Wednesday 5th, big tour day

Despite feeling grim went to the gym – the bike saddle’s  gone, good job my bleary eyes noticed that before disaster struck. Breakfasted – surprised that the minibus turned up on time with very knowledgeable guide who slipped effortlessly between English, Spanish, German, French and of course Portuguese. Picked up other passengers, middle-aged couple from California, he’s Danish and she’s Argentinian – very sophisticated! Then a British couple and an Indian man who had given a paper with Mike yesterday, assorted Mexicans and Germans.

We set off through the Tijuca forest up the mountain to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, hereafter known as CtheR or I’ll never get to the end … As we rose through the rainforest the mist and cloud descended and we could only see the base of the statue. This after having to leave our minibus and travel in an official one to the elevators – why? no one could tell us, apart from it’s the rules. You really know you’re in a rain forest – the tree roots are enormoustree roots, should have got someone to stand next to this but this section is taller than me and I’m 8′ 2″ (joke).

To get to the statue we had to go up escalators – seemed too easy, felt we should be going up backwards on our knees over broken glass. We mooched around in the clouds and took pointless photos of a headless, armless statue at the request of Mike’s mum, because when he rang her and said we couldn’t see Christ, she still wanted a photograph. (vicarious oneupmanship for friend Joan at the Lunch club)

cloudy statueCleared enough to get this shot and to listen to the Brit couple whinging that the same thing had happened to them when they went to the Grand Canyon, so I suggested they might like to choose a foggy theme for future holidays and then they wouldn’t be disappointed. Went down well I thought.

We stood in front of this sign to prove to Mike’s mum we wuz ‘ere

proof we were there

The tourist tat shop was just that, got a miniature CtheR set in Amethyst for the famous altar. Then we went for a cup of tea and the only exciting incident of the day so far happened. A woman found a large hairy caterpillar on her skirt – aarrgghhh! Huge fuss ensued until it was knocked off and into the path of countless Havianas, but survived long enough for photo-opportunity starved pilgrims to ensure it’s immortality.caterpiller

We had just got over the Great Caterpillar Incident when a collective shout went up followed by a charge to the escalators – the clouds were clearing … by the time I got there they were descending again, and an audible sigh went up from the masses  so I too descended to finish my tea. But you can’t underestimate the power of Catholic prayer and as my bum hit the seat, the same thing happened so I led the stampede this time and got this –


The photo I should have taken was of all the mad tourists lying on the floor taking photos of their mates in the pose upwards against the statue, like beetles on their backs. Secretly I was glad not to see the height we were at, I’m not good with heights at the best of times, have the urge to chuck myself off.

Back on the coach and off to Sugar Loaf Mountain, (hereafter known as SLM). Much scarier – cable car to the smaller hill and then another one to SLM. It’s sooo high, not going to like this … Weather much warmer here, bought earrings for Suze’s birthday in the inevitable (but posher stuff than usual) tourist tat shop , hope she likes them.

from cable car

first hillCable car was terrifying, but very modern, too much glass. just pointed the camera without looking …

SLM is forested and stocked with monkeys and birds and probably lots more. we didn’t see any of it apart from the inevitable Vultures and Frigate birds in the distance. Mike did descend into the depths of the gloomy trees but I stayed firmly in the light. This was his view. The going up and coming down

rain forst on hillwere terrifying and as you can see I’m gritting teeth as I stand by the edge looking out over Copacabana beach

Me at top

back on the first hill and feeling relieved and almost complacent we are impressed with where we’ve been. God help me if I ever contemplate a proper mountain …

M on first hill

back to 1st hill

we had a slight delay on the way down

as the Indian guy had bought 4 wooden toucans but taken delivery of only 3 so we had to wait while the guide conducted not so delicate negotiations with the gift shop at the bottom.

Got to Copacabana for lunch @ 3pm and the guide left us to drop most of the others off at their hotels – they were only doing half a day. Maybe we should have done that not sure where the rest of the tour is taking us. We had lunch with the only other guest who was Mr Toucan – vegetarian and we were in a Rodizio grill restaurant.


‘Vegetarian? OK Sir, we have chicken, sausages and lamb instead’ The skewers kept coming and he was first on their list. The guide has asked the manager for special dishes but obviously hasn’t filtered down to the staff. Took a while but in the end he was brought chips, something that might have been parsnips, (none of us could tell), rice and 2 fried bananas. We didn’t get offered as much meat as in the other grill we’d been to, and we didn’t get offered the cut that the Portuguese woman told me to hold out for, Picanha, the most tender apparently.

After lunch, (guide late back) we did the Cathedral – very similar shape to Liverpool Catholic cathedral, bit bigger maybe,  beautiful stained glass windows

stained 1

the surprise was round the back to the altar – what looked like Cinderella’s coach


Turned out to be the Carriage used to parade the statue of St Sebastian around Rio on the saints day – easy mistake to make.

we went on to the Carnival route which if you thought about it at all, you might have thought it takes place all over Rio, but no, my friend, wrong. There is one street 860 meters long with seating all the way down and that’s where it happens. There may be smaller ones in the districts but this is where the biggie happens

carnival routemost of the samba schools are in the favellas and Rio has created a large hangar space for them to build the floats and costumes. All the samba schools compete over the days of the carnival. The government have put water and electricity into the favellas but no roads, cars, all 700  of them built an the side of hills. Government is also planning to give them paint in the favella colour so that they can paint the houses. Eventually the plan is to put some sort of transport system up the sides of the favellas to help the elderly and disabled to get in and out. The favellas were built when factories were starting up, the poor came from the outlying areas to work, had nowhere to live, so created their own. From a distance some of them look like substantial buildings but very close together with no privacy. All this information I offer free from the guide who was a mine of information and a clever guy to boot.

we came back via a large stadium complex with a statue of a footballer outside (Mike was very impressed)

stadium1stadium2Arrived back in the dark, knackered, no more eating today please!