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Tuesday 19 Jan 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

All must kneel before Christ the Destroyer!

(at least I'm pretty sure that's what Cristo Redentor translates to... but the statue does tower above you like an Ozymandias-esque overlord!)

After partaking of the staple breakfast (in Brazil every hotel, and most hostels provide a buffet which includes huge amounts of fruit such as banana, papaya and watermelon plus the usual bread and yoghurts etc. You never miss out on getting your vitamin fix here!) I ventured forth with my expensive SLR camera and a rough set of instructions in broken Spanish on how to get to Corcovado with the bus. Corcovado, of course, being the mountain where Christ the Redeemer is situated.

My flight to Salvador was going to be leaving this evening at 9pm, so I found the hotel would let me purchase a half-day room rental so I could store my stuff and then have a shower when I get back from touring. Nice!

I got to one of the bus stops and a kind gent pointed out which bus I should get for Corcovado, the 180. I didn't have to wait long (rather like the amount of cars in Brazil, there's no shortage of buses and taxis either!) and once you board you pay a bloke who sits at a turn-stile. BR$ 2.20 (about 1 euro) is all it cost to go!

In Brazillian cities, there is usually always a dedicated person who handles the money whether you are paying for a ticket, or buying a hamburger. This is a little confusing at first, but makes sense in some ways as, in the case of the bus, the driver can proceed while you wrangle with the money issues with the other guy. In the fast-food joints, you first buy a ticket from the cashier in one corner, then approach the counter to ask for the item. The cook will only then cook what has been paid for, and doesn't run the risk of making something, and then you scarper off! Smile

On the bus to Corcovado I met a couple of Chilean backpackers. They spoke perfect English (I think this is a fairly common thing in Chile) and I got chatting to them about languages in Brazil. They told me that they too are completely blown away by how different Portuguese is to Spanish, and they were having a fairly tough time trying to communicate. Yay, so it's not just me! ... One thing I like about Portuguese is that "Oi!" is one way of saying "Hello" here. So we Irish plus Aussies, Brits, etc have little trouble! ... so anyway the bus was perfectly fine, and I would recommend it as a way of getting around Rio (possibly not late at night though...)

Cristo Rendentor (which was recently voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) sits atop a mountain that was initially selected by Brazil's first Emperor Dom Pedro as the best place from which to survey the entire Rio coastline and interior. And indeed the mountain is huge AND steep. There are various ways of getting to the top: taxi, tram or walking (if you are particularly insane.. and want to get knocked down). Taxi drivers line the entrance way trying to tout you to go up with them, but the cost would be fairly considerable, not to mention that cars can only get up to a certain point, after which you need to walk a fair distance anyway! So as time was of the essence I elected to go for the tram!

Tram up Corcovado...
Tram up Corcovado...

Due to the crowds (of mainly Argentinians and Chileans, plus some Brits/Yanks!), there was a rather extensive queue of people waiting to get on the tram, so my ticket scheduled me to depart around an hour later! There wasn't much refuge in the area from the sweltering heat as the lobby was packed solid, so I opted for the church across the road! It was empty, sombre, but nice and cool and welcoming... in the bliss I felt... almost.. born aga... oh right the hour's up, back to the tram.

We rode up on the steep gradient through the lush rainforest full of Acai trees. I had an impending fear that the tram's breaks were going to fail, thus sending us into a mad downward spiral so I was already planning an escape route Wink I got a particularly nice seat on the left side of the tram which gave me excellent views of the Rio landscape as we climbed higher and higher. The other side just had dense jungle, so a crush of people would often lean over on your side to get the view, thus causing the tram to wobble a bit!

Tired Pete looking out...
Tired Pete looking out...

Eventually we reached the last station, from here we would walk the staircase to the top. We got our first glimpse of the view that was to come, and from here you could easily see the famous Maracana stadium.

Crowds at Cristo Redentor
Crowds at Cristo Redentor

And onward up to Cristo...

On arrival at the top of the staircase, you're greeted with a sight that has intrigued travellers for generations: 30 or 40 people all standing in a Christ pose, while their counterparts lie on the floor in front of them taking their photo with the statue as a backdrop! I guess this is the "Hold the Leaning Tower" pose for Brazil!!.. sheesh ppl at least try to be original Yell

Have Cristo hold a cigar, or pretending he has his arm around your shoulder!

Cristo Redentor
Cristo Redentor

So anyway.. yes.. the statue!

It is quite an imposing sight indeed! Aftering seeing the image for so many years on TV and in films it finally hits you that you "have arrived" in Rio and there was much self-pinching and blinking to be had.

The base is made of marble, in which there is a chapel and, apart from the hoardes of tourists, there were quite a few people around the base praying. It's often forgotten that, despite it's fame as a landmark, Cristo Redentor is very much still a Christian shrine.

The view that the statue has, though, is part of the experience of being up here. We were greeted with the most spectacular view of downtown Rio and the surrounding mountainous landscape for miles around! It was slightly hazy (so was my brain as I was still rather tired!) but I think the photos capture the essence perfectly... You could see all the major landmarks up here from Ipanema beach, to Copacabana to Sugar Loaf... 360 degrees.

I stayed up here admiring the view for about an hour, and then we had the inevitable queue to take the tram back down...

more in next entry...

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South America Twenty Ten

Travel blog by peterforan



After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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Currently in:

Dublin, Ireland

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Photo Album

  • Office on the...

    Rio de Janeiro


    Office on the road!
  • Fast food,...

    Rio de Janeiro


    Fast food, Brazillian style
  • Tired Pete...

    Rio de Janeiro


    Tired Pete looking out over Rio
  • Cristo from...

    Rio de Janeiro


    Cristo from the back