If you follow me on Instagram you may well have seen that somehow I was lucky enough to swap two of my not-so-lovely night turnarounds to Mashhad and Hyderabad (both leaving at atrocious times of the night and coming back around lunchtime-ish!) for a flight to Rio de Janeiro!
Now, for anyone that is crew, you’ll know that this is a practically impossible trip to swap on to! Rio is one of our most highly desired trips, and even after bidding for it for years I’ve only been lucky enough to get it once, way back when I was still working in economy. You can read all about it here. This time around, instead of heading onwards to Buenos Aires (and then back to Rio for another day) I would be spending 30 hours in Rio and then flying back to Dubai.
I can’t lie, working in first class does have it’s perks. Whilst economy and business class were completely chockablock, we were lucky enough to just have one passenger in first! So in-between looking after him and the flight deck and helping out in economy to keep ourselves busy, the 14-hour flight went by fairly smoothly.
We touched down in Rio in the afternoon, and were welcomed by beautiful sunshine and palm trees.
The hotel we stay at has changed since the last time I did this trip, but despite the location being slightly outside of the main city, it was right by the beach.
My room was beautiful and the view from my balcony was even more incredible!
We had arranged to all meet for dinner a bit later on, so until then I hung out in my room resting from the flight and enjoying the beautiful sunset. It was so stunning I couldn’t help but take plenty of pictures!
After the sun went down, I headed down to the bar to meet up with a few of the others for a pre-dinner drink. We sat outside in the balmy evening temperatures, before meeting up with the rest of the crew for some dinner.
As I’m sure most crew do in Rio de Janeiro, we decided to go to a “churrascaria”, a typical restaurant serving up all sorts of meat. The one we chose was called Rio/Brasa, and according to the website it serves over 40 different cuts of meat!
You head to the salad bar first and help yourself to all sorts of salads, breads, sushi and more, and then once you’re back at the table there is a small card which is red on one side and green on the other. If you leave it with the green side up, the meat just keeps on coming, and once you’ve had enough you flip it over to the red side.
After having enough meat to last me a long time, and all starting to feel rather tired from being awake forever, it was time to head back to the hotel.
We had big plans for the next day…to go hang gliding! Whilst on the bus from the airport to the hotel the driver distributes leaflets offering hang gliding, and so a small group of us arranged to meet the next day at 8. When I woke up the sky was looking a bit cloudy but there was some blue peeking through, so I was feeling pretty hopeful that we would be able to go.
As we arrived at breakfast, the clouds started to cover the sky even more, and there was a definite chill in the air. The men in charge of the hang gliding met us in the lobby, and explained a little bit about how it works. However, all of us were watching the clouds get thicker and the wind pick up even more, and were starting to feel like it might not happen.
The guys had a team on the beach checking out the weather, and they waited for updates from them….and then it started to rain. Looks like hang gliding was not meant to be! All of us were feeling pretty sad, as we’d all been really looking forward to the incredible views over Rio, but at the end of the day safety comes first and if it’s too rainy and windy there’s no point in risking it.
In fact, since being back in Dubai, I got a message from one of the girls on the trip (the rest of the crew went on to Buenos Aires and then back to Rio) and the weather was much better on the return sector. However, the first girl to jump was extremely unlucky and there was a sudden change in the wind, which resulted in her and the hang gliding pilot who was with her, crashing and ending up in hospital in intensive care. A truly horrible accident and one that honestly made me glad of the bad weather that meant we couldn’t go…if you’re thinking of going hang gliding just know that accidents do happen. Luckily they both survived but it was a pretty close call.
So I now had a whole day to spend in Rio with rain lashing down, and after an unsuccessful walk to the beach (our umbrellas turned inside out before we even managed to get to the sand!) we decided to head to the nearby shopping mall. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed to have come all the way to Brazil and gone to a shopping mall, but at the end of the day sometimes you just have to be prepared for a change of plans!
We stocked up on Havaiana flip-flops (a quarter of the price of anywhere else in the world!) and managed to find a delicious açai bowl to snack on.
The others had to go back to the hotel to get ready for their wake-up call for Buenos Aires, so I decided to spend a bit more time at the mall, since I didn’t have much else to do by myself.
Later on after arriving back at the hotel I managed a trip to the gym, and tried some “moqueca”, a delicious Brazilian seafood stew for my dinner. I even had a couple of hours to nap before the flight home. The clouds were so thick that you couldn’t even see the mountains in the distance that had been so clear the day before!
I met up with my new crew, and we made the long trip home to Dubai. Once again the flight was pretty busy so we had plenty to do to keep ourselves awake!
One thing I’ll never get tired of is witnessing so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets from the cockpit windows….perks of the job!