Rio: Part 2 (A Morning with Christ, An Evening at Sugarloaf, A Afternoon in a Mansion)
When the clouds stopped crying, we went to visit Christ the Redeemer.
With the subway, vans, trains, hiking trails, Uber and taxi's dotted all over the city, getting to Christ the Redeemer is no problem.
The hardest part's joining the ticket queue that winds up to the front desk like a seven metre anaconda. If you want my advice, take a Uber as early as possible up the front entrance (unless you like the scenic route, then take Trem do Corcovado to the top).
When we got to the top, we joined the other tourists laying down at his feet. What looked like an act of worship at first glance, was really an attempt at a selfie with the big guy.
The only chance of getting the entire 38m, 635 ton, Art Deco statue in one frame, without tourists, is to get as low as you can and shoot upwards.
Like the Statue of Liberty, it’s one of those things you have to do when your there.
While we were selfie jostling, the fog that’s well known in Rio rolled in quick. It came back for a sunset sneak attack at Sugarloaf Mountain that evening.
Like Christ The Redeemer, there’s a few ways to get to Pão de Açúcar. We chose to Uber to the base at Avenida Pasteur in Praia Vermelha, then hike half way up to the second cable car at Morro do Urca.
The trail winds through the tropical Atlantic rainforest and is home to Marmoset monkeys. One of them popped out from a tree while we were taking in a trailside view of the city. Tufts of fur sprouted from the sides of his face, which looked a lot like a gremlins, right down to the shrewd way he watched us pull our camera from our packs.
His tail was longer than his body and white at the edges like a Bali expats tasseled scarf. He hung around (pun intended, his nuts were lower than the tree branch) long enough to realise we had no food, then scampered off into the bushes.
We hiked the rest of the way to the cable car, bought return tickets, then trundled up over the city of Rio to the top of Sugarloafs' 396m peak.
The cable car took about 20 minutes to make the ascent, plenty of time to take in the widening views through the glass windows.
The top of Sugarloaf Mountain offers panoramic views of the city, as well as a gift shop, and a bar that makes every kind of Caipirinha under the setting sun.
We'd timed our visit to Sugarloaf for sunset, but my favourite part came after.
I love watching a city light up at night. There's something about the transition from dusk to night, when the lights come on at different stages, that fires my imagination.
I can't help but wonder who is in the building over there that’s still dark, what the plans of the people in the houses are that night, why some parts of the city light up quick as wildfire while others remain stubborn in their darkness.
Especially in a city like Rio. Standing up on Sugarloaf in the dark, well after most of the tourists had taken the cable car back down, watching the night time come alive, was more exciting than sunset (especially after the fog obscured any view of Christ the Redeemer in the distance).
We spent out last sightseeing afternoon at Parque Lage, an old mansion turned art school. The grounds are full of botanical gardens and small paths shaded by giant trees. The paths lead up behind the mansion, to the trailhead at Corcovado Mountain, the 2.5 hour hike that takes you all the way up to Christ The Redeemer.
Strolling through the green, we passed one women dressed head to toe in pink, cradling her pregnant belly while reclining on a crumbled stone wall. We continued by, eventually taking a seat on one of the wrought iron benches outside the front of the mansion.
In front of us, a woman stood on the front steps of the mansion wearing a floor length red dress, with a train that extended out towards the entrances' two pillars. Two men were hiding behind the pillars, holding the fabric to the maternity photographers directions, for over fifteen minutes.
Pregnancy photoshoots are a common thing in Brazil, and Parque Lages' the place to do it.
Out the back of the mansion, a low concrete pool filled the centre of an open aired courtyard, surrounded by concrete archways and shaded corridors. We sat down at the patio cafe and ordered two mansion-worthy mimosas.
In perfect backdrop, Christ The Redeemer sat on top of the hill behind us in the courtyard, arms out wide in acceptance of all that was happening below.
In February, that was a hell of a lot. After the thrill of the Galapagos and the wonders of the Amazon, we’d arrived at our final big ticket item.
When our drinks arrived, we clinked glasses, took a sip, then settled back for the all important discussion: What were we going to wear for the first day of Carnaval?