This weirdly feels like a long time ago now - maybe because we're back on a different continent - so apologies if it's lacking in some details, it's just my memory failing me.
We flew into Rio and then got a bus from the airport to Ipenema, where we were staying. We stayed at Hostel Harmonia, which was a nice little place. The staff were really friendly and it had a good vibe. As Brazil's a bit expensive compared to other places we stayed in South America, we'd booked into a dorm room rather than a private room, but that was all good - not too cramped and everyone was friendly. Breakfast was some fruit, bread, cheese, ham etc. and juice, tea and coffee. Pretty good. Plus there were eggs you could cook for yourself if you wanted to.
As our flight from Santiago was pretty early, we were able to check in to the hostel and still have a bit of time for doing stuff that afternoon/evening. We therefore decided to go up Sugarloaf Mountain. You take a cable car up and get great views over Rio. We went up just before sunset, so got to see that and then Rio in the dark.
If you're thinking of travelling to Rio, you're likely to see/hear that it's quite a dangerous city, with muggings and such like being especially rife. I'd read the Wikitravel entry and it had made me particularly wary. I didn't wear my watch while I was there and on that first night I didn't take my camera out with me either. I did then regret that though as all the other tourists were quite happily carrying cameras around. I carried mine around on the other 2 days, but it's a shame I didn't get to take any photos from Sugarloaf. Jamie got some though, so I'll just steal his at some point!
On our first full day we went up to the Christ the Redeemer statue. This took quite a long time in total as we first needed to take a bus, then there's the train that takes you up to the statue, then we looked around for a while, then we had the same in reverse. Worth it though to see something so iconic. It's always weird seeing things like that in real life when you're so used to seeing them on TV.
Christ the Redeemer:
We only had the 2 full days in Rio so there's a lot we didn't get to see. However, we wanted our last day to be quite chilled out, so we walked over to Copacabana beach and spent a while there before returning to Ipanema and spending a while at the beach there.
The following day was then spent on planes. We got one plane from Rio to Panama and then another from Panama to Toronto. People on aeroplanes can be quite annoying in general, but these flights seemed to have a higher percentage of annoying people than usual. Here's the Chantal guide to aeroplane etiquette:
1. Try to avoid tilting your seat back, unless you really need to. This doesn't just go for aeroplanes - this rule should be obeyed on all forms of transport. Just because your chair can be tilted back, doesn't mean you have to do it. Consider that there's a person sitting behind you and they're unlikely to want your chair in their face. Why do you think that you deserve an extra inch of space and they deserve an inch less? Yes they could also tilt their chair back, as could the person behind them, then the person behind them, and so on and so on, right down the entire plane, just to redress the imbalance in personal space caused by your unnecessarily selfish action. Or you could just not do it. If it's an overnight flight and you're trying to sleep, that's fair enough, but otherwise no.
2. Obey the seat belt sign. Don't decide for yourself that it's fine to just get up and walk around. Granted, on these particular 2 flights, the seatbelt sign was on for almost the entire duration, so you have to do a bit of ignoring it then, just for your bladder's sake. However, when the plane's still clearly ascending, don't start getting your bag out of the overhead compartment. I'm sure you can do without it for a few more minutes.
3. When you're told to turn off your phone, TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Is an extra minute of phone time really that important? Do you really really need to be using it up until the last possible second? Also, do you really need to turn it back on as soon as the wheels have touched down? You're really that obsessed with your phone? Your life makes me sad.
I'm sure there are other things that I'm forgetting, but those are the major flight crimes. However, the most ridiculous incident of flight selfishness I've ever encountered, occurred on the flight from Rio. On the row of seats in front of us there was a couple and a spare seat. The spare seat was in front of me (they were sitting either side of it). "Great," I thought, "I'll avoid having a seat back in my face." But no - after pushing their own seats back, they also pushed back the spare seat! I found myself sitting behind no-one and still having a chair right in my face!! Madness.