Rio, a gringo's guide.

Trip Start Jan 03, 2009
Trip End May ????

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It was an early start for me today as I aimed to see all the main landmarks and tourist sites of Rio. But I was in eager Gareth, rather than a groggy one as I boarded the short bus ride north since my first stop would also be the first wonder on my list, 'O Christo Redentor' (Christ the Redeemer). The statute was about 40m tall and sat on top the 700m peak of a the nearby Tijuca National Park. Designed by a local and a French architect it was an impressive structure and was slowly transported up the steep hills through the trees in pieces, taking nine years to construct. It opened in 1931 so is by far the newest of the wonders I will visit & I expect the least impressive.  Unfortunately, I had to appreciate the structure through the thronging crowds (probably something I will battle at each wonder visit due to our new global village), but it was a nice day so at least I could see it. The humid atmosphere causes clouds to lie low in Rio and they particularly centre over the mountainous rocks which jut out randomly over the beautiful landscape. So even on a cloudy day it can be difficult to see anything of the statue, let alone the views of the city the elevated platform it is on affords. As my pictures show there were still plenty of clouds but it was a pretty good day & I manged to get the classic shot of me, arms spread eagle in imitation, with my 'Lads on Tour' (sic) T-Shirt on. This is something that I think I will ironically wear in front of each wonder, but it caused a few stares & I heard one elderly, presumably French couple tut, "you cannot get away from ze drunken inglish anywhere".

Although soberly quizzical I was happy at the shirts intended effect & headed over to Sugar Loaf Mountain for a grander and clearer overview of Rio. Standing 400m above sea level, Po de Acar does indeed look like the shape of a refined sugar loaf and the views were similarly sweet. I gained a brilliant oversight of the city and can see why the Cariocas (people of Rio) hold it in such high esteem. A local phrase goes something like, 'God made the world in one day, for the next five he prepared Rio', and with such natural beauty, golden sands, brilliant blue ocean, lush forest and mountainous peaks, it is certainly hard to argue with them.

But what a shame I cannot share such sentiment for the man made structures of Rio. The other tourist sites, the Marciana stadium and the Carnival viewing platforms were just ugly large bits of concrete to me.
More inspiring was the Cathedral Metropolitina, a very tall and ultramodern cathedral capable of housing 2000 worshipers. Maybe if they Catholics keep on praying in that style, their built environment may start to be comparable to the magnificence of their natural one!
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