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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pao de Acucar: Sugarloaf Mountain

Our last full day in Rio was spent visiting Sugarloaf, or Pao de Acucar as it is called in Portuguese. The name derives from the shape of the mountain, which is similar to the traditional shape of refined loaf sugar - which is how sugar was sold before the little cubes came to be.

Since we did alright we decided to forego the actual tour and cab it to the base of Sugarloaf mountain, a great decision considering the difference in cost and the total amount of time that we spent looking around. It seems that even the most incredible views don't keep a 2-year-old entertained for long.

There are actually two hills involved in the journey to the top, and two trolly car lines. A ticket includes passage all the way to the top and back, at a cost of $53 real for adults, $26 for children 6 - 12 years and free for those under 6.

First stop is Morro de Urca. The trolly cars are like space-aged bubbles that have 360 degree views (windows on all sides) and feel quite safe, even for the height-adverse traveler. The trip up lasts less than two minutes, and takes you 220 meters (~720 feet) up. Trams leave once every 20 minutes and the day we went there was no line to purchase tickets or to board the trolly.

At this first stop there are some great views, a little area for shopping or getting something to eat, and they have retired trolly cars on display with a bit of information from when they were used. For example, these death cars were used from 1912 until 1972. Seriously!? I'm not sure who these adventurous folks were in 1912, but it certainly wouldn't have been me.

View from the first mountain. Pretty great view of some of the beaches and the way the city is built up into the landscape:

Also, an amazing perspective of plans landing at the regional airport in Rio. There were quite a few planes that passed through while we were there, and each time the entire group of tourists stopped to shoot pictures like this one. Kind of wild to see the plane so close up while in the air.

Also seen at a great angle is the Christ the Redeemer statue. This photo, again as with the day we visited the Redeemer, looks ominous with the swirly clouds, but the statue definitely commands an audience.

The second half of the tram takes you from the top of Morro de Urca to the top of Pao de Acucar, almost 400 meters (~1,300 feet). This was where I got really nervous. Again, the trip is short, the ride is smooth and feel secure - but there is something about riding in a bubble hanging by a wire 1,000 feet above the ground that just didn't sit well with me.

We all made it to the top without incident. I'm inching my way closer to the edge here to take a picture with the kiddos. Gretchen thinks it's hilarious that I'm so nervous, and I'm basically clutching onto her in terror.

Some nice tourists offered to take a full family shot for us - our only family shot of the vacation - overlooking more of the beautiful beaches surrounding Rio.

Rio was a fantastic trip, I am so glad that we went. It was more expensive than anywhere else we have visited in South America, especially around the holidays, but I would absolutely go back and certainly recommend it as an easy trip from Buenos Aires. The beaches were far nicer than anything we've seen in Argentina though the water was rough for anyone that is not a strong swimmer. Next time, prior to visiting Brazil, I would take a crash course in Portuguese - our Spanish was of little to no help.

Obrigada, Brazil! We'll be back!

1 comment:

  1. I also loved going up to Sugarloaf -- a bit nerve wracking like you said, but amazing views of the city once you're up there. I also have to agree that Portuguese is a very difficult language and we were glad to have someone with us who spoke enough to get us around!