All posts by The AMK Team

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Rio: Hectic, Gritty and Fast-Paced! World Cup Insanity!

Rio was a fun, exciting place to visit that was absolutely nothing like we had expected. It was one of those scenarios where travel marketing captures and sells very precise locations of a place (kind of like what Tourism Australia does), and when you arrive, you find that things are different.

We stayed in Copacabana Beach, only a few blocks from Fan Fest – the outdoor mosh pit created by FIFA for football fans, complete with massive outdoor screens, live concerts, DJs, and makeshift stalls selling cocktails. It wasn’t a good idea to have drinks from these places, let’s just leave it at that. Brazil can certainly be dangerous, and from our experience was far more shady than Bolivia (which we heard was bad). I think Brazil’s tourism does a great job of highlighting the amazingness of Rio – visiting Christ The Redeemer was breathtaking – but you seriously have to be on high alert in some areas. If you are, then you’ll enjoy the city!

Copacabana Beach has been our favourite beach so far. The waves are massive and smash you hard into the sand if you don’t time your dive right, but they are so much fun! The waves must’ve been around 2 metres, maybe close to 3, but they’re so close to shore that you cannot avoid them. The only concern is when a wave picks up a sea of bodies in front of you, as it tunnels towards you and you have nowhere to go. I had to dive beneath the waves and cover my head a few times, as I was expecting to get pummelled by bodies. The looks on everybody’s faces read the same: “This is gonna hurt!”

Rio has great Brazilian BBQ grills that serve up chicken, beef, and farofa – a manioc flour with eggs and banana. It’s a cool city that can be enjoyed by everybody, but ironically given its wealth, it doesn’t deliver the confidence nor freedom of exploration that far poorer countries can. For example, even though Bolivia is touted as a cocaine enterprise, unless you were looking for it you wouldn’t notice. The attitude to drugs there is like Greece: Amongst the youth, it’s unacceptable. In other countries, it isn’t as much of a shock.

Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control in Rio, we have no photos to show, so we’ll have to show you some that other travellers have taken which we believe does justice to this wild city!20140719-143936-52776917.jpg

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World Cup In Curitiba: A Special Gift From FIFA & Visa!

Our Latin America adventure revolved around realising one incredible dream: To go to a World Cup match!

We booked our (very) expensive tickets about six months ago, and in order to guarantee seats we had to purchase a MATCH Hospitality Package. This included prime seats with fantastic views, unlimited alcohol, and a selection of snacks. We must have eaten close to twenty sandwiches that day.

After much stressing with MATCH Hospitality’s shoddy attempt at organising, you know, only the biggest sporting event in the world (it eclipses the Olympic Games by an average of four times their viewership ratings), we got our hands on our prized tickets! After our friend had to cruise all around São Paulo solo, being told at each destination that the tickets aren’t there (even though MATCH stated in an email they were), and being told to visit a random hotel where they were apparently waiting (they weren’t), our hearts managed to avoid minor heart attacks once we finally got them. Other people had this problem too: surely MATCH won’t be organising Russia 2018. It was actually a horrendous experience to get our tickets. Nonetheless, when the big day came in Brazil’s most forward-thinking city, we were ready to cheer on Australia as they took on Spain.

Prior to the match, FIFA representatives came up to us and offered a free, behind the scenes stadium tour. It was only us three and two other Brazilians who went out of the entire crowd! We were taken into the press conference room, the media centre (where all the journalists from around the world come to write about the games), the Socceroos’s locker room, out onto the pitch (where we sat in both Australia’s and Spain’s dugout), and to cap it all off, Sam was given the official match ball to place on the podium for kickoff. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and one that we will never forget!

To celebrate going to the game, which Blair and I had promised we would since October 2007, we all bought several boxes of fireworks (not firecrackers) and set them off in the streets. Because a full day of Budweiser’s is best capped off with explosives!
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Iguazu Falls and Parque Das Aves: Natural Wonders Of Brazil!

Our first experience in Brazil was… interesting. Foz Do Iguacu is the city from where backpackers/tourists/outdoor lovers venture to the incredible Iguazu Falls. The city itself isn’t the most specactular… but to give you an accurate description of it, I’d have to ask you to imagine an ordinary city whose main meal options include a piece of chicken or beef, rice and beans. The beans? We loved, but eventually you start craving vegetables. Now that we are in Ecuador, I’ve been ravaging salads like there’s no tomorrow!

Anyway, the reason for coming here is to stand – drenched – as a witness to thundering waterfalls and epic panoramas. Epic is an overused word, but epic justifies Iguazu Falls. For some reason when we travel, we aren’t overly taken by tourist sites nor find ourselves wanting to visit many, so going into the falls on the local bus, my expectations were mediocre. That sounds crazy looking back on it, but it certainly set me up for the knock-out punch that these mighty, cascading falls delivered.

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The day after the falls, when we tired of snacking on chips and chocolate for the lack of food options, we decided to go to another place which is far less talked about. Indeed, we only heard about it because we saw a small sign outside as we passed it by on the bus. Nobody seems to talk about it. For us though, Parque Das Aves was the best zoo experience we have ever had. Anacondas, colourful macaws, toucans and other crazy-looking birds whose names we will never remember, filled what is technically a zoo, but more a loosely contained wildlife park. The zoo has literally been built in between a rainforest, which makes you feel as though you aren’t in a zoo at all!

Check out our photos below. If you visit the falls, you absolutely must put aside a few hours for Parque Das Aves – you will not regret it!

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