you can grab. Namely the local snacks sold on the trains.


The girls are awake back at the apartment, and going to archery so we may catch up later. Now trying to meet the boys with the diving ticket may prove difficult. All the #superfans I have met up with have data allowance on their phones or bought a cheap local phone. My 3 network barely works here some days and unless I want to pay £6 MB there is no bolt on package I can buy so without wifi I’m a tad screwed. We have a group what’s app which would be ideal ordinarily! Anyhow I have to resort to the old texting at 35p a go when not on wifi. As I didn’t want to be late to meet the boys I leave with plenty of time even though I’m freezing and feeling the need to head quickly to the apartment for a jumper or jeans? And as Sod’s law works I’m early and they are late so I could of popped home! But we meet and I lead them to the diving seeing as I know where it is having got lost yesterday. And true to form, we don’t bother sitting in our seats but gradually move along as close to the diving boards as possible and get front row seats right by the camera again. 

It’s not Tom Daley but the 3m synchronised men’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears. But it’s Olympic Diving, no idea if they are medal hopes but great to support them and see the green pool, and it is green. 


The weather is rubbish (might help the Brits, although when do you ever dive outside in the wind and rain), very windy, raining quite heavily at times. We are covered by the partial roof so we are ok. 

And so it begins. We notice another British group up the stands a bit with Union Jack bunting. That’s pretty organised bringing that. A random English bloke also wanders out of his actual seat and sits with us. We are like moths to a flame for single British travellers. He has a flag so all is good. The GB boys start well and continue to do well. It’s very encapsulating watching. The boys with me keep getting messages saying we are on TV again, how funny!! We are very enthusiastic and overly wave the flags, and I have my Union Jack blow up hand I clap and cheer with, with every intention of catching the cameramans eye to be fair, so it’s good to know its worked!!


The poor Brazilians have an awful dive, one completely out of sync but we all clap them. I think they get the biggest cheer of night (unsurprisingly as they are the home team, but everyone gets behind them), and it comes down to the last dive. 


We spot Tom Daley cheering the team on with the rest of the team GB athletes. An American is sat next to me, very chatty. He doesn’t know much about diving either but enjoys watching it too. The Americans last dive is amazing, almost perfect. Puts them in Gold medal position with two to go. Then it’s GB. An awesome dive too, we are all staring at the big screen hoping for a big score and it comes!! Pipped the Americans. Now down to the Chinese and we know they are awesome. They have a good dive but one slightly over rotates, again we are all watching the screens and cheer when they come third. Whoop whoop, gold for GB, and USA silver for my American mate to cheer.


What an awesome event. We go on the move once more for the medal ceremony and head behind the flag poles, and sing the national anthem with all our heart!!

I’ve come to the realisation the three lads I met are gay, as firstly they are very effeminate and secondly they were very enthralled by the Americans taking their tops off when being interviewed. One even said ‘I videoed the fuck out of that’. Ha ha, love it. Lucky none of the girls in our #superfans group were interested. 

That was quite an event and I’m not ready to finish the day yet so have set my sights on getting swimming tickets so I can see the Olympic pool and Michael Phelps. However I am bloody freezing, it’s raining and swimming starts in four hours!

Hey ho, I persevere and my luck is in. I end up chatting to a ticket tout from Norfolk and he sells me an under face value ticket. In return, without realising it, I help him sell to others by standing around chatting as I look less dodgy than him with my GB flag wrapped around me. I get his number for future tickets then head off to buy a jumper as I’m just too bloody cold. Rio 2016 one it is, and only £30 so not bad at all. I’ve commented before that the food is awful in the parks. I am in need of something so tried the Pizza for a change, oh dear me. It looked like the size of the pizza in back to the future when it was put in the microwave to be enlarged! Tiny bloody thing! 


Off to swimming and in my coldness and with a lack of any British groups to be seen I do actually stay in my seat for once, cheekiness is missing this evening. (I’ve since found out it I had gone for a wander I could of met Rebecca Adlington, Mark Foster and the Blue Peter girl I forget the name off). GB had a few swimmers, won a bronze, Phelps won his medley Gold, it’s a great atmosphere although cold for a swimming pool as its covered but only by material all around so the draft comes in, and I headed off before the last race so I could get home on the metro. It shuts for our safety at 2am and as swimming starts at 11pm! 


It’s now 12.45. I get in at 2am having first walked the wrong way down the road coming out the metro, past some dodgy streets, homeless people and in general not feeling the safest. Realised my mistake after 5 mins! 

When I’m home there is something not quite right with Brazilians and Anamaria. She is pissed as a newt (two bottles of wine apparently) they are arguing, she tells the friend of a friend not to show her lying, ugly little face to her again???? The other one looks awful for the first time. No make up on, looks sad and jaded. There’s a random Chilean guy who come over the other day still here and Anamaria is asking him to stay. It’s all very uncomfortable. The Brazilians look like they are packing up so from the looks of it they are being kicked out at 2am. I dive into my bedroom to get away from it all. 

Thursday and I actually have no tickets at all for today. The girls have water polo and are up and out before I get up. The sun is shining so I am off to Christ the Reedemer. The Brazilians cases are gone so they must of left, Anamaria is awake and seems rather depressed so I just chat along as normal and try and make jokes? 

I need a new selfie stick seeing as mine is in a bin in The Deodoro Olympic Park! But can you find a street seller when you need one? Nope. So I head off without one. It’s about £35 to get the train up and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. I think I spotted the Nutty Professor or maybe Albert Einsteins great great great grandson on the platform?



It’s a very steep journey up, and even on the mountain theirs a lad selling drinks. At the top it is utter madness. Filled with tourists all wanting that money shot. There are mats you can lay on to get the photo with you and CTR in. I ask an American who is already laying down to do my photo for me, she a very cool about it all bless her. Get an official picture taken as you get to hold the Olympic torch as well so that was an added bonus, and borrowed a ladies selfie stick for a few pics. All good! 



There is a restaurant up the top but it’s not got the views of Sugar Loaf. In my opinion Sugar Loaf is better. The view from up here is good, the lake with the rowing is below and that’s pretty cool. The view over the city, the mountains and Sugar Loaf is all great just not as lovely at at Sugar Loaf. But it’s CTR and that’s an iconic photo in itself.


So I don’t spend long up top, back down and decide to head to the park and try and get a cycling ticket. To save some cash I head back on the public bus. Good to try out all the public transport. 

Karen (volunteer with no role) is going cycling and has tennis tickets too so will meet me. Bless her though, she was so worried I wouldn’t get in she waited outside the park and didn’t use her tennis ticket so I could get in. In my subtle Union Jack cape I found a man selling a spare cycling ticket. He was off to handball which Brazil where in a semi final and just wanted to get some money for the cycling ticket, and it was a top band one. I only had 340BR as I was hoping for a cheap ticket and his was 580BS but he took what I had and ran. Result. The seat was front row on the bend and Karen just came and sat with me. 


We spotted Sharon Davies watching and headed over for a selfie and chat. She’s quite chatty, asked about the travelling and she found it so bad she just stays at the Olympic park all day now.


What an awesome event. Gold for team GB men’s team sprint, Bronze for Chris Froome and we were on TV apparently every time that medal was shown and I just had a great time. Go GB #bringonthegreat. We also hear Mat Whitlock got a bronze in gym as well, the other event I was interested in. It’s now called #welcomewednesday as team GB have started to rack up the medals.


So out of the velodrome we headed and the #superfans lads are by Clare Balding. We get asked to stand behind her for the live TV coverage, and again get on TV. The funniest thing is, the table she would normally present from is replace by a shopping trolley with her iPad and notes on, the camera and everything she needs. Quite a sight! What a mad day this is turning out to be. She is very lovely and chats to us all. The lads tell her they have kissed Catherine Granger and this gets put into a live link. Chris Hoy then joins in the interview and at the end we get some selfies, although Clare is in a rush and when the lads ask her if she could take the selfie as it would look better she tells them to piss off, in a jovial manner. #legend.


Time for the journey home, and hoping to catch up with my other mates who are staying in Rio and lending me the use of their apartment for the weekend so I don’t have to pay £150 for the unclean, drainage issue, manic, mid decorating apartment I am currently staying in. However they are in British House getting pissed so Karen and I have a meal (again first today) before heading home. 

Two days, three TV appearances, four sports, not a lot of sleep and I’m starting to get addicted to this getting on the TV game. #wheressam as its now called on Facebook. When I get in I finally see Michelle and Lindz, and just keep getting Facebook notifications (63 today) about my TV appearances. 

They managed Archery yesterday and loved it, although it was cold. And water polo this morning was good. It’s very weird hardly seeing them but we all seem to be having a great time! Love the Olympics. Think I need to stay saving for Tokyo 2020!

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Olympics, Sugar Loaf and getting on TV….twice!

So the itinerary plan was to head off to see the sailing at the marina. However as I have travelled lots so far due to the ridiculous distance between venues, an hour taxi to see dots in the ocean didn’t appeal to me. The others therefore got up early and headed off. I did wake up a bit upset that I’m on my own again as I thought we’d maybe do breakfast or something before they headed for the 1pm start. But never mind. I decide to head to Sugar Loaf as the others have done it already yesterday and their pictures look great albeit a tad cloudy yesterday. The sun is shining so looks promising. Taxi seemed easiest so off I head. He doesn’t speak English so I get my google translate out and all is good.
It’s not too expensive, about £20 for the cable car up. You can trek up the first part but I think I’ll enjoy some lazy time and enjoy the view. 

The cable car is in two sections. You get out at a middle station (sounds like a ski resort) and can check out the views, eat, relax whatever you want before getting on the second cable. I have met some very colourful Americans in the line. I ask them what they are here to see and realise they are a Christian group. So I get the chat about their beliefs, a free pin badge with the Olympic rings represented by fish and I am told what each colour means. The bit I remember is black is for sins, red is Christs blood, green is the growing of life after sins! I mean very interesting and they didn’t shove it down my throat. Although when they asked am I a Christian and my response was yes but not practicing, she didn’t seem to understand. They go to all the Olympics and hand these pins and bibles out trying to spread the word.

I manage I sneak away and into a cable car without them. The views are awesome already. I stop at middle station, take some photos. The selfie stick is very handy today. Sugar loaf is the view as we have not crossed over the water yet. The view is already spectacular. The deep blue ocean spread far and wide, the golden beaches curving around the bay’s. The marina with the array of expensive boats bobbing about. The city looking much cleaner from up above, hustle and bustle of the traffic and tourists stretching around the hills and bays. And then the amazing iconic Sugar Loaf mountain in all its splendour. A mix of rock and green from the trees, connected to land only by the wires of the cable car. A picture of natural beauty. The top cable car view is equally spectacular as you see over the marina, Copacabana beach, little beaches in alcoves you wouldn’t know are there, the mountains in the distance and just a view to remember.


At the top there’s a huge poster with pens available to write your name in. So obviously I had to. Then you just peruse at your leisure. I wander down some steps into a forest area, notice signs saying don’t feed the monkeys as they are a danger to natural species. As I sit for a bit of a snack out they pop, bold as brass, trying to get in my bag. I mean they look cute but what a cheek.


I wander around a bit more and can see the Olympic sailing and windsurfing going on. An American man and his wife are sat watching so I ask for some details. Bless him, he chatted away about how the blue were men’s and green women’s windsurfing. There were two sailing categories I only remember Finn? And he has binoculars so could see the flags of who was competing and winning. GB at one point. I take some pictures, zoom into the beach where the girls are watching and just then sit and watch for a bit. 


Simply stunning views of the whole local area. Love it. 

Time to head back down, and I decided that I am going to buy some hockey tickets for this afternoon as GB women are playing and the stadium was half empty. I don’t rush though and go to the little museum section to learn about the mountain and cable car. In the 1050’s ships that sailed to Rio would come across the mountain as their first view point and it would welcome everyone to the area.

In 1808 painters portrayed Sugar Loaf in all pictures painted so it started to become an iconic view. Then throughout the 19th century it became an icon with the cable car being built in 1912. A photographer climbed the mountain to photograph the views from Sugar Loaf and once this is available for everyone and it becomes a huge tourist attraction. There is an old and new cable car on view as you reach the top. The newer cable moved quicker and therefor made the mountain more accessible to tourists.
So history lesson completed, off to hockey. Now I know it is a ridiculous journey to the Olympic Hockey centre I can plan better and leave plenty of time. It’s quicker this time as I chose a slightly different route, and it’s saves me a whole 45 mins. Express train from central Rio which is absolutely manic but fun to experience. It’s a locals train and not new like he Metro. There are locals selling food and drinks on the train, shouting in Portuguese just like a mobile market. The train goes past favelas as we start in Cental Rio, one of the toughest areas I have seen. On the long walk from the station I meet some random Brits and they are family members of one of the players (Owsley) so I chat along with them. The army has their marching band out which is an awesome sound and more Christian groups try and preach to us but we manage to move along quickly!

So into the ticket office and lovely jubly I have a ticket but I have my selfie stick with me as it was a godsend up sugar loaf mountain. But you can’t take them into Olympic venues, so I am asking a chance I get a lax security guard and can bet it in, I’ve even taken it apart so one piece is on my camera case as the other in my bag. No such luck. I’m told I can go out and put in my car or something. Now that is a long way to go to save a selfie stick. I try a different security section and have now hidden it in my shoe under socks (I have my shoes with me in case I get cold feet). Nope, he made me empty bag out. Damn it, but good security is good today! So I have to throw it away. Ouch!!

Ah well I’m in and with time to spare, so off to get a beer and add to my cup collection. The purchase of food and drink is ridiculous. You queue to buy a ticket for whatever you want, the card machines only accept visa, some don’t work. Then you have to queue again to get the food/drink and it’s not always available at every vendor. Madness! They have no Sprite so it’s just beer today. I head to the Olympic logo for some photos, sit by the big screen to watch some swimming and then get chatting to another random Brit. She’s a volunteer and never seen hockey. Very chatty, very enthusiastic and she tags along with me over to the match. 


As I have a superior ticket we can head over to the dug out side of the pitch (no one checks your tickets for sections or seats here, you can literally try and sit anywhere!) and there we find a huge GB crowd. Great. We join them by sneaking into the bottom row of them all, and see the family of the players. Sam Querk (one of the players), boyfriend turns up in full GB suit, hat and drum. Let’s go GB let’s go, let go GB let’s go, let’s go GB let’s go. Chanting as we speak! Such a good atmosphere. I recognise a lady from the Venus Williams match as she had a cap and flag. I ask her if that was her at the match and yes I’m correct. How funny, small world!


The girls play great and we win. So much fun, and I teach my fellow Brit the rules as we go along. Lovely crowd. At the end of the match an Argentinian boy comes over to me to ask if we can exchange my GB hand flag for an Argentinian t-shirt. I just can’t bring myself to hand it over so say no. Karen, the lady I’d seen at the tennis says she has some spares so she will meet me tomorrow and replace, she couldn’t cope with the boys little sad face! 


Karen, my fellow Brit friend (can’t remember her name) and I retire to the long journey home and it seems much quicker when you have company. However the volunteer we were directed by sent us a bloody long way round. I know the normal route but he said to walk to a different station, just a five minute walk. Well, it was a 20 min walk, down a badly lit, unmanned road and I didn’t feel safe at all. We also had to ask for directions as it wasn’t a signposted route! The volunteer had been very excited to speak English but completely bloody wrong! We made it at least and I’m glad there were two of us! As we get off the metro we bump into some volunteers that Karen knows. Karen came out here to volunteer but hasn’t been given a shift, even though she was cleared. So she’s just watching instead. One of the volunteers she knows I recognise as I volunteered with her at the hockey in June. Small world meeting in a random street in Rio. She is a bit shocked though, when I say I’m here on holiday not to volunteer. Bless her, we had to joke with her that people do go on holidays and don’t always work! We head for some food as I’ve had a few beers and not eaten all day and head into Bobs burgers. Well, it’s a very cheap version of McDonalds. More Wimpy like and just not worth the calories!


So day 3 done. What will tomorrow bring?? 

Well the girls were asleep when I got home at 11, and still asleep when I got up for water polo at 8am so it’s becoming rather an individual trip for me and a couples trip for them. So water polo at the Olympic park. I’m getting pretty good at the travel now, so although it takes a long bloody time you get used to it. I’m late as it was a 9am start. But I’m just going to enjoy the atmosphere and see the games and venues. I get in and head to the aquatics centre which is the other end of the park but it’s all shut! Bit concerned as although I’m late it only 10am? I eventually find out it’s not at the aquatics venue but another swimming venue at the end of the park I just bloody came from! A lovely driver of a buggy let’s me take a ride over though, result! The water polo is in the same centre as the diving as when I sit down I suddenly see the diving boards at one end. A water polo match has just finished and it was a Brazil one so lots of people about and lots smiling. I get to see two matches including America who are pretty good. GB aren’t in it this year. It’s a brutal match. One of the girls would be swimming along with the ball, stop to throw and suddenly she’s dunked under water. Hilarious. They have a sin bin area at the corners of the area, marked with red swimming ropes, and I think they get 2 mins. Substitutes are done by diving in before the player coming off has come out the pool. The GK has a different coloured hat, other than that anything goes. Well clearly not deliberate dunking but tactical dunking maybe? I’ve been told under water is just carnage and it’s best not to know what’s going on under there.


On the way out we see some synchronised swimming being practiced in an outdoor practice pool. Odd sport but they are amazing. 


So I enjoyed my first water polo spectating and decide to see if there’s any tennis tickets available as Murray is playing. It is sold out so I literally loiter (with my GB flag around me) around the ticket entrance (it’s in the Olympic park so I’m already in), then wander to the box office and low and behold I get offered a ticket for face value. About £50. Fab. In I run, and take a seat ad spot Karen down the front. So I work out where they are sat and head down. Big GB crowd, 8 in total. A couple, both teachers, (the Hardmans) on their honeymoon, what a fantastic idea, and who have half their face painted each. Three lads from Manchester, two are teachers. Karen, a school sports coordinator, her flat mate Charlotte who’s volunteering, and now me. We are literally front row, behind the players seats. Couldn’t get closer if you tried. The Hardmans are asked to kiss for the camera so the two halves of the Union Jack create one flag. And the camera is on us a lot. The group all have data available out here and suddenly their phones are buzzing with messages saying we are on TV. How funny. Great atmosphere, we are very loud and Andy wins! And to top it all off he heads over after the match to say thanks for the support, signs some autographs, has some selfies and is really humble. What a day!

Not sure we can top that. 


I have basketball tickets for tonight with the girls. I kind of want to stay at the tennis as Nadal is playing and it’s about an hour away at the same park as the hockey! But it’s good to see different venues and spend time with the girls so. So I do head off albeit a tad later than I should of. Lindz texts me to say they are late but there, where am I. I’d forgotten the long walk as well so was an hour late, but enjoyed the marching band en route. I also decided to use my mobile to call the parents. Think the bill will be huge as both mum and dad chatted for ages, 20 min call?? Eek! My aunt had seen me on TV and called my mum to see if it was me!!

So I eventually got to the basketball, grabbed a beer in a new sport cup for my collection, found the girls and watched some basketball. China v Turkey. Michelle is funny. I don’t support either, just enjoy being neutral but she was torn between China as she loved being their recently and seeing the Great Wall, and loves the people. But also Turkey as she met her youngest sons dad in Turkey and although no longer with him wouldn’t have her son if it wasn’t Turkey. So she really struggled to decide and I actually don’t know who she ends up shouting for. Great match, Turkey surprisingly good! We don’t stay for the complete second match as all knackered and hungry. The food in the Olympic venues is shit, and expensive for what it is, so you end up not eating all day. Good diet!!

We head back, Michelle’s hip is hurting so get on a different route back, a train line right by the venue and saves that bloody long walk. How annoying that they don’t tell you to go there!! 

We find a restaurant near our apartment and enjoy some proper food. I think it’s my first proper food for two days, the Bobs burger doesn’t count! Nice to spend time with th girls this evening, although I see my new tennis friends saw Heather Watson as well after I left as they snuck onto number one court. 

When I check social media, Facebook was full of posts saying I’ve been spotted on TV again, it’s hilarious!! My friends have started a #wheressam game.

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Leaving the lovely Cusco and heading to the fabulous Rio for the Olympics

We have a spare morning before the flight to Rio and have promised the girls we would cook lunch for them as a thank you and goodbye so we head to the local market to get supplies. We were thinking Fajitas as we know they don’t get chicken very often as its expensive and it’s something fairly easy to make as well as pancakes for dessert. However we can’t find the flour wraps anywhere and don’t fancy making them. So rice and not too spicy chicken it is. The market, bustling as usual, with dogs roaming, kids playing, even a man using an old fashioned pedal powered knife sharpener was a joy to experience one lag time. We had to head down the meat isle for the first time today, and poor Michelle as a veggie did have an interesting time. It’s full of whole plucked chickens, complete pigs, pigs heads, and general parts of animals that haven’t been skinned or chopped yet. Very interesting. We go for the easy option and buy chicken breasts so we know what we’ve got. We are lucky we aren’t at the San Pedro market as it has live chickens you can have killed whilst you wait. That’s a step to far for me I’m afraid. The chicken costs four times what the rice and veg have cost, so easy to see why the girls don’t get it often. 

So off to cook. The mamita (mum in charge) is a different one today and had already started preparing as she didn’t know we were cooking, but was very happy to stop and let us cook. Now let’s give you a feel for the kitchen. A small dark room, no outside Windows just a window into the girls communal area. The room has the sink on one wall, an under stairs storage area that had no shelves but all the vegetables, cooking pots and well an Aladdin’s cave springs to mind. There’s a three stove gas cooker, although one doesn’t work, a wooden table by the Aladdin’s cave to chop on and shelving on the other wall. Although this has medicine, photos, general supplies on one half and the other half has draws and cupboards so has the plates, cups, cutlery etc stored in it. Four of us trying to manoeuvre in the tiny kitchen was quite a dance. Lindz bless her, was very worried we would cook food the wrong or a way they wouldn’t like it so kept checking with them, using the godsend that is google translate. I was less worried and just chopped and stirred. To be fair the mamita didn’t really have a break from cooking as she prepared some of the vegetables for us and one of the girls was like our sous chef and helped throughout as well. 


Michelle through her illness, we now think is sinusitis, played games with the girls whilst we cooked but was struggling feeling awful. Her contribution to the main course cooking was to add two big table spoons of the garlic and onion sauce they gave us. Their faces when she added that was priceless. As if to say oh my, do you actually know how to cook. It was potent to say the least! 

So Michelle battling through illness had to cope with what was a rather hectic spell. Little Zuwela constantly hugging me at every opportunity, her and Virginia running around like nutters. Maria and Roxana piercing their ears in the TV room with just an earring and an ice block to numb the ear? Ouch! Lots of blood!

Another volunteer came along whilst we were cooking, Karen, who now lives in Cusco as she has a boyfriend here, but is a Scottish primary teacher and volunteered five years ago so keeps the volunteer link by popping in for a few hours and teaching some maths to some of the younger ones. She’s fluent in Spanish so was very useful as our translator!


Well it all went down a treat, the garlic taste had been neutralised with other flavours and it did taste good, even if I do say so myself. We all sat together, Maria said grace and everyone tucked in. Some even had second helpings so really loved it! Although one girl, Virginia I think, spent a good hour and a half finishing hers. Not sure they are used to such a variety of vegetables. I think we had five. They have to clear their plate or they can not leave the table. A good old fashioned rule in my eyes,(I had to ask my dad to leave the table as a kid as well!) Her sister, Karen and some of the older girls all helped feed her, encourage her and she bloody finished it! So she was allowed a pancake. The girls wanted to help with making the pancake making (I mean who doesn’t like to try and toss a pancake) and Maria took charge after Michelle had mixed the batter up and we had found various utensils. The pan was most defiantly not non stick so the ‘tossing’ was rather hard. I think we managed it by about the 10th one. Again, all went down a treat. Girls even put the toppings on ours for us. Didn’t like to say I don’t like chocolate sauce so had to grin and bare it.

So time to say goodbye. Our translator let them know and they seemed quite sad, Gladys said ‘you as well’ to me, which made me feel a bit special and equally bad for leaving.

Maybe see them again in three years, who knows!

So up to get luggage, we have half an hour to spare so raced to the Artisan market, bought souvenirs and gifts and then headed to the airport. Now although we have ditched three suitcases full of donations, there were still three people, three large suitcases, two small suitcases and hand luggage. The taxis being the size of fiat 500’s were always going to be a squeeze! So I put the others in first then got myself a taxi after. We had 55 mins until flight takes off. Not sure Michelle was comfortable with it but we made it, the check in man wasn’t that impressed, the girl weren’t sitting together (I forget about things like that as I don’t care where I sit) but who wants to wait at an airport for hours?! Done enough of that this holiday so far.

First flight just 50 mins. Did we take off on time….of course not. It’s Avianca. I managed a brief sleep in my extra leg room seat just behind business class. As close as I’m going to get unless I marry someone rich next time! I have an American 7ft man sat next to me. He bloomin needs the extra leg room as his legs go on for ever. 

We have a three hour wait for the second flight. Michelle has decided she needs medication to help sinusitis so we head to a chemist. £25 later she had strong pills! 

Second flight the girls are seated together but I’m at the front of the cheap seats again although not quite the leg room seats.

Good journey, I sleep most of it although wake for the lovely ravioli dinner? And here we are, in Rio the land of the carnival and for three weeks the Olympics!

Off to baggage reclaim, and here our troubles start. We are called over and told the plane was too full so our cases are still in Cusco. Oh dear god. All of ours plus six others. Fuming.com.The plane wasn’t even bloody full! 

After about half an hour of detail swapping and complaining, we have to leave luggageless and see if our transfer to out accommodation is there. No surprise that it’s not. Michelle had found the accommodation, it was cheap, pictures looked good, three rooms and seemed OK. I had found a variety of places but she wasn’t keen, I forgot her OCD tendencies when looking for accommodation and that my suggestions were not likely to hit the radar, ha ha. Anyhow we had all agreed, paid upfront via booking.com. However it has seemed dodgy and unlikely to exist since booking.com cancelled the booking, then reinstated it back in October 2015. Booking.com had continued to reply to message saying all was ok alright the hostel stopped answering their phones! The only bit of luck regarding this was that Michelle and Lindz had starting chatting to a random completely nutty lady at Cusco airport when waiting for me. She has accommodation in Rio which we can stay at. She had also gone and checked where the ‘apartment’ should be and it’s all closed down. So for rather more money than I wanted to pay, we at least have accommodation and will be safe at 5am in the morning. We get an official cab, after some ‘wide boys’ tried to get us in their cab first without ID. £30 later and we are at this apartment of Anamaria. Doorman on guard 24 hours but she doesn’t answer the door (it is now 6am). I’m starting to think it was another scam? After about 10 mins of knocking and calling she answers the door. Phew!

So in we go. All in one room with no luggage but so tired we just want to sleep. The room is two bunk beds, the window is wide open and the noise from traffic is awful. We try and shut one window but the noise still filters through. Going to be a long week of trying to sleep!

We awake at about 11, me and Lindz do anyway after a good long sleep, Michelle was awake early as usual and pottering about.

I have tennis tickets for the evening session but we need to get orientated around town and buy some essentials. Anamaria guides us around town. Now let me explain her to you. She’s Portuguese but lived in New York for 30 years or something, has a New York twang. Lived in London as well and seems to have four passports. She has apartments all over the place that she says are rented out, and I’m pretty sure she hasn’t worked a day in a long long time. About 5ft 5, slightly over average build, bleach blonde hair. Wears sunglasses all the time (I think they are prescription) and wears flowery, colourful floaty dresses. I’m pretty sure she talks to anyone and everyone in the street, and seems to have a story for every conversation you start. She’s even been in jail for 90 days for some kind of money laundering? 


Anyway, on our familiarisation tour, we see outdoor gyms of a different sort, men doing pull ups etc on the beach front. It’s bloody 40 degrees and I’m in my jeans! I buy a whole new outfit, shorts, vest top, Havana flip flops and knickers. We grab some fruit and drink, get cash out and head back. Only about 10 mins walk from the beach. Interestingly Anamaria had said her over apartment was a beach view. She shows us where it is and if you can see the beach from their, I’m a supermodel! Anamaria encourages us to try a local street traders coconut juice. Straight from the coconuts into a bottle and very nice it was too! 

On every street corner there’s a tourist trap. Fake Olympics t shirts, bracelets, scarves, bandanas, flags, selfie sticks, purses. You name it, it’s here and usually in Brazilian colours so very colourful indeed.

I put my clean clothes on only to realise the knickers were kids sizes! I persevere for about 15 mins but they are digging in, commando it is!

So now to get to the Olympic venue. You need a travel card you buy at the station. The girls very kindly walk with me to the station and we head off thinking we know where the station is but end up walking about 20 mins and have to ask volunteers (they are everywhere just like London 2012) where it is. Eventually we find it but can’t get a travel card. You need to be at a different station. As I nearly burst into tears when no one can help me a local man and his wife come to my rescue and tap their travel card in for me to get to the station I can buy the travel card from. It’s about £6 travel a day, and these venues the not close at all. The tennis takes me a good two hours with this slow start, I am convinced I’m going to miss the whole Venus Williams match? The Olympic park is certainly no London. No selfie sticks allowed in, I mean what on earth am I going to do with a selfie stick? Poke you in the eye. I understand not using them in the events themselves as they are annoying, but why can’t people take them in? No iconic Olympic sights about like the birds nest or Beijing or Olympic Stadium and Aquatics (Pringles) centre of London, although as you arrive at the all pic Park what looks like the athletics stadium is in fact centre court. Also at the Park is swimming, synchronised swimming and diving in an outdoor pool, cycling, judo and some basketball. I pass Clare Balding and Mark Chapman getting ready for a BBC broadcast. If only I had my GB clothes on I’d of danced in the background. But I take a selfie instead and behave very British. 

Into centre court and a great match it was. The ball boys and girls aren’t boys and girls more men and women. And they are certainly no match for the awesomeness of the skills shown at Wimbledon. The volunteer on door duty by my seat is pretty damn useless. He just lets them come and go as they please, mid game, mid point. If you saw the Venus match at all, and her moaning and looking into the stands, well that was where I was sat and in the directions of these wandering spectators. It’s no Wimbledon!!

The crowd were all behind the underdog, Flipkens. And what a good match for the neutral, tight points, games and match in the end. Venus should and could of won but serving for the match lost her composure and Flipkens took her chances. 


The atmosphere is pretty good, it’s not full at all but the crowd are chanting and cheering. All good fun. I’m sat beside some Americans who have an even more detailed itinerary than Michelle, which is hard to believe. A few British in front of me, one with a flag as a shawl and a GB hat. Not lots of Brits as yet but then I’m not at a GB event.


I’ve noticed people carrying around collections of pint cups. No idea why, wonder if they get money bag of hey return them like in T20 cricket in the UK.

So day one complete. I’m here in Rio, one set of clean clothes, no toiletries, no GB fan gimmicks, and staying in the nuttiest woman’s apartment that is being decorated as we speak, has two random friends of her staying and is not quite what the pictures she sent portrayed. But I love it already.

I meet some ex Pom, then Aussie now living in Rio people (did you manage I follow that?) who took me under their wing and travelled back with me. We found all the tourist guides for Olympics and maps so I am armed for the week and I bought a travel card for tomorrow so I have non of the dramas of today. Lots of useful advice from the ex Pom. Zika is not about at the moment as its winter. There will be mosquitos in the morning but different types. So many free tickets about so not likely to sell my spare, even though Anamaria thinks she can. The metro, which is brand new, is so new it was finished two days ago, but will be one of the best things to come out of the Olympics here. Do Christ the Redeemer in the morning as you get the best blue skies then, I’m paying above the odds for the apartment (kind of thought that) but at least I’m safe, and just enjoy being here.

Day 2- well no time to sleep in, off to hockey which starts at 9am at a different venue to yesterday. The sun is shining, is a beautiful day and I am looking forward to some hockey. The others had got up early, well Michelle who never sleeps got up early and woke us all up. They have decided to head to the airport and find out about the suitcases. They are hoping that they will be on the flight that arrives this morning the duplicate of our flight just a day later. As I have my tickets I’m off and leave them to it. I’m armed with the map, train/metro tickets and sun cream and off I head. It’s the longest journey ever. I thought yesterday was bad. Three trains and a half hour walk, then there’s a bloody queue of 2.5km to wait in to get in. It has taken me three hours to get here. It’s no London 2012. The bonus, if you are hungry or thirsty though, is that you get street sellers on your train selling everything from hair ties, mobile chargers to chocolate to local snacks that look like frazzles! As I’m one for trying the local food out I but a couple of bags to keep me fed for the day. 

You can’t not feel safe though. Armed guards everywhere, the army in force, volunteers much the same as London 2012 all around although there seem to be about five different coloured outfits, and street sellers at the stations and entrance to walkways. Busy, busy, busy. Anyhow I’m here, missed match one but this looks a better match. I have worked out why the cups have been collected. They all have a different sports printed on so its a collection challenge! I don’t even drink beer but I feel I need them in my life! Maybe later. I make my way to my seats, well they aren’t allocated so I go wherever I want and get front row. The opposite side (by the dug outs) is a sea of orange as its Holland playing against Spain. A few Spanish flags dotted around, but that is immense. 


Yesterday there was wifi at the park available, I was going to buy a weeks worth but my card didn’t go through online, so instead got a whole 30 mins free. Today no phone signal and no wifi. Supposed to be meeting the girls later to maybe do sugar loaf but it’s now 11.30 and I’m staying for this match so won’t be back until maybe 4. A lovely volunteer offers me her phone just so I can check in! The others are off to sugar loaf themselves. A tad sad I’ve missed going together but probably a sign of things to come. Threes a difficult number to travel in, one usually gets left out.

The Dutch are a master class in women’s hockey at the moment. Some of the best players in the world, and since meeting some of them as a volunteer at Lee Valley I know more about them. Thy win easily, 5-0. Lovely atmosphere, the British Lee Valley commentator is out here commentating which is very homely, not sure the Brazilians know the rules that well so need an expert to lead the way! I ask one of the volunteers about the different coloured tops. Yellow and green are generic general all round volunteers. Green are specific events, blue are technical and red she wasn’t sure of. Nice to know. I start my Olympic pint cup collection with a shandy (have to buy a Sprite and a beer but that’s going to prove expensive) and manage to find one on the floor as well, so the proud owner of a horse riding and basketball cup so far. 

The journey back was far less stressful. Maybe because I knew it. Bonus news, our suitcases have been returned. The girls early morning trip to the airport was fruitful, if not a huge hassle for them but I’m very grateful. We have clothes! Hooray. Off to meet the others for dinner via the flat for a shower. Now having had luke warm showers at best for the past week this shower was heaven. Hot, powerful and in a clean (ish) bathroom. Oh to be clean and have clean clothes to put on, it is quite a treat. 

We eat at what is quite frankly a bloody expensive restaurant for what it is, but the girls found it and have already eaten so I just join, order a snack and a drink and they wait for me. We finish the evening with a walk along the beach, a final cocktail in a beach restaurant with a local playing on his guitar. Quite relaxing, well apart from the constant street traders wandering through, particularly peanut sellers bizarrely, and the ridiculous strength of the cocktail we ordered. No idea what is was but sounded quite exotic with kiwi in it, Erm, not so much! The peanut men out a handful of nuts on your table, leave them and then come back to sell a paper cones worth to you. We had a man selling necklaces as well who started to tell us his life hardship. Not going to work mate, if we like them we’d buy them but we don’t! 

Day 2 completed!!! 

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