Brazil : Rio de Janeiro. Notes from the other side of equator and Christ the Redeemer

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Travelling to Rio de Janeiro has been one of the most exciting journeys I’ve made so far. For a list (something which I love to make) of reasons –

a) crossing the equator for the first time (hopefully not the last time)

b) being the longest non stop flight travel (hopefully not again)

I know, I know, my a) & b) are a kind of oxymoronic, it’s like wanting to live long but not get old! But still.

c) travelling to a new continent – South America

d) to standing in line next to Boris Becker at immigrations (oh yeah!! Although, it was Adi who pointed that out to me, I simply thought he was a very-tall-blond-tourist-wearing-sunglasses-inside. Phew!)

 

From the strangely, exotically satisfying sound of it’s name to the idea of the place that I came bearing in mind, after watching ‘City of God’, it has been beyond exciting!

 

The key words that I boxed up in my head were a city of violent warlords and dangerous drug lords, gorgeous bronze bodies and beautiful sprawling beaches, surfers and shanty towns and yes, Christ the Redeemer!Other key words include : Samba, carnival, bikini bodies and beach bums and football and lots of it.

 

A lot like a bollywood masala movie that has all the elements and to their extreme.

 

 

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You know you are in a tropical country when a bowl of fruits greet you first thing after heat & humidity.

 

 

Between exiting airport and reaching hotel through a rebellious traffic, passing many ongoing construction sites and algae covered building of this tropical city, I kept fighting flashbacks of a city I graduated from. Even the rain pattern was similar. And I thought, guess, I’m back and sooner than planned! I didn’t find anything exotic about it. 🙁  An upgrade to presidential suite wasn’t much of a consolation either.

 

But I was being too quick to judge.

 

 

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View from our suite balcony on a beautiful morning.

 

Travelling from Geneva to Rio, was a huge change. Not so much in timezone as in temperature (30 degrees). It took us some time to adapt and warm up to the city or rather in this case, cool down to it.

 

 

 

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Or else you can kiss it better! ;)

 

 

 

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Rio is a biiig, huge city unique with one of the largest urban tropical forests in it. With so much to do & see, it’s really hard being a tourist in Rio.

 

 

And so without wasting any time, we lined up the usual suspects first and began striking off one after another.



#1 : Christo Redentor/Christ The Redeemer

 

 

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Standing open arms on Corcovado Hill, Christo Redentor looks over this vast city and you can look ‘upto’ him from almost all places in the city.

 

 

If you’ve done your homework well, you’ll know it is the first thing you should visit in Rio.

 

 

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Standing tall, Christo Redentor sees all from Santa Teresa favelas to posh neighbourhoods of Leblon & Ipanema, bears the brunt of camera flashes, graffiti, scratchitti & lightning strikes and some head in cloud moments too :)

 

 

 

 

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However, there is no easy way to reach Christ.

 

 

A combination of taxi ride/metro ride + train ride + elevators/escalators/stairs take you to the top. And the total travelling time could take about 2-3 hours!!

 

 

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Don’t go by the smile, it is now, more of a reflexive action to the shutter sound.

 

 

I read a witty line about it that goes ‘This Jesus means business!’ I’ll add on to it, since Christ the Redeemer became one of the new world wonders of the world in 2007, business has been really really good!

 

 

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You see what I mean?

 

 

 

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The 130 mt tall statue stands over a smallish densely populated platform on the Corcovado Mountain.
The smallish size of the platform and the height and might of the statue makes it almost impossible to capture it properly, let alone capture yourself with it.

 

 

I wish I could suggest a better time of the day to visit it but I guess there isn’t any. Except maybe when sun isn’t overhead.

Late evenings should be a good time but they are even a better time to be at the other most popular attraction in Rio (you’ve to keep scrolling down for that). I was thinking sunrise but the first train that takes you here is at 8:20am.

 

 

 

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Definitely a cloudless noon sky with sun beating down on you is not the best time.

 

A partly cloudy sky should give you good cover from sun and would add a lot of colour & character to your images. But avoid it on a very cloudy/rainy day or if you see a thunderstorm rolling as lightening strikes on statue are common.

 

 

 

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All other times, prepare to squeeze yourself in this crowd!

 

 

 

 

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We did manage to get a photo by asking a tourist to take one for us!

 

 

 

 

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Otherwise, scrape through with selfies

 

 

 

 

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Although it’s a very impressive sight, especially if you look at it from a distance, I wonder why it is a wonder of the world?

 

 

Adi’s comment on it, ”You’ve already put 9 pictures of this structure and you’re wondering why it is a wonder”!

May be he is right. It’s just a statue but it is an extra-ordinary sight.

 

 

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While the statue itself is a rewarding sight, you can capture the wonderful views of city on a clear day.

 

 

 

 

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The beaches, small islands. Getting close to my ‘exotic’ idea.

 

 

How to reach Christo Redentor?

You have to, probably, take all modes of land transport to get there.

From Copacabana or Ipanema area you can either take a subway or hire a taxi.

The taxis drop you at a base parking area on the Corcovado Mountain from where you have to queue up (for about an hour or so) to either take a shuttle bus or a train or funicular – The Corcovado Railway that takes you up to the base of the statue via lush tropical forests.

Remember, there are no cars private/taxis allowed beyond this point.

I even saw people hiking and biking their way up. Do it if you have the muscle and grit.

From the base of  the statue you either take some 200 steps or queue up for elevator/escalators.

Keep aside 4-6 hrs for the whole trip depending on the crowds.


How did we go?

We hired a car from the hotel where we stayed and although it was a bit expensive than the above mentioned way, he showed us around some really good vantage points to capture the Christo and the city.

 

The pictures that we took on our way back,

 

 

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At a gorgeous and generously shadowy bamboo forest on the way.

 

 

 

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He took us to a helipad area where there was practically no crowd but amazing views and refreshing breeze.

 

 

 

 

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He even insisted we take a picture with the ‘Christo’ pose!

 

 

Have you ever tried taking pictures with such typical poses of certain places like pushing the leaning tower of Pisa or kissing the Sphinx?

Well, that’s one more thing (among many many others) that I haven’t figured out how to do. I mean it’s so awkward. There usually are other people waiting up for their turn, looking at you and probably thinking ‘go on, get it over with, you’re not doing justice to it anyways!’ And when the photographer tells me a ‘bit to left, a bit to right and a bit more, now bend down’, I’m already losing my smile and patience.

 

 

 

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Like this hugely awkward one!
But our driver/guide was pretty insistent on taking this picture for us.

 

 

 

 

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More bamboo forest!

 

 

 

 

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And more ‘Christo’ pose.
This is the helipad where the Corcovado Helicopter tours take off.
Or does a helicopter lift off?

 

 

 

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The city scape behind me.
What I’m pointing to is the Sugar Loaf mountain where we were headed next.
I don’t know why I decided to sit through this photo!

 



Tips & Info Nuggets

We travelled to Rio in February (which is peak time) 2013, you can find more info regarding reaching Corcovado & Christo Redentor here.

A trusted taxi is the safest, easiest and quickest way to get to Corcovado Hill.

Carry water, sun protections (sunblock lotion, scarf, hats, sunnies).

Be sure to be in comfortable walking shoes and you’ll be golden.

 

Sugar Loaf Mountain up next! See you soon.

Comments

  1. Hi Nikita, reading your blog is always very refreshing and interesting. It is very lively.Christ the Redeemer—Beautifully captured,explained with very useful tips for travellers. looking great in all the pics.Well done keep it up.