Joao Pessoa to Paraty

We awoke at 8:30am, completed the last bit of packing and cleaning, and left the condo around 9:30am for our 11:40am flight to Rio. The taxi we took to the airport was the craziest taxi we have ever had – there were multiple times an accident seemed inevitable. Once at the airport we checked in and visited the ATM (which rejected JT’s debit card, since apparently Capital One did not un-cancel it, as they said they would do the night before). In the surprisingly-large Joao Pessoa terminal (surprisingly since there is only one runway with no taxiway), we ate at a Brazilian hamburger chain Bob’s Burgers before going through security and boarding the plane.

In the check-in line and then again before boarding the plane, we talked with an Indian-heritage family from Connecticut. They were in town for RoboCup too; the 7th-grade daughter had participated in RoboCup Junior. Although she had won one of the competitions, the parents (both professors) were (understandably) disappointed that she had participated in the dance competition and not the soccer or rescue competitions. They invited Katie to an all-expenses-paid trip to Connecticut for a week to teach their daughter and her classmates some simple robotics. Katie hopes that it will work out in the spring (Feb/Mar).

Gol Flight 1883 – Joao Pessoa to Rio
Joao Pessoa Presidente Castro Pinto (JPA): Gate ??, Runway 16, Scheduled: 11:40a, Actual: 11:52a
Rio de Janeiro/Galeao (GIG): Gate ??, Runway ??, Scheduled: 2:57p; Actual: 2:34p
Flight Time: 2h 42m; Direct miles: 1,216
PR-GGN; Boeing 737-8EH(WL); Initial delivery: Aug 13, 2009; 187 seats (187 C)
Seat: 15A and 15B, Coach, Exit Row

We were on a Gol Airlines 737-800. We lucked out and somehow got assigned the emergency exit row (although this meant that we could not store our bags under the seat in front of us)! We took-off on runway 16 (headed SSE) and enjoyed our views looking east towards Joao Pessoa as we continued south. We even got to see the convention center! As has become commonplace for JT on a moving vehicle, he slept a good bit of the ride down.

The Gol plane was comfortable. Although all the in-flight foods and drinks cost money, cups of water were free. Some Gol 737-800 seating tips: rows 15-16 are emergency exit rows, rows 1-7 have extra legroom, there are missing windows around rows 12-14. Despite reading about entertainment options being broadcast over a wi-fi connection (without internet access), there was no such option in our plane.

At the Rio international airport (GIG), our plane parked on the tarmac and we had to take a bus from the plane to the terminal (other Gol planes were parked at gates though). Our luggage took a long time to come out – but eventually did, unlike our teammates (hopefully the bags made the connection to the US!). While waiting, we chatted with an Australian looking to split the R$90 ride down to Copacabana Beach. We told him about the much-cheaper bus option – and congratulated him on the RoboCup championship for Australia. Once our backpacks appeared, we headed outside the arrivals lounge to catch the Real Premium Omnibus to the rodovario. Premium Omnibus has pickup locations at both the international and domestic terminals. The bus stops at the domestic terminal and then stops at the international terminal. So, the trip can last even longer if you are transferring from a domestic arrival. The bus from airport to rodavario cost us R$13.50/person, although another said R$12. There are four different route numbers, so beware what bus you are taking and where it is headed.

The drive from the international airport to the bus station took us through very industrial areas. In general, Rio looked a bit sad and depressing today, perhaps just because of all the clouds and misty rain.

Once at the bus station, we hurried to the Costa Verde ticket counter, which was downstairs on the other side of the terminal from where the Premium Onmibus dropped us off. Since the 4 pm bus was already gone (it was 4:15), we bought two tickets on the 6 pm bus to Paraty. We got seats 41 and 42, which were in the last row on the left by the bathroom. Then we got dinner in the food court area at Bob’s Hamburgers again – utilizing the free Wi-Fi in the food court while we ate. We got cold medicine for Katie at the drugstore, and then attempted to find a place to buy bottled water. Apparently no stores in the bus station sell bottled water! The quasi-English-speaking tourist info person explained it as “no sale, free!” and pointed to a water fountain. We passed on this option.

We boarded the bus around 5:55pm, but it did not end up leaving until 6:10pm. Our seats at the back of the bus ended up great – they were elevated over the rest of the seats and reclined completely. The bathroom did not smell, but we were bothered periodically by people going to and from the bathroom. Overall, the Costa Verde bus was very spacious and comfortable.

The bus had a bathroom, but about an hour into the bus ride we stopped at a restaurant/convenience store (also named Costa Verde). JT hopped off and got some bottled water and “coxinha” (shredded chicken, battered and then fried) snacks – the same type we ate at RoboCup. Alcohol was cheap at the bar at this stop (R$4 caipirinha), but they were not serving alcohol when we stopped for some reason. The bus stayed at the stop for around 20 minutes.

Soon after leaving the stop, we went through two pretty long tunnels and started seeing the coast. This trip must be absolutely beautiful during the day! Hopefully our travels back towards Rio will take us along parts of this road again. Due to the mountainous terrain, the ride ended up being pretty bumpy and curvy at points. If you travel during the day, we do recommend being on the left side of the bus though, as then you can easily see the coast!

We stopped at the Angra bus station around 8:45 pm, and stayed for 10 minutes. The bus station was small (7 platforms) but had a food stand and was very close to the coast.

Once we arrived we walked to the Adventure Hostel Paraty (R$250 for three nights in a standard double bed private with shared bathroom, booked through HostelWorld). It turns out that there is a literary festival in town right now, so the hostel was completely full. But we got our reserved shared-bath double room as promised. There are actually two beds in this room – a queen-sized bed and a twin bed. Although finding reception was a bit difficult (in the locked gate, down the alley, in the front door, up the stairs, to the right, through the door, through the living room, turn left, turn right, and then turn right into the kitchen area), it was great to be have an English-speaking reception! The hostel is well located just 200m from the bus station and is very clean! Do note that you have to bring your own towels, which was not a problem for us.

The lady running the hostel recommended a sandwich stand (Jorge Lanches) a few blocks away, so we went to check it out. Katie got a ham, egg and cheese sandwich for R$6 and JT got a chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese for R$9. They were cooked fresh just for us, and were perfect for a late-night snack or meal. Highly recommended! Then we wandered around the historic center for a while. We stumbled across an outdoor party/concert. There were hundreds of Brazilians listening to a live band in a church courtyard right next to the coast. Alcohol was free-flowing. We saw many people walking around with entire bottles of wine – and many others with beers. We stayed and listened/watched/enjoyed for a while before heading back to the hostel around 12:45 am.

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