All Roads Lead to Mellow Yellow!

Backpacking & Trekking, Brazil, Hostels, Hotels & Resorts, Lost Girls RTW Adventure — By on September 14, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Most of the time on trips like ours, bad luck and bumps in the road are simply a matter of chance. But sometimes life will throw out so many signs pointing in one direction, and for better or worse, we’d be fools not to follow them. Such was the case recently in Brazil. Before touching down in the birthplace of samba, capirinhas and floss-sized bikinis, we’d been told by numerous travelers to high tail it immediately North to hit the pristine beaches Brazil was most famous for. So despite being completely enchanted by Rio de Janeiro’s wild, colorful and deliciously sultry culture, we stuck firmly to our plan to head to Salvador (the capital of Bahia) after just three days. But despite hearing from everyone that you can get super cheap, same day flights, securing a plane ticket did not seem to be in the cards.

The only reasonably priced airline with daily flights, Gol, soon became the bane of our existence. For hours, we battled with their website for a reservation. We’d find the perfect schedule, then the site would crash and the price would rise drastically the next time we’d check. Then, we’d find another flight we liked, put in all our personal info and credit card numbers and be told on the last page that our request could not be processed. “Oh yeah, Gol, the concierge at our hotel said when we explained our dilemma, their website rarely works.” Gee, that’s awesome, we thought. How the hell are we supposed to get out of Rio? The kind concierge even called the airline for us, only to get double to online quote for the same flight later that evening. He suggested we drive out to the airport ourselves (umm, no way) or ask a travel agent for help (now, we’re talking).

Holly and I went out in pursuit of an outside company to help us. “Yeah, we can totally book tickets for you” the receptionist at a nearby travel agency said. “But Gol only takes American Express from non-residence.” Sigh! Back to the hotel we went to get the only credit card we didn’t have with us. “Maybe this is a bad omen,” I said. “Yeah,” Holly agreed. “It kind of creeps me out, like we’re not supposed to get on this plane tonight.” Neither Holly nor I were particularly superstitious, but this whole situation was getting a bit ridiculous. After intercepting Amanda at our hotel and grabbing her Amex, we headed back to buy our tickets, already! “Oh my God. Is that what I think it is?” Holly exclaimed as we rounded the corner. The door to the travel agency was gated and locked. That was it. The travel gods were trying to tell us something. STAY IN RIO practically boomed down from the sky. There was only one problem. We had nowhere to go. Our three night, dream vacation in Rio’s most lux hotel, the Copacabana Palace Hotel (a generous hook up from their PR rep in exchange for magazine coverage), was ending. And since we thought we’d be half way to Salvador by now, we’d made no alternate arrangements.

After the concierge successfully booked us on a flight for a couple days later (the airline rep finally got sick of us calling), we asked him if he wouldn’t mind ringing Ipanema Beach House, a low budget hostel recommended by previous travel friends, to see if they had any availability. I wanted to crawl under the marble tiles as his white gloved hand dialed the number, but it was our best option considering how much time we’d already wasted. “Sorry, they’re full,” he said. OK. No surprise there with the luck we were having. I wondered if the Copacabana staff would notice if we spent the night in the business center. It was bigger than my entire apartment back home and there were plenty of comfy couches to accommodate a few Lost Girls. “OK, we’ll just have to try the hostel I saw around the corner,” Amanda said. “It was like The Slippery Banana or The Big Chill or something like that.” So she and Holly dashed over to check while I safeguarded our stuff.

They soon returned with the first bit of good news all day…The Mellow Yellow was happy to squeeze us in. Yeah! We celebrated with a long swim in the Olympic sized Palace pool followed by a steamy hot shower in the spa/gym. We were technically still guests, right? Though a little bummed to be leaving our five star surroundings, we knew we had to return to our real backpacking lives eventually. Little did we know that our new digs would offer another side of paradise that didn’t require crystal chandeliers, turndown chocolates or room service.

The second we stepped foot into Mellow Yellow, we knew all the hassles we’d endured had happened for a reason. Not only did the place come complete with a full-sized bar/lounge, free internet, game room and Jacuzzi tub (ok, that was kind of weird, but we went with it), it was teeming with loads of young backpackers – most of whom were prime male hotties from Ireland, Australia and England. It was a Lost Girls’ dream come true. To top it off, there was an all you could eat and drink BBQ for only $10 starting in an hour. Whoo hoo, we were home!

We stashed our stuff in our new room and headed to the bar. Relaxing with a capirinha, we all breathed a sigh of relief that the series of seemingly unfortunate events had landed us in Rio’s coolest hostel and allowed us some more time to explore the city – something we all wanted, yet didn’t openly share. Realizing we’d been fighting our impulses to stay in town a little while longer, we promised to never break our “go with the flow” “follow where the trip leads us” road rules again. After all, why should we be in a rush to leave a place we’d fallen in love with at first sight? Rio had everything. Long beaches to run on, outdoor markets that rivaled those in NYC, amazing food, beautiful people and a world famous nightlife – one that sadly we’d yet to indulge in during our first three days here. Now, we had the chance to redeem ourselves!

Before long, we’d met a ton of new ‘mellow’ friends and were all planning which bars to hit up after dinner. And thanks to Amanda’s sly little camera trick – “Umm, could you please take a picture of the three of us? OK, now we need one with you.” – we’d inducted enough men into our UK Hall of Fame to secure a great group of ‘bodyguards’ for our first real night on the town. After all, we always headed our parents’ advice: Be extra careful when going out after dark. We were definitely safe; and finally happy for the first time that day.

After nearly two months of backpacking in South America, we’d learned one important thing: Life on the road takes many turns, but it’s the little detours along the way that are often the most fulfilling. Fortunately for us, we veered off on the right path this time. Cuz although we’ve found some great spots by following our guidebooks, it almost always pays to follow your gut.

So as we walked arm in arm with our newfound girl friends and muscle bound buddies, we gave a little nod of approval up to the cosmos for leading us to Mellow Yellow.

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    4 Comments

  • Buttercup says:

    It sounds like the universe guided you in the right direction. Hope the bar-hopping was a blast!

  • M says:

    Anything named from a 60s Beatles song had to be good

  • ...my 2 cents says:

    I agree, lives little detours are often alot more fun than anything we could have planned. Glad you all enjoyed your extended stay!

  • luciana says:

    lol, plane tickets here in Brazil are indeed really hard to get.
    actually, pretty much everything is king of a mess, if you might have noticed.
    but it is still a great place and people are just really nice!
    did you get to go to Sao Paulo?