Tips & Thoughts From Rio

After a rather unsuccessful, but never the less enjoyable first day we where determined to do better. Our determination paid off and we managed to avoid getting lost and saw some of Rio De Janeiro’s most famous sites. Yes!

To start the day we needed to go back to the bus station and book our ticket to Sao Paulo. This time we managed to avoid the favelas and got to the station in half the time, meaning we could soon get on with the real site seeing that we intended to do.

Getting Around In Rio

First a couple of tips about getting around in Rio. If you want speed and convenience go for the tube. A single (Unitario) costs 2.80 Brazilian Real compared to the 2.70 (on average) of a single bus ticket. The tube will get you to your destination in half the time a bus would take, and it is also much easier to be certain you are getting off at the correct stop. Despite this, I still preferred buses. Ok, so they take a bit longer and it can be a bit tricky knowing when to get off, but you get to see the city at the same time and from the relative safety off the bus. We got a bus from Botofago to Copabocana which probably took about half an hour and seemed to take a fairly round about route, but it was really enjoyable. The bus travelled through parts of Rio that we probably wouldn’t have felt safe walking through and is immensely better than staring into the dark abyss while on the subway.

Copacabana

One of the many bars on the beach

One of the many bars on the beach

Copacabana seems like a very nice area, and is much more like a European city than other parts of Rio. The tree lined streets are bustling and there is a lot of traffic but the general atmosphere seems very good. We didn’t have time to look around the shops but I’m sure if we did it would have been interesting. Of course the dominating feature of Copacabana is the beach! Its surreal, one minute you are engulfed in excitable metropolitan life, the next, and a few blocks down, you are faced with masses of blinding white sand. The only other place I can imagine it is comparable to is Barcelona, although I could be wrong, I’ve never been there!

After reaching the beach we were very hot and needed to cool down. This was the perfect excuse to plant ourselves at one of the many small bars scattered along the beach and sample Brazil’s national cocktail Caipirinha. At 5.00 Real we couldn’t really complain and we were looking forward to something refreshing. It was STRONG! Much stronger than we were expecting. From what we could work out it is a mixture of Vodka, Lime, Sugar and some other bits and pieces to fill it out. It is not the kind of drink you can gulp but it still provided at least some respite from the scorching temperatures.

Christ The Redeemer

220 steps up, Jesus Christ!

On a quick trip back to the hostel to ask about how we would get to Rio’s number one landmark Christ The Redeemer, by chance we made friends with a nice Chilean guy called Ignasio who also wanted take the trip up Covacado mountain. Without him we would have definitely got lost but he spoke very good Portuguese so was able to ask directions.

The most popular way to get up the mountain is by “Cog” train. We had intended to do this but as we stepped off the bus we were approached by a tour guide from Corcovado Car Service who offered to take us up an alternative route for 44.00 Real.

This was worth every penny. Our driver, Elza spoke very good English so was able to point out places of interest along the way such as the Favela where Micheal Jackson filmed one of his music videos. The route we where taken took us 9km though Ticuja rain forest. I can imagine that the train would probably provide a better experience of the forest as we had to stick to the paved roads so it was never that dense, but even still it was a pleasant drive.

The price included two stops, one at the helipad about half way up Corcovado mountain, and the next of course at the top. The stop off at the helipad is well worthwhile and provide a great opportunity to take photos of the stunning views.  A short walk back past the car park and through a small portion of forest gives you an alternative yet equally stunning view.

One View From The Heli Pad

Next the steep drive up to the top!  If you look at the mountain from the base it seems as though it would be impossible for a car to scale it, but a long and windy road cut into the cliff side takes you to the top.  Once there, you can choose between taking a  lift or 220 steps to the summit. We choose the steps as they provided more photo opportunities.

Then you have the statue! It is as impressive from close up as it is from afar. One thing that made us laugh were the number of people taking the exact same photo. Stand at the top of the steps, hold your arms out to mimic the statue, and look really silly for a couple of minutes while your friend struggles to get a good angle from the bottom of the steps. I dread to think how many photos like this have been taken!

I was also surprised to learn that the statue itself is the home to a small church! The doors of the church are plastered in no photo signs, but as Ignasio was looking in one of the security guards said to him in Portuguese “Take the photo I don’t care”!

Finally you have the views! From about 700m up the views of Rio and many of the surrounding areas are spectacular. We were lucky enough to have a crystal clear day and had fun trying to spot were we where staying. We were also struck by the size of one of Rio’s cemeteries. I have never seen such a big cemetery any where before, and this thing literally coved 4 or more whole blocks.

A Good Day

We didn’t get lost, we made a Chilean friend, we found a great tour guide and saw Rio’s number one landmark. Quite an improvement over the previous day! The Corcovao Car Service was a good alternative to the Cog train, providing us with an extra stop and the knowledge of Elza. I think it worked out quite a bit cheaper too! All in all a good day.

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  • Jacqui

    Wow, it sounds like you had a full day & embraced the culture & the people. Always good not to do the same as everyone else & find new ways to explore the sights. So glad you are making friends with fellow travellers on your way, this is exactly what I hoped would happen for you all.
    Look forward to the next instalment. This blog means you don’t feel so far away. Lots of Love mum xxxx

    • Yeah it was a really great day! We have met a load of other people since! Getting a lot of tips about the onward journey. May be able to skype you at some point! XxxX

      • Jacqui

        Skype would be brilliant, let us know when, we leave for skiing Friday early am xxxx

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  • Steve

    Fantastic photo from the heli pad. Waldek says statue of Jesus was made by a Polish man. There is now an even bigger one in Poland. I hope your journey to Sao Paulo went well. Let us know if you need any help. Dad

    • Ah wow thats really interesting! There are plenty more photos where those came form as well. Will be uploading to flickr soon XxxX

  • Jozef, again Happy birthday. This is a very insightful post about Rio and i’m glad you didn<#t get lost. I had to giggle about your comparison between Copacabana and Barcelona. As I have not been to Rio yet, I can't comment but when I go I will bear this in mind.

    • Thanks Inka! Haha I am probably completely wrong about it being similar to Barcelona seeing as I have never been there! haha Let us know when you go! Its a great place!

  • Lucy

    Hiya just back from G’ma’s so able to catch up with your next adventure’s, (she sends her love! x). Sounds like you’re getting a bit more organised with your day’s sightseeing and what a fabulous day! How did the trip and view from Christ The Redeemer compare to Table Mountain?? 2 amazing land marks in 6 weeks or so, lucky boy. I echo what Jacqui say’s you don’t seem so far away and it’s as if we are sharing your travel’s at the same time xox

  • great adventure! travels get more meaningful when you get to make friends and see what the places are really famous for. ive never been to rio and it would probably take time for me to get there. but i know i will do exactly what you did and experience it with the new eye! 😀

    • Thanks Monette! It has been a great adventure so far! We are in Sao Paulo now and have met a load more people and you’r right its really great. Try and get to Rio if you can at some point its a great place!

  • One of many places on my must see list before I do. Fantastic article.

    • Thanks Natalie! Glad you liked the post, hopefully it will be useful to you when you get the chance to go!

  • What a fantastic day!
    Would you believe there’s a smaller version of Christ the Redeemer in Vietnam, also with a small church inside? It’s in the oil boom town of Vung Tau.

    • It was a fantastic day! Thats really interesting to know, my Dad told me that there is also supposed to be a larger version in Poland!

  • Ed

    it was great of you to have met a fellow traveller which was also helpful in your trek to the Covacado mountain. hope to do that someday — travel solo and meet interesting and cool people. first time here! got to your site through Fliptravel’s site.

    • Yeah we have met a load of interesting a friendly people already! Its really great because everyone shares their knowledge. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Good job on not getting lost this time!!

    • Haha yeah, as fun as getting lost is, its a bit impractical!

  • It sounds that you and the others with you have enjoyed a lot during the trip……Your this trip reminds me the trip i have enjoyed with my friends in Rio 2 years back…We too have a pic in-front of the Jesus Christ….I will surely share those pic with you too….

    villa calonge