Thursday, 30 January 2014

It's A380 time!

I'm glad to announce I've just finished training and am now licensed to fly on the double-decker that is the A380. I have forfeited my Boeing 777 license and some of my favourite trips but as this new aircraft is our new company flagship I'm excited to be part of this exciting new step. Luckily enough I had a few friends on the same course so we managed to have tonnes of fun along the way.

The A380 from the bus. WOW.
Up we go!

Half of my lovely training group on one of two staircases. Fancy, huh?
Channelling my inner engineer in my airside outfit.
My group at the end of our training. Such a lovely bunch. I can't wait to see you all onboard!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Campbell Traditions

My Brother enjoying a glass of wine. We love our wine, us Campbells.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Wednesday Earcandle Antics

Although guidelines from the Canadian government deterred the use of ear candles; 
"The practice of ear candling has recently become popular as an alternative therapy. Some promoters say it is an ancient treatment that can cure a number of medical problems. Don't listen: ear candling is dangerous, and has no proven medical benefit"
it didn't stop us from setting our ear (candles) alight.
Holland and Barrett's finest
C'mon baby light my fire.
You fo' real?
Bitch, this came out your ear. 
"Has it worked yet or am I on fire? Samantha, ANSWER ME!"

I can confirm that although we didn't believe that our candle endeavour would actually clear our ears out, it was a lovely waste of an evening and detracted from the sibling hangover and subsequent Dominoes that we indulged in. Overall success? 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Hang Gliding in Rio

The only way to watch the video is in HD, full screen :)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Rocinha: Rio de Janeiro's largest Favela

Have you seen 'The City of God'? Until visiting Rocinha my expectations of life in a Brazilian favela were pretty much played out in that film: Drugs, gangs, chaos and no mercy as life is cheap. The film gives you appropriate expectations of Rio's beaches - being perfect - but I couldn't have been more wrong about life in the Favela.

Tourists are discouraged from visiting a favela without a guide. This is commonly thought to be because of the high probability of being robbed but more likely due to the labyrinth factor. Rocinha, in particular, is so difficult to map that it makes delivering mail an impossible task for the postman. Main streets are understood between locals and named numbers in relation to hillside position. Luckily, we bagged ourselves a tour guide who lived in Rocinha to show us around and once feeling more comfortable about my chances of being robbed (after realising that people here have iPhones), I took some pictures. 

The facade of Rocinha makes its appearance slum-like but people choose to live here to escape paying taxes, a huge incentive. The neighbourhood takes the full hill expanse. 
The bottom tiers have the cheapest houses so the poverty is concentrated here. This street is called Canal Street because the canal full of sewage flows down here from the top. When the canal becomes flooded the area is rife with rats.
The wires hanging from building to building supply electricity to residents' homes. Residents often cut a deal with the local who works for the electricity company and get hooked up for a fraction of the price. The electricity boxes to the left allow occupants to enjoy the advantages of receiving an electricity bill as proof of address. They are likely inactivated and the occupant consistently receives a bill of R$0. Thrifty. 
The walk from the bottom is steep and the houses are always growing. Residents sell the plot on top of their property for development and as a result the whole favela grows taller. It's not surprising Brazilians have nicely shaped bottoms. 
Between houses there is very little space and at night the region comes alive with "Battle of the music from next door" kicking off every couple of doors down. At this point in the tour a couple of teenagers with an actual rifle (complete with hash leaf motif) passed us. I thought my colleague was going to have a heart attack at this point but our guide assured us that it wasn't a genuine rifle.
Making our way up and around the hill, Rocinha caught the sun and its true colours shone.

Did you know that the name Favela comes from the plant 'Favela' among which the neighbourhood was built? Due to the lack of address residents would explain they lived among the favela. 

Beautiful organised graffiti beamed from every building. The sense of community within Rocinha was strong. 
The community is apparently so strong that neighbours help struggling families feed their children and individuals volunteer teach some to read and write. The public schools in the area are terribly staffed and many young people don't learn these basic skills. Others volunteer to teach dance, english, arts & crafts or run sports clubs for free. Our tour guide learned english at a free club teaching skills for tourism within Rocinha. 
Colour floods the streets. 
These houses are likely owned by people who own businesses within the favela. Apparently rent for a house like this would be around R$500-600 a month. This equates to less than £200 a month, tax free. A typical monthly wage in the region would be around R$600. 

Would you believe me if I told you that the yellow building is a three storey family home with a pool on top?

Now take a deep breath and enjoy the view from the top... (scroll right)

Please note: All information about life in Rocinha was obtained from the tour guide and doesn't reflect my own opinion or research.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Búzios is Paradise

I once read an article about Búzios in a luxury travel magazine. Brigette Bardot put the resort on the map in the 60s when she vacationed at the tropical haven. Búzios is paradise. With breathtaking beaches, idyllic surrounding islands and lots of shops, restaurants & bars it's the perfect kind of village to visit for strictly relaxation. 
I opted to take a day tour (which was definitely more of a boat party) from my hotel in Barra beach. The bus took forever picking up other tourists and stopped far too many times for my liking, however, luckily enough the service stations we stopped at happened to be among rural hillside which was pretty attractive. 
On da bus.
When we eventually arrived in Búzios I was delighted! We were carted to meet another few groups and embarked on a journey to circle the resort on a party boat. As everyone whipped their clothes off and jumped into the sea I realised that I had no pals. Shit. As if by sent from the universe, at that very moment, I was approached by an Irish man who had been on my tour bus and he introduced me to a swiss guy he had just bonded with over speaking english. It turned out they were pretty good chat so I had friends for the day! Wahoooo!

Seaside village appeal.
Island in view.
Our Vessel.
Oh, this is an actual boat party.
SHWIMMIN'. (Spot the fisherman)
No, I said diet coke!
Pals for the day! 
One of my new pals offered to take some pictures of me so I was all over that posing. SNAP GIRL.

All aboard!
The boat pulled into the shore and we shuffled to the restaurant on the beach for the meal (included with the tour... SCORE.) 
I mulled over the idea of moving here and spoke about it with my new friends for the duration of the meal then once we digested our food and the breathtaking scenery it was time for a wander.
The view as we ate on the restaurant balcony.
The Promenade.
Fancy a quick fish?
A restaurant in ode to Brigette Bardot.

If I were here with my mum, she'd make us go to mass... more for the novelty than the praise I'm sure.

I thought these two were picturesque. So easy to imagine them as best friends.
Some lucky person has this beaut of an abode on the beach. So not jealous.
Boat maintenance.
I love the colour in this photo.

The Square.

The Coconut Lady.

Home Time.
As 7pm creeped on us, it was time to return to the city. I had been awake from 5am that day and slept most of the way back dreaming about living as a surfer and general beach bum at Búzios. 

Taking this tour taught me a few valuable lessons:
1. Enquire about the number of pickups between yours and arrival at destination when booking a tour. If this number is obese for your standards rent a car and go yourself.
2. It is totally OK to do these things yourself. Making new friends is fun and encourages you to do things a bit differently than you usually would.
3. Always be prepared for the possible boat party that might sneak up on you. I WILL NOT be cheated from a cannonball in the sea by mascara again.