Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympics

When I retired from competitive synchronized swimming a few years ago the last place I expected to be in 2016 was in Rio de Janeiro. So when I got an email asking if I would be available and interested in working at the Olympics I jumped at the chance. What an incredible opportunity and it meant I was going to attend my 3rd Olympics in a row but this time I wouldn’t be competing, I was working with the broadcast team on the Synchro and I couldnt be more excited!!

I flew Emirates from Brisbane to Rio via Dubai… thats two 14 hour flights! Now let me just saying flying economy on Emirates feels like first class when you’ve spent the better part of your year flying budget airlines like Air Asia AND they’ve got wifi on the plane! I didn’t get a whole lot of use out of this though because as usual I spent most of the flight fast asleep! I spent my time in Dubai speed walking laps of the airport in an attempt to get the blood circulating in my legs again and then I boarded my second 14 hour flight bound for Rio!!!

Flying into RIO DE JANEIRO
Flying into RIO DE JANEIRO!!!! I was excited!

I arrived at the hotel in the early evening dissorientated and completely confused at what time zone I was in, a solid 30 hours travel will have this effect! Luckily I didn’t start work until the next day so I was able to try and sleep off the jet lag.

I was up bright and early for an action packed day, the next 10 days of my life were probably some of the hardest I’ve ever worked, they were pretty stressful on some occasions too! I’m not going to bore you with all the details but let me just say working at the Olympics is almost as tough as competing at the Olympics!

We managed to squeeze in a day off of sightseeing amongst all of the chaos and I headed out with Trace and Kat to get a taste of what Rio had to offer. We hit up Copacabana Beach with Caipirinhas in hand, took a trip up to see the big man himself and took in some incredible city views from Sugarloaf mountain. Rio is one of those cities that’d hard not to love and I’d find it difficult to believe that anyone could visit and not be impressed.

Beach Shacks on Copacabana
Beach shacks on Copacabana… If you can dream it up theres a pretty good chance one of these shacks will be just waiting to sell it to you
Caipirinha – according to recipes the incredients are half a lime cut into 4 wedges, 2 Teaspoons brown sugar, 1 2/3 oz Cachaça but in reality it was usually about 4 tablespoons of sugar and way too much Cachaça! They were so strong I only needed 2 and I was done!
Chist Redeemer
We definitely weren’t the only one who thought a visit to the Christ Redeemer was a good idea… it was a mosh pit up there! But I was so excited to visit my 5th wonder of the world and tick this guy off my bucketlist!
Sugarloaf Mountain
That moment of pure magic just before the sun goes down on Sugarloaf mountain. The Christ Redeemer is Rio’s most visited attraction but for me Sugarloaf Mountain and its incredible views was by far my favourite part of the day!
Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
Ticking off one of the Natural Wonders of the World in the form of Rio’s magnificent Harbor, created by erosion from the Atlantic Ocean, she sure is a beaut!

When I finished up my time working at the Olympics/ the best job ever, I had 3 extra days to do some more exploring in Rio. As fate would have it I had a friend who had been living in Rio for the last couple of months and he agreed to put up with me for three days and show me more of how awesome Rio is! I met Jamie when I was on a tour in Peru a few years ago, he’s a UK native with a love for all things South American and this was his second time living in Brazil. He was living in a share style house and there was a spare bed for the 3 days I needed so it was perfect! The best thing about this place was that it was at the top of Escadaria Selarón, a famous set of steps located in Lapa. I love steps and these were pretty much the best looking steps I’ve ever gotten to walk on and I got to do it every day!

Escadaria Selaron
These photos took commitment, I got up at the crack of dawn in the hopes to avoid the usual masses of tourists that were all over the steps during the day. And to my delight the steps were empty apart from myself and a street sweeper. Totally worth it!
The steps were created by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron, it was his tribute to the Brazilian people. He was constantly adding to his work for 23 years until he was sadly found dead on the steps in 2013.

My final days in Rio flew by, the weather could have been a little more accomodating but Jamie and I still made the most of my time. We visited the Botanical Gardens, explored a local market, took in some Brazillian night life (and a few more Caipirinha’s) and attempted to climb to the top of Pedra de Gavea.

Botanical Gardens
Cute Cacti in the Botanical Gardens
street art
Some of the colourful Brazillian street art… these guys are good!
Produce at the local markets
Produce at the local markets
Watching a storm roll in on Ipanema Beach
Watching a storm roll in on Ipanema Beach
Pedra de Gavea attempt
I mentioned that we attempted to climb Pedra de Gavea and I said attempted because this is as far as we made it… The wet weather meant it was too slippery to make it all the way to the top/ there’s no way in hell I was going to free climb to the top of that giant rock behind me!

And just like that my time in Brazil came to an end. Next stop Canada!






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