Posted by: vivalatinamerica | October 5, 2010

Real Rio Part 2…

Having waited for the weather to clear we woke up to discover that it still wasn’t great – the frustration of weather has followed us over the Atlantic – at least I can now officially say it isn’t just the UK that can have unpredictable, bad, grotty weather. Taking a gamble we decided to head back to Copacabana to finish our walk that was interrupted by rain the day before. By the time we got there the sun was shining through the clouds and it was a pleasant 26C.

We walked along the pavement so we could admire the sandcastle creations that are dotted along the beach. Some are rather seedy and involve women sprawling on their fronts in skimpy bikinis, others I found far more skilled and involved an apparent combination of architectural skill as well as artistry. Obviously for photos you must pay but considering the talent and effort that must go into their design, creation and maintenance, it is worth a small donation.

After a few hours we decided it was now or never on visiting Jesus so we got on a bus we hoped was heading in the right direction. And when we saw other westerners getting on and sticking out their hands in Christ the Redeemer imitation we unfortunately knew we were on the right track and following the tourist trail. At least I can feel slightly superior that I could ask for Corcovado, which was the correct stop rather than resorting to silly mimicry. And to be honest, we are here to do touristy things so shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
We had been warned that there could be huge queues for tickets and a long wait for the train that takes you to the top of Corcovado. I think we had to wait for a staggering five people before we could buy the tickets – again I’m sure there was a certain amount of luck involved, added to the weather not being too great.

The train ticket and entrance at the top into Cristo Redentor came to R$36 (US$21). Be warned that there are bus tours outside the entrance that will offer you a much cheaper price – what they don’t tell you is that their price doesn’t include the entrance fee at the top so you will end up paying more. However, on a busy day they may save you queuing for a few hours.

At the top, I felt a little tingly. It is a great feeling to be standing under such a world famous and hugely recognised monument. For us, due to the cloudy day, the view over Rio wasn’t great but still good to see, but on a sunny, clear day it must be amazing. It is wonderful how silly people get when given a camera. In front of this great religious icon it would make sense for people to prostrate themselves on the ground. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, they were simply trying to get the best possible photos. He’s big – very big. Surprisingly even bigger than you imagine from photos. There is a wide walkway all the way around offering you a great panoramic vista of the surrounding city and coastline, which would have been great if we could see it clearly as it is everything was somewhat hazy.

On arriving back at the hostel we found that one of the guys that works there does a roaring trade in making caipirinhas and as they’re definitely cheaper than a glass of wine it would have been rude not to partake in this local delight (I may have found a new addiction).  This on top of cheap beers makes the hostel a dangerous place to be, but for all the right reasons. Gave us a great end to our stay in Rio.

Alice Bevan

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