A bould-ering move for Tokyo to include sport climbing in the 2020 Olympic games

As climbing has been confirmed as an Olympic sport, people all over the world are rising to the challenge. Hannah Slaney, 17 is a hopeful contender for competing at the 2020 games.

Hannah Slaney, 2016 (Bouldering at Bloc Climbing centre)

Hannah Slaney, 2016 (Bouldering at Bloc Climbing centre)

It’s 7am and like any normal teenager, Hannah Slaney will be considering rolling out of bed, deciding what to have for breakfast. However, this is her 16th weekend she will have spent away from Bristol competing. Since the age of eight, Slaney has been passionate about Climbing. Training over 20 hours a week, she has competed in some of the most prestigious international competitions. With Climbing becoming the newest member to the team of Olympic sports, she now has the chance to compete for her ultimate goal, which is Gold in the 2020 Tokyo games.

Hannah commented, “I like how physically and mentally challenging climbing can be. When I’m climbing I guess there’s nothing else going on in my world at that moment but focusing on the moves I’m making, one move at a time until I reach the top. It’s always satisfying when you complete a boulder or a route. But if you fall off, it can be hard not to get frustrated or demotivated. You just step back and think about what went wrong and try again! I think climbing has taught me a lot of life lessons.”

Skateboarding, karate, surfing and baseball/softball round out the selection of five sports added to the next Olympic games. These sports have been chosen to fit the theme of ‘youth’ at the games. IOC president Thomas Bach wrote, “ The five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games”.

Previous to the confirmation on the 3rd of August 2016 there have been mixed opinions surrounding the decision to include Climbing as an Olympic sport. The main concern is that the development into an Olympic sport moves it away from the traditional sense of climbing to explore the rock and test your personal ability.

Others are also concerned as to how these future Olympians will be adjudicated throughout the competition.

Slaney climbs for both the GB bouldering and lead climbing teams. Her biggest achievement to date was last year when she placed 1st nationally in the Junior British lead climbing championships. If anyone is behind climbing becoming an Olympic sport, it is this determined young lady.

Slaney reported, “Since the announcement of the sports inclusion things are starting to change within competitions. I can only imagine this is in response to the Olympic guidelines which will be preparing the athletes for the 2020 games.”  

 “It’s a possibility I could be competing in the Olympics and I’m really going to try but again, as athletes we are restricted with only 20 men and 20 women being picked worldwide.” She continues.

Hannah Slaney, 2015 (Lead Climbing – Portugal)

Hannah Slaney, 2015 (Lead Climbing – Portugal)

Bouldering consists of planning and climbing short problems within a short period of time. Without a rope, climbers use footholds to ascend the wall with safety mats below. The score is determined on how many problems you climb to the top of.

Whereas, lead climbing involves competitors attempting to climb a long route from bottom to top, clipping in pre-placed quick draws with a rope as they go. The climber’s performance is determined by the highest hold that is reached on the route.

 Slaney said, “The rule of competing in all three disciplines has really challenged athletes and restricted many of those who only compete in one or two. It doesn’t help that there is only two speed climbing walls in the whole of the UK restricting our training.”

Speed climbing is all about ascending the wall as fast as possible with a rope. There is a standard speed wall, so wherever you go to compete in speed around the world, the route will be exactly the same in respects to the same holds and height.

“I’ve built my life around the sport. It used to bother me when I couldn’t hang out with my friends or I’d be missing school but not so much anymore. I have friends on the team and get to travel the world most weekends.”

Alongside the hard work of the IFSC in a bid to push for climbing to be included in the 2020 Olympics, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) were also a significant support mechanism during the final push.  The BMC is a representative body for England and Wales, which was created with the purpose of protecting the hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers of the two nations. The organisation was also behind the world’s first competitive climbing event, the World Cup series that took place in 1989, Leeds.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing was founded in 2006 and accepted as a new member of the General association of International Sports Federation.  Since then, the sport has grown worldwide and competitions happen all over the world with the participation of over 75 different countries.

The most popular events include the World and Youth Championships, which Slaney has been competing in since the age of 13.

Philip Watson, a former member of the BMC, has been climbing since 1976. The 58-year-old discusses how traditional climbing has developed over the years and argues it should be classed as separate from lead climbing and bouldering.

He said, “Since a young age I have practised trad climbing, which was well before any indoor climbing centres were built. I would argue that recently, these two types of climbing have grown apart. The older generation know no different from traditional climbing whereas the younger generation don’t seem fussed about traditional climbing at all.”

Traditional climbing also known, as ‘trad’ is practised outside with the rock itself and unlike indoor routes, traditional routes have no bolts. The lead climber instead uses protection as they ascend the rock face, clipping in to the rope using a quick draw. This type of climbing is more dangerous and placing protection properly can be time consuming testing both strength and stamina.

Watson, who served for over 33 years in the Royal Marines band service, retired as a Major and progressed to achieve his Mountain Leader Award.  The award encompasses learning a great deal about his hobbies including mountaineering and climbing which he then teaches to individuals of all ages. Watson uses his award to help promote the great outdoors whilst introducing people to the different locations and gradients.

He said, “I think it was and is still for me about getting out there and being at one with the rock. Exploring what the rock has to offer and advancing our own ability.”

“After 3-4 years of indoor climbing, I can only imagine youngsters would become more or less bored of the sport if they weren’t to venture outside to traditional climbing. Even though I would have thought after indoor climbing, your future goal would be to move outdoors. Since the sports inclusion in the Olympics it is promoting indoor climbing which may put traditional climbing at risk.”

“I don’t disagree with the sports inclusion – hopefully it’ll encourage youngsters and raise awareness of the sport.”

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said, “The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realise their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games – the world's greatest sporting stage – and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life.” 

Slaney finished by saying “I think the Olympics would be good for both athletes and the public. There has been an increase in centres all over the country which provides us, the athletes with more newly improved spaces to practise whilst raising awareness for the public who may be encouraged to try the sport.”

Trump encourages students to attend first protest. How many others feel the same? §

“Say it loud, say it clear. Donald Trump is not welcome here”- were the chants filling Bristol City Centre this weekend. But will our actions even become a dot on his radar, on the other side of the pond?

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On late Saturday morning protestors gathered at the fountains in the city centre of Bristol to support what was initially a demonstration against the state visit of President Donald Trump in June. However there have been a number of developments in Trump’s hate-inducing rhetoric during the build up to this protest; including the travel ban, bombings and refugees. So on my arrival, there were not only a variety of banners and chants, but also a range of different purposes for people being there.

Thanks to Trump aka the world’s leader of destruction, it has been a busy week of protesting for Bristol. But you probably realised that from the continuous photo and status updates popping up all over your timeline… right? This is a perfect example of society, jumping on the bandwagon, announcing their very important opinions all over social media acting like newly qualified politicians who we must listen to. This comes as no surprise with over 2,000 people recorded as attending protests on both Wednesday and Saturday in Bristol city centre.

For two friends and me, this was the first protest we have attended.  After much deliberation ahead of the day, waking up to sunshine blasting through my window was the final decision maker; so we headed down to check it out.

On arrival there was energy reverberating through the crowd as the organisers took it in turns to chant appropriate lyrics. It was evident from the creative use of language on the banners sprawled in the air how much anger Trump has incited over the past month. One banner held by a child of around four read ‘I throw less tantrums that Donald Trump’. Feeling left out and disappointing without a witty banner of our own, ‘the Socialist Worker’ kindly gave us posters to wave throughout the day (mine read ‘Refugees welcome here. Open the borders and let them in’). It was after this, we felt very much a part of the march… yet still unsure of what was to happen next we waited for things to unfold.

Throughout the afternoon, alongside the ridiculously cool sound systems, we heard from a variety of speakers, all hoping to voice their antagonism concerning one dispute or another. All who spoke proved passionate, but kept their speeches short and sweet. The final speaker really stuck out for me, exposing the realities of Trump and his ridiculous allegations. A University of Bristol student goaded the audience stating, “I went to sleep one evening Kamal Mohamed and woke up the next Kamal Mohamed the terrorist.”

After the rally had formed and the crowd was hyped, the journey began around Bristol city centre. Blocking roads. Roaring through the streets we brought laughter, commotion, singing and dancing. All of which continued for at least three hours. Bystanders watched, joined in or aggressively snarled, “Get out of my way”.

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The protest as a whole I expected to be more chaotic and raucous. I mean, yes we were chanting loudly, but what about all the havoc for president Trump?

“From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!”

At one point, a group of about twenty of us were dancing and singing in the streets. It felt good to be surrounded by like-minded people in the hope of making a difference. I’m not sure if it would have been different on a cold, winters day but it was a great turn out and way more fun than I have ever imagined a protest to be.

In today’s society, the media constantly reminds us of such issues, including Trump and his outrageous decisions. As someone who grew up in a small country town, this was a far cry from anything I’d ever had to chance to be apart of, so I was surprised to see so many young people attending. Although it was enjoyable to see such a variety of ages present, these younger individuals were the ones filling up your newsfeed, all they wanted was for people to know they were there and be holding the most hysterical banner.

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Coming away from the march, I have learnt a lot about protesting.

But the question still remains, really, how much of a difference are we making?

On the busiest day of the week, with the sun shining, in a hectic major UK city – we march, blocking the streets, tormenting the traffic, bellowing through the roads… It was fun while it lasted

So Mr President, if you’re reading this, this is not fake news! I am reporting the actual happenings on the march against you…

Book review - Into The Wild

Target Audience: young travellers @ https://www.vice.com/en_us/topic/book-reviews

“I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL” were the brief concluding words of Alex McCandless as the world lost him for the second and final time, Into The Wild. The novel written by Jon Krakauer successfully reverberates every feeling you could possibly imagine a piece of literature to pull out of you.

Telling the story of a young inspiring individual, Krakauer re-writes the story of Chris J McCandless and his travels across America leading up to his ultimate journey into Alaska. “The trip was to be an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word, an epic journey that would change everything.” Krakauer became acquainted with McCandless story only weeks after his body was found in the Alaskan mountains, August 1922. Contacted in the hope that he would write a piece for Outsider Magazine sponsoring this brave adventurer, it was to Krakauer’s surprise that he would be inspired past the 9,000 words and progress to write an entire novel about the protagonists voyage. The author’s note introduces both McCandless and Krakauer - exploring their connection and the path taken to produce such an overwhelming yet detailed and informative piece of literature. Krakauer writes in third person narrative about McCandless, formerly known as Alexander Supertramp and his adventures Into The Wild.

The story begins at the end, when Krakauer can be seen to reveal his biggest secret to the audience; a party of moose hunters, exploring the Alaskan landscape who came across Chris McCandless body. From this point onwards, I was in constant demand of both needing and wanting to know what had happened. Because the events are not in chronological order, this can be a challenge for the reader alongside continually questioning what is going to transpire. The writer heightens the atmosphere drawing us into the developing exploration of McCandless and the numerous encounters along his way. As the adventurer’s tale begins to unfold, we as the audience are taken on a journey ourselves. It becomes clear from the acknowledgement of the people McCandless met throughout his trip that he was an extremely memorable character, described as intelligent, funny and passionate by many. From the first encounter McCandless experienced with Westernberg, although the detail can sometimes be minimal, I felt in so many ways connected with him alongside all the other people he met along his way. Krakauer establishes well, his true understanding of the relationships shared between the young adventurer and everyone he met along the way. The details are prolific and really guide the audience along the way of his travels, significantly restoring faith in humanity.

Krakauer puts emphasis on the last man that McCandless met on his journey. Ronald Franz seemed to have a significant influence on Alex and vice versa. “When I heard his voice it was like sunshine after a month of rain” (55) which evokes this idea that not only did Alex have a lasting impression on most of the people, if not all that he met, but that they were concerned for his safety after the discussion of his Alaskan adventure. Krakauer follows the story through with Franz, as he writes “Astoundingly, the eighty- one-year-old man took the brash twenty-four-year-old vagabond’s advice to heart” (59). The details of Franz moving out of his house, storing his stuff away and moving out to the Bajada confirmed this everlasting impact McCandless left behind specifically with Franz, but also many others.

The rest of the McCandless family arguably didn’t feel the same. “I just don’t understand why he had to take those kind of chances,” Billie protests, through her tears. “I just don’t understand it at all.” (132) Krakauer provides to a great extent the relationship Alex shared with his mother Billie, father Walt, sister Carine and her dog Buck. The development throughout the story helps us to come terms with the reasoning behind Alex’s Adventure:

1.     Leaving without saying goodbye

2.     Burning all his money

3.     Abandoning his car

4.     Changing his name

5.     Congratulating himself at Day 100 for sustaining this new lifestyle he had always dreamed off

Krakauer has based the story on his own youthful assent of the Alaskan peak with insights into his age, thoughts and feelings about the world… As a whole the piece was perfectly written for me. I felt on edge at all points of the novel and Krakauer successful entices the reader, similarly to his previous text ‘Eiger Dreams: Venture Among Men and Mountains’. Until chapter eight, you may not know that Krakauer is basing the adventure on his own youth and interpretations of life.  It is only until later in novel where we are reminded that Krakauer wants to indulge his own experience. His reasoning behind this being, he can make links with McCandless and his own youth, as they share similar understandings of life and witnessed a similar upbringing. These chapters were the only points where I tried to skim read past anything I felt was irrelevant to McCandless. I was so interested in finding more out about Alex that I was rushing through Krakauer personal parts to continue the adventure with Alex.  Equally, until this point, it wasn’t obvious that Krakauer was writing as a ghost. Although the story is written in third person, it seems plausible that it was developed based solely on what people had discussed about their encounters with Alex alongside his diary entries and the letters which were sent and received.

Similar to Chris McCandless, Krakauer developed a passion for climbing at a young age from his father; this hobby determined the topic of his first book.  ‘Eiger Dreams: Venture Among Men and Mountains’ was written 3 years previous to Into The Wild. The book is a collection of non-fiction articles and essays discussing mountaineering and rock climbing, both things Krakauer had a passion for. Originally published in 1992, this selection of his work has been classed as one of the greatest in terms of discussing mountaineering and its extensive hardships. Similar to Into The Wild, Krakauer manages to work with the audience, connecting with us throughout every moment of the story, exploring the individual’s thoughts and feelings. The hardships of Alaska are picked up on in Eiger Dreams, where Krakauer discusses how two men scale a frozen waterfall over a four hundred feet drop – this would aid his later understanding of the dangers Alex McCandless was facing.

From the beginning of the novel in the authors note Krakauer develops this understanding of criticism. He touches upon the follow up of his article in Outsider and how it can be tricky to please everyone. Krakauer reveals he understands the stupidity aspect to McCandless and his journey, but picks up on the familiarities between himself and Alex at a young age wanting to explore. Escaping society. Krakauer discusses that “In the weeks and months following the publication of the article in Outsider, it generated more mail than any other article in the magazines history” (11).  It becomes apparent even within the text, that people were constantly underestimating McCandless, including Krakauer at one point. After McCandless death, the Veteran Alaskan Hunters suggest that the moose he arguably killed “was definitely a Caribou,” Samuel had scornfully piped in. “When I read in the paper that he thought he’d shot a moose, that told me right there he wasn’t no Alaskan. There’s a big difference. You’d have to be pretty stupid not to be able to tell them apart.” (176) This was an eye opener for Krakauer showing McCandless was ill prepared for his trip; he didn’t know anything as the veteran Alaskan hunters were suggesting. Yet, Krakauer later restores our faith in McCandless, reporting “the animal was a moose, as a close examination of the beasts remains now indicated and several of McCandless photographs of the kill later confirmed beyond all doubt”. (177)

McCandless’s story really inspired me and I’m sure many others. Chris was obviously a profound character from day one, which we can relate to through the snippets Krakauer includes, involving good deeds done throughout his life. It is these occasions when we realise how optimistic McCandless really was and you can relate to the way he thought. Krakauer recalls “he spent the ten bucks on a big bag of hamburgers, and we drove around handing them out to smelly guys sleeping on grates. It was the weirdest Friday night of my life. But Chris did that kind of thing a lot.” (114)

Aside from all of the criticism and pain attached to this journey, Krakauer successfully exposes Alex McCandless and his journey throughout Into The Wild.

“McCandless wasn’t some feckless slacker, adrift and confused, racked by existential despair. To the contrary: His life hummed with meaning and purpose. But the meaning he wrestled from existence lay beyond the comfortable path: McCandless distrusted the value of things that came easily. He demanded much more of himself – more, in the end, than he could deliver” (Krakauer, 183).

Travelogue - travelling alone...

The truth about travelling alone

“You’ll meet so many people,” they say… “Travelling alone has got to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” they say … but as soon as my journey alone began, fear was the only thing that clouded my mind.

I have been travelling around luscious Brazil with 2 friends now for around about 3 weeks. It has been truly spectacular; we have seen, smelt and eaten it all. But it was time for Jess and Julian to depart home to sunny Cirencester and for me to carry on my adventure, solo. After spending our last morning together on Ipanema Beach, Rio De Janeiro – I caught a taxi from the highway and waved off my fellow travellers who I would be seeing in a few weeks (well, if I made it alone). Heading towards Rio airport, I was considering what my next location would bring. After years of longing to visit Salvador – I was intrigued by the colourful city and its historical architecture.

Rewind… This is not how it actually went down.

As the taxi approached Jess, Julian and I – I started shaking, considering whether I was making the wrong decision going off on my own in a country where I couldn’t even speak the language. I held it together as I got into the taxi and waved them off. Pulling away, the tears rolled down my face. Unsure of what to do, the skinny, young, tanned taxi driver passed me a box of tissues. As I watched the uber driver following his satnav, I began to realise he was off route and passing through dodgy parts of the city. My sadness instantly turned to fear. As I tried to question the driver, he looked at me and shook his head. Unsure of whether he didn’t want to reply or that he spoke no English. I sat in shock and began to consider any opportunities I had of escaping this taxi and preferably with my massive rucksack in the boot.

5 minutes later…

I asked again, “excuse me sir, where are we going exactly?” and this time he pointed at the satnav, which showed we were still not on track. In fact, the estimated time of arrival had nearly doubled. The driver then started calling someone, speaking in Portuguese down the phone I tried to grasp any parts of the conversation, attempting to gain any kind of insight into what he was planning to do with me. And then…

We pulled up outside an apartment block and 2 people were waiting outside. A business man stood, in a three-piece pinstriped suit with a pink tie, next to a beautiful Brazilian woman with long brown hair down to her waist, bulging blue eyes, wearing a floaty floral dress to the knee with small kitten heels. They stood behind two of the biggest suitcases I had ever seen and I guessed, I mean, hoped, that they were joining us.

Luckily for me, the uber driver hopped out, popped the boot and they slipped into the back seats. I smiled and said “hello”, they replied with “hello” and a large set of smiles. I was guessing they spoke limited English, as that was the end of the conversation.

 

An hour later, I finally saw signs for the airport and let out a large sigh of relief. As they had for most of the journey, the taxi driver and my fellow accompanies, continued to chat in Portuguese. At many points throughout the journey I wished I had secretly spoken the language so I could listen in or even join in and pay attention to whatever they were saying. But instead I sat and thought about how rude and uncultured they must have thought I was. Coming to a country without knowing the language, expecting them to speak English. The more I thought about it, the more stupid I felt.

A three-hour plane journey later, I had experienced one of the most memorable flights of my travels so far. It began with the most beautiful views of Rio De Janiero from above and ended with the loudest of roars from the passengers as the pilot successfully touched down. This was my 9th flight in the Brazilian region and it had become apparent that applause was a significant thing that the Brazilian people do in this part of the world. It was so lovely to see these people so thankful for our successful landing; it contrasts massively to the arrogant and impatient Brits who generally demand to exit the plane as it lands.

The reunions at the airport made me weep, it was like a scene from love actually as families rushed towards each other cheering, whilst also balling their eyes out. But for me, it was the next part of my adventure… Finding out how to get into the city of Salvador and then finding my hostel. Did I mention it was ten past midnight and the darkness of a new place, was wearily uninviting? I pondered for a while, considering if I had the courage to ask other travellers if they were heading my way, which I wasn’t even sure of myself at that point. But all of a sudden, my courageous independent travelling voice disappeared and I sat for a while, again… considering why I thought travelling alone was the right thing to do.

“Can I help you, young lady?” offered a voice from behind, as I pulled at my rucksack from the baggage collection. He was a tall, slender, older man whose t-shirt read, ‘hop on, hop off bus rides’. “Where are you going? Can I offer you any guidance?” I must have been radiating nerves, crying out ‘Help me’ as I stood questioning what I was doing here, on my own, yet again. I stared at him for a good 2 minutes, firstly thinking jheeze this guys English is good but after pulling myself together I replied, “Yes, please. I’m heading for Salvador the Acai hostel?, Do you know it?”

Within 10 minutes I was relaxed back in a leather seat, on a mildly decent looking mini bus, only 20 Brazillian reals down surrounded by a range of different travellers. It was now around half past midnight and all I wanted to do was arrive safely at the hostel and enjoy a quiets night sleep… little did I know it was party night every night in Salvador.

I was the last person on the bus when I was awoken by the driver. As he pointed awkwardly at a square, he told me to, “Follow that street”. Half asleep… rushing to get my bags, I Google mapped the hostel from the bus and asked him “where do I go?” Again, he pointed down the street, which was lit by the dimmest of street lamps and still, in the early hours of the morning, groups of people were hovering by the side of the road.

The first tip I was given on discussing my trip to Salvador was to be conscious of your valuables at all times. “Do not get your phone out at night” said one guy; “Just don’t get it out at all” said another. And here I was, walking along a street, somewhere in Brazil, in nearly pitch-black darkness, following Google maps in a panic to arrive to safety. 

200 meters of cobbled steps, two steep hills and two circles of the square later… I arrived at the loudest hostel I had ever stayed, in the past 4 years of my travelling. The giant steel doors, which guarded the hostel, made me all the more nervous about being out there in the pitch black dark. Luckily, after catching someone’s eye inside, they let me in. It was then that I finally felt safe again, after a mere 6 hours before when leaving Jess and Julian’s side.

The hostel was full of travellers, and loud travellers at that. I was blown away by the noises, which surrounded me after my significantly quite walk over here.  Among the noise I heard a range of languages, yet, the fellow British accent stuck out like a sore thumb. After checking in and attempting to teach myself a small amount of Portuguese from the hostel blackboard – I headed to my dorm in the hope of making it feel as homely as possible and getting a decent nights sleep.

I was so wrong to assume that would actually happen though. 20 minutes later I was awoken by the lights flickering outside the window, which fell directly in the path of my eyes, as my head was resting on my pillow. Another 30 minutes later, the air-conditioning broke and I started to sweat like I have never sweated before. After finally closing my eyes and finding the right temperature, the after party, which was apparently happening in my dormitory, awaked me. But what was I to do? I didn’t know anyone. I was deprived of sleep and unsure of how to act in such a situation so led down and …

New day, new morning, new me – I told myself. Venturing up to attend the ‘free breakfast buffet’ I was shocked to see only 4 people. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the only ‘free’ part of the holiday you’re ever going to get. This was what drew me to this hostel in the first place, alongside its cheap prices.  

As I sat at breakfast, I managed to join in with the other 4 girls sitting at the table. It was evident these girls didn’t party last night as they were looking fresh and lively, I cant imagine what they thought I had been doing last night looking all ragged and dreary. New to this whole independent travel, I was unsure of how to introduce myself or even what to say. How do people do this, I thought?

Luckily, they made the first move. “Hey, what’s your name? I’m Annie.” Said one. “I’m Jen” said another. “I’m Steph and this is Paula,” said another.

Relieved, I piped up and managed to get me name out. “Daisy” I said.

“Where are you guys all from?” there was such a range of accents. It was incredible that all four were from different angles of the world, yet we were sat there, the five of us speaking English in a small Brazilian city.

“I’m planning to head out to Morro De Sao Paulo tomorrow”, said one. “It’s so beautiful, you’re going to love it.” Said another.

Intrigued as to what they were talking about, I flicked through the tour book as they discussed their most recent adventures. The book was filled with the most idyllic and picturesque images of beaches, town centres and all things wonderful, which could be found in the surrounding area. It was then that I knew I’d made the right decision to come. With the surrounding sights of Salvador looking so wonderful, I could only imagine what was waiting for me outside the front door. By the end of breakfast, I was no longer travelling alone. My two weeks left in Brazil were planned in the space of less than an hour and with people I had merely just met. But I was so excited for what was to come…

I would leave for Morro De Sao Paulo in the morning with Annie. Explained as a beautiful, car free village, on the north-eastern tip of Brazils Tinhare Island - we would swim with turtles, eat ice cream for breakfast, surf until the sun went down, and consume the most delicious seafood with the waves between our feet.

But until then… I had Salvador to explore and my goodness was it the most beautiful of cities I had ever laid eyes on. It exceeded any previous expectations or images I had imagined. Known for its colonial Portuguese architecture, it was easy to get lost after being taken away into a fairy-tale land from above and beyond. I was staying in the Pelourinho neighbourhood, recognised for its historic heart with baroque churches hidden between the colourful buildings and cobblestone alleyways, which created a maze of wonder. As I walked down the hustle and bustle of the markets, I was surrounded by the most delicious smells, which enticed me, even after the free breakfast buffet. Once into the lower part of the town, looking up to see the glorious verdant Cliffside, the colours of the city were more prominent than ever.

That evening, I was apart of the loud noises, which erupted out the doors of our hostel. Finally feeling like I had made some friends and I was right about the travelling alone thing. It was time to let loose and we were all getting ready for the biggest night of the week in Salvador. Tuesday evenings are like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Meant only for dancing in the streets - crowds follow the most energetic drum troupe around the historical city. The samba-reggae rhythms are unforgettable. Young local children were painting us (the foreigners) in white paint, all over our bodies, which is said to be a historical tradition. They painted beautiful traditional symbols in return for a small donation into their creatively covered water bottles.

If I learnt anything about my travels in Brazil, apart from the beauty of which the landscape withholds, it is that the people sure know how to party. I have come away form Brazil with irreplaceable memories and a talented samba dancer. 

So just remember, travelling alone isn’t all that bad. “You’ll meet so many people” and I can honestly say, “It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had”.

Guidebook Entry - Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

This piece was part of my 6,000 word travel writing and modernity final project. 

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Casting a watchful eye over Rio’s favelas, city beaches and the navy blue Atlantic beyond, like the almighty himself, Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is one of the most instantly recognisable Seven New Wonders of The World. Jaw dropping and epiphany inducing, it’s worth all the hyperbole thrown at it by travel editors.

Created by Catholics to counter what they considered as a spiritual vacuum between churches and state in Brazil after the brutal desolation of the First World War, to this day the statue is still a potent symbol of hope and inspiration to the rich and poor that dwell 700 meters below it.  Designed by Da Silva Costa and built by Paul Landowski, the 98 foot-tall Art Deco sculpture, due to the logistical challenges of building on top of a mountain, took nine years to complete.  Although they are not visible, allegedly the workers, who covered the statue with its 6 million soapstone tiles, wrote hidden messages on the back of them.

Given that this is on many people’s bucket list, overcrowding can diminish the integrity of your experience; for a more intimate experience with this stunning statue and its 360- degree views of Rio, try and catch the first 8am train or wait for the crowds to thin after 4pm. Alternatively it’s usually quieter behind the statue, with equally spellbinding views.

Trains and tickets are available from the bottom of mount Corcovado, where you are transported by bus to the first peak where you can take the steps leading to the statue or alternatively escalators to the different levels. If you want to build an appetite for lunch (which is available after the second set of stairs) take the 220 steps, alternatively for the disabled and those averse to walking take the elevator (from the bus stop). We recommend following the steps which unveil a new angle of Rio at every turn, with mind blowing views and a chance to top up your tan, be ready to take in some of the most in demand visions of Rio De Janeiro.

There is an opportunity to make your own way up to the first peak of this attraction whether that is by car or walking. Tour guides suggest going in groups due to cases of assaults and muggings, which have previously occurred. Whichever way you choose to ascent be wary of the weather at all times, it would be disappointing to get all this way to see a city concealed by clouds.

Opening hours are between 8am to 7pm.

Prices vary during the seasons but you should expect to pay 50 Brazilian Real equivalent to around 13 British Pounds or 15 US dollars.