While our team mates were working their butts off at Pan Ams, Lach and I decided to go to Rio for a mini break and some training.
The prices, especially for accommodation literally sky rocketed from 3 years ago. I am not sure how people won’t go bankrupt at the World Cup. The cheapest apartment (without a washing machine) we could find was R$1000 per week. Mind you – it was in the perfect location near Aproador (between Copacabana and Ipanema), just a 5 min walk to the gym and super close to the beach and bars.
I wish we had more than a week to train, as I really wanted to checkout Alliance in RIo, but we ended up running out of time. However, Checkmat Rio will always be special to me, as it is pretty much where I started jiu jitsu. 4 years ago, I was travelling through South America with my little sister and I got really sick of partying and drinking every night. So I decided to start BJJ, as you do…
I have previously done about 5 classes in Australia and have never owned a gi. Looking back on it, my idea was just nuts.
But, as nerve wrecking and confusing as BJJ felt at the time, Rico Vieira made sure I was well looked after. Each training he designated a black belt to give me a private class for 1 hour and teach me as much as I could learn. Poor guys had to do 100 arm bars with a newby white belt, and as a result missed their own training.
Rico’s kindness must have made a massive impression on me though, because when I got back home I decided to have a go at competing and training seriously. So, it is pretty special for me to return to Rio and to catch up with Rico at major competitions each year.
Lachie and I trained 2 x a day, every day. The first training was 10.30am-12.30 and second not until 8pm, which gave us plenty of time to go to the beach or sightseeing in between.
I really liked the structure of classes – we started with a generic warm up, then drilled 2-3 variations of a technique, then applied resistance. Finally it was time for specific training and rolling. It was nice to have some lower belts to roll with to try some new things I have been working on. I also got to train with ‘Kaka’ a light weight purple belt – always great to have girls to roll with.
THINGS TO DO:
You obviously can’t miss Ipanema beach while in Rio. I have been there many times, but I don’t think I will ever get sick of the view. Sunsets at Aproador are also one of the most beautiful in the world in my opinion.
We timed our trip so that we could catch up with my long time friend Lais. My mum housed Lais as a school exchange student about 7 years ago. Since then, I have visited Lais twice in Brazil and met her family and we see each other once every 3 years or so. We got to meet her German husband Daniel and the 4 of us did a few touristy things like going to the Botanical Gardens and the Chinese View. We also got to go to the Maracana stadium to watch a soccer game between Flemengo and Boliviar. So much fun!
My favourite time of the week was spent with Priscila, another friend who stayed in our house a couple years ago.
Priscila took us to places that were ‘off the beaten track’ and it gave me a completely new outlook on Rio.
First day we went to a Bar do David, which is a small bar in a favela near Leme. It’s a bit of a hike up a hill and through the favela to get there, but it’s well worth it. The atmosphere was ambient, the seafood was super fresh and the seafood feijoada was my favourite.
The next day we got to explore Santa Teresa. There were so many quirky shops, cool bars and delicious hidden restaurants. It felt great to be surrounded by peace and art, as opposed to the imposing ‘fakeness’ and materialism of Ipanema. The best 360 degree view of Rio is from Parque das Ruinas – it’s quiet, breezy and beautiful. On the weekends there are often up and coming artists playing some samba.
Since we missed carnival because we were too busy training, Priscila organised for us to go to a bloco – a street party for those who refused to believe carnival was over. We put on some costumes and before we knew it, both Lachie and I were literally covered in glitter from head to toe. I was worried about not falling asleep so we had 2 caiprinhas each… it is safe to say it went straight to our heads and we danced and danced until 3 am. It was such a fun night, but unfortunately the next day I was in no state to get on the bus to explore Barra. We just stayed local, went for a swim and enjoyed the last of the wonderful freshly squeezed juices on every street corner.
I forgot how amazing it is to have access to a beach and space and nature so close to the city. I came back to Sao Paulo completely energised. Even though we trained a lot, the training was perhaps not as intense as at Alliance, so even my body was feeling good.
If only Sao Paulo moved to Rio…