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Friday, December 27, 2013

Christ the Redeemer

Our second day in Rio was reserved for the most popular tourist attraction in the city, Christ the Redeemer. We had hoped for a nice, clear day, but clear weather wasn't in the cards for us so we decided to go ahead with the plan. We looked into a number of tour options to visit the statue, but each of them were either too expensive, too long, or not what we were looking for. Thank goodness for that since going on our own was easy, fast and much cheaper than any other option. Our hotel front desk staff were very helpful, we told them where we wanted to go and they hailed a taxi and told them where to take us. To visit the Christ, you can either drive to the top or go to the base station and take the train (Trem do Corcovado) to the top. If you have a chance, look at the google maps directions from Ipanema to the Redeemer statue, which confirmed our choice to take the train. The cab ride from our hotel to the base station of the Trem do Corcovado was less than $30 reais, and once we were there, everyone at the station ticket desk spoke either English or Spanish so we were golden.

Tickets to the top were $46 reais per adult, with kids under 6 free. On this particular day, they warned us that visibility was zero. They said it when we got in line, they told us again when we purchased our tickets. Then they printed it on the tickets themselves, just to be sure. There was no mistaking it, we were not going to have a great view - but we were already there with the kids, so we ignored these warnings and continued to the top.

There were not many people in line for tickets when we arrived - possibly due to the ZERO visibility warnings - but the earliest available train was 40 minutes from the purchase of our tickets, so there is probably some sense in buying your tickets ahead of time online.

To pass the time before boarding, there is a little park across the street with a playground and a retired train car on display. The train was inaugurated way back in 1884, though it had been running for a few years before that to help bring pieces of the monument to the top. It started as a steam train, but was renovated in 1910 to become an electric train, the first of its kind in Brazil. The ride to the top takes around 20 minutes and covers approximately 2.5 miles, 2,300 feet in altitude from the base station to the statue.

The wall that divides the train station from the street has a really interesting set of murals, some religious, some cultural, but they all make for a cool entryway to the station.

If you went inside the station, there are a number of things to keep you occupied before the train ride. There was this strange, smaller, metal version of the Redeemer strung up with Christmas lights, which lots of folks were talking photos in front of. There were some food stations and souvenir shops and a juice bar. While we waited, a marching band complete with gymnastics dancers and a Santa Clause marched in to play Christmas tunes and popular Coldplay songs. The station was in full party mode with the big Birth Day coming up (we visited on December 21). Before we knew it, it was our turn to board the train and go.

There are no assigned seats on the train, so it is a bit of a mad rush to get on board. Seats face forward and backward, which is odd because it's really difficult to stay in your seat facing backward going up such a steep hill. The train itself is pretty hot and humid, but gets a good breeze while in motion. There are a few stops along the way, I couldn't say why, but each stop seemed like an eternity in the close confines of the train. It was really only a few minutes each time.

Once at the top, the view is spectacular, even on a zero visibility day. You can see Rio city from one side and the beach towns from the other, both are really cool to see from above.

And then there's the main attraction, the Christ. Or as Gretchen liked to call it "baby Jesus's daddy". It is enormous. The statue itself is almost 100 feet tall with an additional 25 feet or so of base hight. The day we visited, clouds gave it a bit of a haunting or menacing feel, especially when the sun would peek out ever so slightly.

Trying to get a photo of anyone that included the Christ was an interesting task. This one just barely has Gretchen and I included and Jon was literally laying on the ground trying to get all of us in.

He wasn't the only ground-layer. Pretty much every group of people visiting the statue had some designated photographer laying on the ground looking up.

The clouds were blowing in the wind, every once in awhile we got a good clearing to see the city below. It really is a beautiful place - green forest, blue water and really cool landscape.

And other times, the clouds made you forget that you were standing so high up on the mountain. Zero visibility was not an exaggeration at times. 

I like this shot, even if it seems a bit menacing. Cloudy, blurred Christ in the background with Gretchen and Daddy in front.

There were elevators and escalators to help you get to the statue, though the elevators have a long line if you're not elderly or traveling with children. The down escalator was out of service so we ended up walking down a few flights of stairs - not a problem for us, but we were glad to be traveling without a stroller. Luckily, Alex is a champ at just riding along in the Ergo baby carrier - and it's great from a comfort standpoint for the parent. We got our money's worth out of that little device.

Christ the Redeemer was a really interesting way to spend a morning. We laughed at the fact that all sightseeing with children is on fast forward (we probably spent 30 minutes at the top - and noticed that other folks on our return train had arrived multiple hours before us). Jon and I certainly don't mind. We went, we took some pictures and we were back at the hotel by naptime followed by juicetime. A job well done.

1 comment:

  1. Visiting the Christ was one of my favorite experiences.... ever.