After two day of sun the sun is finally shining. It is Thursday June 9 and we have booked a favela tour for today. You can read more about it in our previous blog. In short, a absolute must-do when you are in Rio de Janeiro. It will broaden your horizon and you will get a better understanding on how 22% of the Rio inhabitants are living. This are more then a million people!
The favela wasn’t the only place we visited that day. In the morning we visited the first iconic place of Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf mountain. We have seen it already a couple of times from afar. Now it is time to see the view from the top.
It is not a cheap visit and after two rides with a gondola we were on top of the Sugarloaf. The view is magnificent. On the left side you see Copacabana and the Atlantic Ocean. On the right side you see the Botafogo and Flamengo districts and you can look all the way to Centro. Of course Christ the Redeemer is towering high above it all. And if you look at your back over the bay of Guanabara you see the Niteroi and Icarai districts. All is surrounded by mountains. Really awesome as you can see for yourself below.
On Friday we moved to our second house on our trip. This time a little bit more luxury because we booked a room at Vilanossa B&B for the next three nights. And it immediately feels right. What a great feeling it is compared to the Nature hostel of the past few days. The B&B lies in the Santa Theresa district and it is right up our alley. The neighborhood is filled with small restaurants, shops and workshops. It is just great and absolutely worth visiting if you search for a romantic place in Rio. Vilanossa B&B is then your place to stay with her great rooms, friendly owners from Italy and a super breakfast.
Since a couple of months it is possible to take the old yellow tram again up to Santa Theresa from Carioca station. It was put out of service in 2011 after two deadly accidents. But luckily it is riding again because it is free. It runs from 10AM to 4PM, except on Sundays and holidays. The tram runs over the beautiful white aqua-duct in the Lapa district. The view from above is great. You will also pass the ugly Sao Sebastiao Cathedral. But because of this it also sticks out.
After we got installed in the B&B we walked down to Lapa. Philipe advised us to visit Ruins Park (Parque das Ruinas). It lies up in Santa Theresa in the Morro de Curvelo park. It is an old dilapidated villa where they placed big metal stairs inside. This assures new interesting views around every corner and on the top floor you have a nice view over the city.
As we walked on through the district, we did not noticed we walked into a bad neighborhood. We just did not know. At a certain point a car stopped with two women inside. When the driver explained this she asked us where we were going and if we wanted to join them down. We did not need to think of this twice. The Lapa district is not a real nice neighborhood. Around the touristy places it is safe and along the main street around the Aqua-duct. There is also a really great Graffiti workshop on this street.
The lady dropped us off close to the Lapa stairs (Escadarria Selaron). It was starting to glimmer and it was pretty crowdy. This means you need to do your best to get a picture alone with the stairs. They used thousands of tiles in this piece of art. And they come from over 120 different countries. When you look closely you will probably find a few from your country. We found quite a few from the Netherlands.
On Saturday we first went back to the Lapa Stairs. In our enthusiasm we totally forgot to take a polaroid of the stairs. And we were in luck. The stairs were almost empty and we had all the time in the world to shoot our pictures. Afterwards we wanted to go to a market place (Feira Nordestina) in Sao Cristovao. It should be a very colorful place but we will never know if this was the case. In the subway we talked to some people who pointed out that it is not such a good neighborhood. And from that point a little voice in my head said that it probably won’t be such a good idea to go. We did got out at the right metro station and had a look around but we decided not to do it anymore.
So what should we do instead? Just one stop further lies the biggest football stadium of Brazil, Maracana. Why not take a look over there. It is a big stadium but not really beautiful. All you see is concrete. It is now impossible to take a stadium tour due to the Olympic Games. There are fences everywhere and a short walk around the stadium is all we could do. There was nothing to see that would suggest that they are going to host an Olympic opening ceremony in August. You would think you should see something already?
The best day of the week we saved for last. Sunday was a great day. It was sunny and around 23 degrees. Ideal weather to conquer Christ the Redeemer. And when I say conquer I really mean conquer. You can take a van or a train up to the top. But you can also go on foot. And that is precisely what we have done.
We started in Parque Lage and from here we walked a challenging tour to the top. In the beginning the path steadily increases and you will pass three small waterfalls. They aren’t really impressive (with good weather). You will also see lots of birds and a colony of Capuchin monkeys. After the last waterfall the trails starts to climb up very fast. This is the hardest part with elevations of 35%. We really break a sweat. Some parts are only accessible by iron chains hanging from the rocks.
After this the trail flattens again. You will cross the railway tracks and withing 10 minutes you will reach the road. In another 10 minutes you are on the top of Corcovado only to find out that the tickets you bought online need to be scanned at Paineires. And this place lies several 100 meters lower. Normally you will enter the vans here. So we had to go down again (luckily by van) and 30 minutes later we were standing underneath Christ.
This is absolute the highlight of our still short trip. The views are fabulous and the statue is really beautiful. It almost looks like it is moving when you look up and see the clouds passing above it. Because of its height there is enough place for everybody to have your picture taken with it. Of course everybody visited Christ when coming to Rio de Janeiro but we just want to affirm this. It is worth your visit and compared to the Sugarloaf mountain much cheaper. The trail up took us about 2 hours and down 1,5 hours. This trail is 5.8 kilometers long and it will take you 710 meters higher.
And this visit concludes the end of our first visit to Rio. We have now covered the highlights but when we come back we want to walk the trail up to Pedra Bonita and see the sunset at the Vista Chinesa. So lots more to do for us besides going to the Olympics. But this is for later. Tomorrow, Monday June 13, we will go to Ilha Grande. Time for some sun, beaches and more walks.