Travel flashback: Why Brazil?

I have a feeling that over the next four years we're going to hear a lot about Brazil as a holiday destination. Rio 2016, anyone? But, six years ago it was a bit different. I'm not talking about the backpacker scene or a bespoke travel agency to sort things out - a holiday to Rio for Carnival, perhaps - but a typical Brazilian holiday in Brazil, a seaside town where the locals go for their summer break. We had two weeks between our Martinmas exams ending and Candlemas semester beginning for this holiday - OK we had about 11 days but that didn't stop us going for two weeks and starting classes late - and originally had planned on going to Barbados.

At that time though Thomson had just started trialling non-Rio Brazil to see if there was any interest from the Brits and somehow we struck lucky with this and the fact that we were able to fly a mere six days after we booked. For £430 each we got a return flight from Gatwick to Natal, our transfer and two weeks B&B at the 4* Visual Praia Hotel on Ponta Negra beach (pictured below), situated about 9 miles from Natal airport. I have had some holiday bargains in my lifetime, but I have never topped that deal. The flight alone should have cost more than that!

Of course, there were some added extras. We were in St Andrews, and our flight was at 10am from Gatwick. It cost us another £140 each for a (return) taxi to Edinburgh airport and a (return) BA flight from Edinburgh to Gatwick. We booked on the first flight down that day which in hindsight was incredibly silly as it was Scotland in January, it was snowing, and we all know how flights tend to get cancelled in those conditions... Thankfully we made our flight to Brazil and saw a marvellous sunrise in the sky with no more going wrong than Olga spilling her tea on the plane over a businessman. Oops. Oh, and it was only when picking up our baggage to check in for the Natal flight that I remembered to call my parents to tell them I was at the airport, heading to Brazil - I neglected to say which part or which hotel. Double oops.

Nowadays I wouldn't dream of flying without letting people know where I was staying and registering with LOCATE but at the age of twenty I didn't seem to get that you could have an adventure and still stay safe. Sorry Mum and Dad! Anyway, we arrived in London to snow and a temperature of -5°C. After a direct nine hour flight to Natal, the temperature was over 40°C and the sun was blazing. Hel-lo Southern Hemisphere summer! Brazil had definitely been an excellent choice and the adventure was only just beginning...

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