When I set out at 7 am this morning to join the tour “A Day Out in Rio”, I had no idea that I would only arrive back over 12 hours later!! The temperature early this morning was 35C and stepping off the bus this evening, I noticed it was still 31C. Is that why I feel rather drained, or is it simply the awesome spectacle that is Rio de Janeiro had left me weak at the knees?
The first stop was the Cathedral… and after all, this is a good Catholic country. It is an unusual building with some significant stained glass but I felt it was somewhat lacking in soul. I, for one, did not complain that the stop was just 15 minutes. And I have to say that we went from the manufactured appeal to our Christian ethic onto a blatant encouragement to come and feast the senses at the Rio Carnival in March. We did a drive by the route for the Samba Parade and everywhere advertises this (because sex sells), along with invitations to the World Cup and the next Olympics. But here is the challenge for Brazil (and Rio in particular)… nothing is ready, nothing looks as though it will be ready any time soon and the Brazilians themselves reckon they may lose at least the World Cup matches in Rio. I can’t believe how they can get there in time having seen what has been done/what is still to do.
Then it was off to the serious stuff. A trip in two cable cars up Sugar Loaf Mountain for some of the most spectacular views of Rio (at least that is what I thought at the time). From the top, Corcovado Mountain (with the statue of Christ the Redeemer) is right there in your line of sight before you do a sweep to take in the islands, the clear blue sea, the fabulous beaches and the city that houses 6 million people. It is all laid out at your feet and, at each turn, there is something new to look at. But it’s a long process to get to the top, to see, to explore and to take hundreds of photographs.
This afternoon’s big event was a visit to Jesus! At least it was to the top of Corcovado (hunchback) Mountain to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This time it was via a train up the incredibly steep, almost vertical, track. The track is cut through the dense undergrowth of the Tijuca Forest but looking at the widely varied foliage at least took your mind off wondering whether the train would actually make it! We then faced an exceptionally steep upward stagger to the lifts which decanted us to stare upwards at the rear view of Jesus. To meet him face-to-face, so to speak, there were a couple of elevators and some more steps in order to look down and see what he sees day after day. That’s when the view from Sugar Loaf Mountain got relegated to second place in the vista stakes! Incredibly, it was difficult to move at all on the very top of this mountain. Apparently everyone wanted a photograph with Jesus and it seemed the best place to achieve this was from lying on the floor. Therefore, it took some considerable agility to step over, step around and between the legs of these bodies on the ground. I was happy to see the statue’s fingers had been repaired after one was sheared off during an electric storm. You couldn’t see the join (!), nor could you see evidence of repairs to the face. In fact, Jesus was in great shape and my lasting ambition to see this fabulous statue was finally achieved. It was even better than I imagined and hard to tear myself away in the setting sun.
So that was Rio. Tomorrow my suitcases will be collected at 7 am and later in the morning I will be taken to join the ship to begin another epic cruise. Much as I dislike the packing/unpacking process, it will be good to hang up the frocks, establish my base for a week or two and share a few more adventures along the way. Watch out Queen Victoria!!