There was a lot of excitement about visiting Rio de Janeiro. It has magic associated with it. I think it was the majestic nature of those two mountains – Sugarloaf and Corcovado (with its statue of Christ the Redeemer). They strongly reminded me of the mountain at Machu Picchu. That was equally stunning. So I got up at the crack of dawn. That was not my usual time for rising from the pit but I wanted to see Rio appear out of the mist.
It was magical. Unfortunately it was overcast and a bit drizzly. Not quite the weather I had been expecting in Brazil. But it was warm and the low clouds, though robbing us of a pretty sunrise, proved atmospheric and created a spectacular backdrop as Sugarloaf and Corcovado came into view on the horizon.
I searched for Christ the Redeemer and was a little disappointed. I expected it to be bigger. As the clouds drifted by it would peek out from the mists.
As the ship nosed forward towards the dock in Rio a bunch of us more intrepid mariners watched the mountains slide by. There was an accompaniment of clicks as the perspective changed and we saw different shots. Planes took off through the clouds, frigate birds soared overhead, vultures circled in and out of the clouds.
We slid into the dock as flocks of cormorants, in V formation, scudded by over the waves and Shearwaters sheared. It had the promise of greatness but for the disconcerting drizzle.
We had two days to sample its delights. Not long but long enough to get a taste. We’d planned out that day one was to be a trip up Corcovado to see if we could be redeemed (an impossibility).
On the way we stopped at the Fabulous Copacabana beach. The drizzle had developed into full-blown rain so it was devoid of all life, aside from a few hardy joggers and a bunch of robust beach volley ball players. It was apparent that Brazilians did not relish aqueous precipitation even if it was tepid. The rain gave it the appearance of Bognor on a typical English summer day. We headed for Ipanema. There wasn’t a single bikini-clad lady in sight to saunter past and turn my gaze. There were some great sand models though. It wasn’t yet raining hard enough to melt them. I noted the relative size of Christ the Redeemer was much exaggerated on the sand castles. We didn’t tarry.
We joined the lines and eventually got on board the train to take us to near the summit. It went through some rich tropical rainforest with views of favelas (the Brazilian slum buildings on the hills), exotic fruit and sweeping rain.
We walked up the remaining steps to the top and joined a crowd of rain-mac attired tourists all peering up into the thick fog where a faint silhouette of the statue could be discerned, in hope that the clouds might part as the seas had done for Moses. Eventually they did. It was bigger than it looked.
We went to the end and peered over into the wall of fog at the non-existent spectacular views. When we had sufficient photos of walls of mist we headed for café and a cup of Brazilian coffee (probably Nescafé).
We made our way back and had lunch. The rain had largely stopped but it was still heavily overcast. But staunchly we decided to head off exploring. We walked miles through the new square, the old town, into churches, cathedrals and museums. We copped a group of female drummers loudly practicing under the arches for the carnival. We went into the new cathedral and were impressed with the amazing stain-glass windows. We sat with the statues of the congregation in the Anglican Church, looked at the colourful murals around the city, the colonial architecture and gaudy colours.
Then we found a café and had a few beers.
Day one was done