Marc has less than two days left in Rio, which gives him just about enough time to see the two main sights: the Christ the Redeemer statue, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Today we decided on going to see Christ, since the Germans I met the other day were going, and we thought we may as well join them. We all decided to get a bus to the base of the mountain but unfortunately the bus we wanted never turned up. We therefore decided to get a cab, which only worked out marginally more than five cab fares anyway. The driver agreed to break the law and take four in the back, as long as we gave him the equivalent of £1 extra between us – no one was complaining!
Once we arrived at the base of the mountain we had to decide whether to get the train or a taxi to the top. It turns out that the train is a bit of a tourist trap, and costs around £15 each, while missing out some key viewing platforms on the way to the summit. However, for just £8 each, a taxi driver was willing to take us to all the viewing points, and to the top, and then all the way back to the hostel. It didn’t take us too long to make the decision, and we were soon driving up the mountain.
The first stop on the way up was a point with two viewing platforms: one looking out towards the ocean and one looking inland toward the Christ statue. We went to look out towards the ocean first, and from the platform we got our first great views of the city itself. The landscape was incredible to look at, with dozens of small islands and mountains as far as the eye can see, and the sprawling city wrapped around – it was easy to see why they have run out of space to build in the area. The second viewing platform doubled up as a helipad for aerial tours around the city, and we got good views of Christ on the nearby mountain. At one point we were taking some pictures of Marc’s bottle of Nando’s sauce in front of the statue, and a guard came over to us telling us to stop. We inquired as to why we should stop, and he said we could be fined up to £10,000 for taking propaganda photos! It took some convincing to explain we weren’t shooting propaganda, but he still took Marc’s name just in case.
Feeling slightly lucky to have not been arrested, we got back in the waiting taxi and he drove us to the base of the statue’s summit. Taxis aren’t allowed right to the top, so we had to catch a shuttle bus to take us up to the statue. After a final set of stairs, we were finally looking up at Christ himself (well, at least Rio’s take on him). The statue was of course an impressive sight, and it was combined with great views over the city. However, it was quite difficult to get a good picture of us in front of it, since there were so many people posing with their arms out imitating the statue’s pose.
Before heading back down we stopped by the chapel in the statue’s base, and read a bit about why it was originally erected. The statue was built primarily using donations from Brazilian Catholics, and took from 1922-1931 to erect. Nowadays it is still the largest art-deco statue in the world, and the 5th largest statue of Jesus. It was a great experience to visit given how iconic the statue has become, and something I will definitely be remembering for a long time.
After returning to the taxi, we opted to have the driver drop us at Ipanema beach for sunset, rather than going straight back to the hostel. At the beach there was a large mound right on the oceanfront and we climbed it for some great views of the sun going down over the nearby mountains. We then decided to stop at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian restaurant on the way back to the hostel. The format was a buffet of assorted salads and basic dishes, with a large variety of different meats brought round on skewers once you sit down. We were all very impressed, and none of us felt like moving once we were done.
In the evening we relaxed at the hostel before heading out to a part of town called Lapa to celebrate Marc’s last night. Tomorrow he will be on a plane up to New York!
Photos of the day: Christ the Redeemer, our first view out over Rio, and the sun setting over the mountains at Ipanema