[Part 5 of 5 - The Paralympic Games]

The last part of our incredible trip happened to overlap with the start of the Paralympic Games...so why not go along? Paddy had originally tried to book us tickets to the opening ceremony about a week or so before we left home, but unfortunately they had sold out. However, Rio then released more 2 days before the ceremony, and we managed to bag a couple!

The opening ceremony was held at the Maracana Stadium, just a little bit out of the city centre - think like an equivalent to Wembley in London. It so happened that our seats were in a special section of the stadium; a decent chunk had white seats and all had packs on the seat asking us to wear ponchos in the ceremony itself, so we could take part! Thousands of miles away from home, my first time in South America...it was amazing to even be able to go to the Paralympics, let alone be part of the opening night!

The show itself was absolutely incredible, and a night neither of us will ever forget. The atmosphere was so welcoming and fun, and the crowd really got into the whole thing - the stadium was packed full! It turned out that our 'part' was actually nothing special...so much so that we still don't really know what it was, but the fact that we can say we were part of it is like a once in a lifetime chance so chuffed doesn't quite capture it!

The next day, we went to the Olympic Park in Barra, which was about an hour's journey from the city centre. It's a little way out, but full of shops and residential areas, as well as a huuuuuuge stretch of beach - the longest in Rio. We saw both the table tennis and wheelchair basketball which were so much fun and the athletes were really amazing - one table tennis player that we saw had no arms so was playing holding the bat in his mouth, it was so impressive!

It really struck us how special the Paralympics are, and how much of a shame it is that they don't receive as much coverage as the Olympics. These athletes have been through so much and are some of the strongest people in the world; it's incredible to see how much they have accomplished. It just goes to show how anyone can do anything they put their mind to, and these sportsmen and women are real role models and prime examples of that. They inspire and encourage so many people, and the whole games promotes such a positive message that a lot of people - particularly young people - would really benefit from.

These were our last 2 days in Brazil before we flew the 28-hour journey home (it was cheaper than going direct) and what a way to spend them. Trip of a lifetime!

I actually look slightly tanned here...it'll never happen again