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Published: February 25th 2012
Day 133 Tuesday 21st
Sorry nothing much to report today it was a very lazy day just looked around the shops. In the afternoon we went to beach kiosk for a few drinks and then onto a café for dinner.
Day 134 Wednesday 22nd
We got up at a decent time today had brekkie and out the door to catch the metro to Largo do Machado. Our Portuguese is getting a lot better these days as we can now say “Bong dia, dois Unitario por favour” (Hello 2 singles tickets please) and the ticket attendant understands us. Of course this is about the limit of our abilities and we are sort of looking forward to getting back to a Spanish speaking country soon. From the Metro station we sort of guessed what bus we needed to catch and once again tried out our limited Portuguese on the driver and he sort of nodded that we were on the right bus. When we sat down an English girl behind us asked us if we were on the right bus to see Cristo Redentor as she didn’t speak Portuguese and like
The cog train up to Cristo Redentor
us just jumped on. Thankfully it was the right bus and the driver gave us a shout out when we arrived at our destination.
The final part of the journey was via a cog train to the top of the 710 metre high Corcovado. It cost a steep 43 Reals ($26) each and after lining up for 30 minutes to get tickets we then had to wait a further hour before we could board. The train runs every 20 minutes but because there are only 2 carriages and the high number of tourists everyone gets an allocated time. Whilst lining up a screen tells you when your train will be and we knew that we had an hour wait, on our return that had moved out to two hours. The English girl told us that she was told by another tourist that on the carnival weekend the wait was 4 hours. The view from the train up was nice as it goes through a dense jungle like park and the whole journey takes about twenty minutes with stops at small stations.
Once at the top we had to walk up heaps of stairs till finally we were standing
Walking up to Cristo Redentor
beneath Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). Although it is 38m tall and is constructed of 1145 tonnes of concrete it isn’t quite as large as you think. Shelley applied the logic that it is a little like celebrities and that in real life they are never as big as they appear on TV. We had spotted the statue sitting on the mountain as we came into town on the bus and it looked tiny. We just kept looking at and thinking “is that it”. The crowd around the base of the statue was bigger than the statue itself and everyone was jostling and pushing trying to get their very own photo with the concrete Christ. The favourite was for someone to lay on the ground and photograph another who would lean over them with their arms outstretched in the classic Jesus Christ pose. An easy feat in the privacy of your home but on the crowded platform it just was ridiculous. Personally I think the statue is in fact a monument to all the world’s fishermen with Christ just proclaiming “honest it was this big”.
The view from the top of the mountain is great although Rio’s pollution (like
Cristo Redentor - the fish was this big
all large cities) does leave its mark. We battled through the crowds and the imitation Christs for about 30 minutes before it all got too much for Scott and we beat a hasty retreat back to the cog train.
Luckily we didn’t need to wait too long to get back down and we were soon on the bus back to Lago do Machado station. We then got the Metro two stops to Botafago Station where we decided to walk onto our next site, which was the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do as it was 36 degrees and we had to wander down some slightly dodgy areas but we couldn’t see that any buses headed that way and it was only about 2 kilometres. We knew we were on the right track as the closer we got the more tourists we spotted. Sugarloaf Mountain is that huge lump of granite that is the second most recognised symbol of Rio after Christ the fisherman, and to get to the top you need to get a two staged chairlift. The cost for this little excursion was 54 Reals ($30) each making
View of Sugarloaf and Copacabana from Cristo Redentor
today an expensive exercise. Once again we had to line up for tickets and then line up to get onto the first cable car, which is huge and I think probably holds about 40 people. Because the cable car is so large it isn’t scary or a worry and just feels like you are in a train. The first Cable car got us up to the 220 metre high mark on Morro da Urca, where there are restaurants and a small cinema and of course great views. We went around to the other side of the mountain and got the second cable car up to the top of the 396m high sugarloaf.
Because Sugarloaf is on the edge of Rio’s harbour, the views are sensational and we felt were a lot better than from “Christ”. There was less of a crowd here and the area a lot bigger so it was easy to move around and spend time just enjoying the view. After spending an hour on the mount we took the cable car back down to the 220 metre mount and stopped to have a beer at a bar. Whilst there they had the television on which was
The view of Cristo Redentor from Botafogo
televising the results from the weekends Sambadrome parade. There was 14 schools competing this year and probably about 40 judges and the show went through each judge’s score for each school with a booming voice reading out each score and total. Yes it was fairly boring television but everyone was glued to it, and in the end so were we. We were hoping that the school we liked the best Isa Isabel would win but as it went along it looked less and less likely and so we decided to head home. And if you must know the samba school Tijuca won, which we didn’t see as they paraded on Monday. By the time we got the Cable Car back down to ground a large storm was rolling in and we got to see some spectacular lightening.
Once on the ground we were going to get a taxi home, but the taxi’s all looked a bit dodgy and so we started walking home when Shelley spotted a bus with “Copacabana” on the front, so we were able to get a bus instead. It had been a great day of seeing Rio’s premier sites and was glad we could keep
View of Cristo Redentor from Sugarloaf
some of the costs down by getting around ourselves. When we had first arrived in Rio, a guy at reception in our hotel had tried to talk us into doing a tour out to these sites for 480 Reals so we had saved ourselves some money as well as getting a little bit more experience in town. For dinner tonight we went pizza, which was kind of funny because the first two pizzas we asked for they didn’t have. The first was a Salami pizza and the second was pepperoni, and each time the waiter had to come out and tell us they didn’t have any….a pizza without peperoni, just doesn’t seem right, but a pizza restaurant without pepperoni, well that’s plain crazy.
Day 135 Thursday 23rd
Yesterday as we travelled around, I (Scott) could feel a head cold coming on and by this morning it was well entrenched. Woke up feeling crook but wasn’t going to let it hold us back so after breakfast we grabbed our stuff and headed out the door. Once again we took the Metro line downtown getting off at the Cinelandia station for a final walk around
Cable car up to Sugarloaf
Centro Rio. We wandered up and down the shopping streets of Rio, but didn’t see anything to spend our money on and after an hour we stopped at Confeitaria Colombo for a coffee. This restaurant is a grand old place smothered in mirrors and marble and has great character, but unfortunately lousy coffee. We ordered a “Colombo Cappuccino” and got a sickly sweet coffee with a mountain of awful whipped cream on top. It was also expensive but like I said the place had character and so it was a good experience.
We wandered around some more and ended up down near the towns old port area. This is an area filled with old buildings that are mostly been converted into bars and restaurants, but the whole place is very run down and sort of reminded us of what the Rocks were like back in the 1970’s. A huge overhead freeway runs right through the guts of the area and so it is a bit deafening at times with the traffic rumbling past. Part of the cities big plans before the Olympics hit here in 2016 is to tear down this freeway and build a light rail in its
View of Rio Centro
place with parklands. Along with the restoration of the old port buildings this whole area will be rejuvenated and you could see how much good that would bring to the town. Rio does have a lot of old buildings and churches but the bulk of them are in a poor state and you can see that they have a huge job ahead of them to clean the place up.
We walked around for another hour or two checking out some of the old churches and window shopping before my head cold got the better of me and we decided to head home. Jumped on the nearest metro and we were back home in a flash. Late in the afternoon we wandered down to the beach again and got a table at our favourite beach hut where we both indulged on way too many Caipirinhas. They are such a great cocktail and have lime, crushed ice and the local high-proof sugarcane alcohol called Cachaca. The drink kind of reminds me of a Pisco sour, which kind of reminds me a lemon squash with a huge kick of booze. It was so good to be sitting back on the beach promenade
Fort in Rio harbour
watching the sunset over Rio and just enjoying the vibe. Got a burger for dinner at one of the restaurants further down the main drag and afterwards returned to the beach hut for a couple more Caipirinhas. I think the lime in the cocktails wad helping with my head cold so I thought it wise to have a few more before going to bed. Had read and been told not to go anywhere near the beaches after dark but thankfully it would appear that maybe crime in Rio is slowly getting under control and it seemed safe….but I wouldn’t want to push our luck too far. Unsure what time we got back home, which is always a good indicator that you have had a great night
Day 136 Friday 24th
Last night was great for my head cold as I now couldn’t feel it over my hangover. Unfortunately as my hangover eased my nose started running again and I discovered that maybe the lime in the Caipirinhas weren’t really helpful.
After our last breakfast in Rio we decided to try and sort out some last minute chores, starting with getting our laundry
The helicopter rides from Sugarloaf
done. Went back to the laundry we had used before and once again had to sit for an hour while it washed and dried but at least it was done for our packing tonight. We then walked about a kilometre down through Copacabana to the post office so we could mail a present back to Miette. There was some rather odd people waiting in the post office with us and we were kind of glad to get served and to get out of there. The lady who served us was lovely and helpful and it gave us some hope that the small (and expensive) package will make it. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a chemist where Shelley did an award winning pantomime to get me some night and day tablets for my cold. It is so weird how they sell those things along with headache tablets as loose foils and not in a box, but it is cheap so I won’t complain too loudly.
Despite having been here for 10 days, and only a block from the beach we hadn’t as yet made it to the water, and so today being our last full
Looking down from the top of Sugarloaf
day here we decided to rectify the oversight. We jumped into our bathers and walked down and then across the sand to the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. We had sort of guessed that the water would be cold as you don’t tend to see a lot of people swimming here and also The Atlantic isn’t renowned for its warmth. The water wasn’t quite as cold as we expected but was still cold enough to keep us from diving around in it for hours.
When we made it back to the hotel I was able to use the office computer to print off the details of our new flights. We had an early dinner and then went back and did our packing as we need to get up at 4.00am to get to the airport for an early morning flight.
We have been surprised how much we have enjoyed Rio, before arriving here we thought the city might have been pretentious and unfriendly. The people in general have been friendly and helpful, like all large cities they can be a little stand offish at first but after a while they warm up. The city is pretty especially
near the coastal area and the old buildings like the theatre.
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