Itaipu Dam

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The Itaipu Dam situated on the border of Brazil and Paraguay is the world’s second largest dam. It is also one of the most expensive objects ever built.

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Itaipu Dam is located very near Iguazu Falls, north of the Brazilian town Foz do Iguaçu. You can get there easily by taking a local bus.

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Surprisingly, the combo tickets are cheaper if bought at visitors’ centre rather than online. Luckily, refunds are offered for the angry tourists like us who decide to complain about the online rip-off :-)

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We would suggest buying the panoramic tour during which you’ll be taken to both sides of the border. The tour is preceded by 30 minutes documentary about the history, facts and construction of Itaipu Dam.

We also recommend the night tour which ends with a spectacular illumination of the dam.

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Iguazu Falls

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This is the sight that welcomes you as you enter the park from the Brazilian side.

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SAM_0140Our little furry friend is called coati (they belong to raccoon family). There are hundreds of them here, they have no fear of humans almost bullying tourists for something to eat and they will snatch your bag in a split second if you don’t look after it. They may look sweet but they also have disgusting food habits, going through the bins in search of the leftovers.

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If you’re adventurous you can explore the falls from the speed boat. No doubt, you’ll get wet!

SAM_0138 With over 80 metres high, mighty Garganta del Diablo in the background.

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SAM_0146At the closest point of the lower part of the Devil’s Throat. Due to the sun movement and photo wise it’s better to visit Brazilian side of the falls in the morning and the Argentinian side in the afternoon. This way you’ll always have the sun behind you. You can also climb the viewing platform for the bird’s eye view.

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That is sooo high! But unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind to us the following day when we visited the Argentinian side of the falls.

It was raining all day long and it really didn’t matter where the sun was :-)

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Hungry croc waiting patiently for the meal, read: the tourist, to fall into the water. SAM_0493

On the Argentinian side you can get really close to the Devil’s Throat. It takes a long walk on the decking platforms but for sure it is worth it. When we finally got there, the rain, the water spray and the mist made taking the photos impossible so the above is the last shot we took.

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SAM_0576We were not brave enough to walk to the end of this decking. Even from the distance we could feel the water spray wetting our faces. Little monkeys were walking freely around this side of the park. Soaking wet they looked so poorly. They were more timid than raccoons and you couldn’t get close to them.

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Almost movie like settings! And who said we’re not romantic :-)

Carnaval in Rio

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SAM_4384We were rather disappointed when we got to the Sambodromo. Virtually empty concrete sectors, a handful of staff, something was missing… Maybe we should have bought those more expensive tickets for the Special Group parading the following day? Or maybe we just arrived a bit too early? The bleachers slowly filled with spectators and when the samba runway eventually came to life we were glad we were first to come as we were able to choose the best seats in our grandstand. And then the party begun!

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Each samba school presents a number of beautifully decorated floats which come in all shapes and sizes.

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Some of the dancers are only covered with a strip of body paint.

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SAM_4431The official website advertises the event as an experience of a life-time and it’s hard not to agree with them. We’ve had a fantastic night! Even if you are on the budget like us and cannot afford to see the Special Group, buy the tickets for Access Group. Finally, important advice about accommodation: the prices really do triple or quadruple during that period! We didn’t take it seriously and ended up sleeping across the bay, in Niteroi, during the Carnaval. So better book it ahead! Months ahead!

Rio de Janeiro

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SAM_4293We waited a long time for a clear sky in Rio. For many days Corcovado peak, where 30 metres high statue of Cristo Redentor has reigned over the city for over 80 years, was covered in clouds which did not guarantee the best views of the cidade maravilhosa. Even when we got there the view was not the clearest one.

SAM_4297Getting to the top is an adventure itself and requires a lot of patience as people flock in numbers to see one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. You’re guaranteed to spend many hours queuing to buy the train ticket to the statue. Not to mention that it is not the cheapest option so if you want to save money and time we recommend taking one of the minibuses parked near the entrance to the cog train.

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Believe it or not but this is the famous Copacabana. Only three days before the Carnaval, it seems deserted and abandoned.

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The following day we couldn’t complain about the weather but in terms of the crowds it wasn’t getting any better at the sister beach Ipanema.

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Rio as you know it! Postcard perfect picture of Ipanema full of sun worshipers.

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So in the end maybe it was better to have the beach only to yourself…

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SAM_4207And that’s where the children end when they play with knives. Mateusz could not resist picking up this durian fruit. He has never seen it before and here he was being able pluck it from the tree himself. He also wanted to cut it, peel it and slice it for the family to enjoy. Having read that the flesh of the fruit has a rather strong and unique odour he decided to prepare it on the balcony. Unfortunately, the husk of durian fruit was very hard, the knife slipped on the thorns and Mateusz badly cut himself. The wound did not heal for many days and we ended up in the hospital where Mateusz received a course of antibiotics.

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Rio’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain seen from a different angle: Parque da Cidade, Niterói. Although unknown to many tourists, it offers tremendous views of Niterói and Rio on the other side of the bay.

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Mateusz at the upper part of Escadaria Selarón, the famous staircase covered with tiles from over 100 countries. It’s really fun to look for the one from your country.