Corcovado and Sugarloaf

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End Apr 17, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Breakfast in the room was a great way to start our day - fresh fruit, breads and Danishes, coffee and juice. That was enough to fill our bellies for a busy day ahead. Thanks to directions from Ericka at the concierge desk, we found our way to the Metro station and boarded the train to Corcovado the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer, atop one of the largest mountains in Rio. Three stops and we hopped off for what I thought would be a short walk to the mountain. But I'm pretty certain we walked at least four miles through the inner city, passing flower shops, hardware stores, apartment buildings and schools. We felt like locals among the busy-ness of the city.

Halfway to our destination we had to stop at a farmacia to pick up a small package of Band-Aids to do some emergency blister control on my feet. Humidity and soft flesh inside leather sandals do not make for a comfortable walking experience. And what was I thinking anyway? Although it appeared from the map that our walk would be a short one, I should have known that walking around any city with Michael would turn into the journey of a thousand miles. I knew I should have worn my sneakers. Oh well.

Two bandages and an hour later we arrived at the entrance to Corcovado, hopped on the tram and up the mountain we went. Traveling through a thick forest with lush green trees and colorful flowers, the train crept up the steep hillside, offering intermittent glimpses of the city below through the trees. Disembarking, we were met with the challenge of climbing 200 steps to reach the statue. No one ever said reaching Christ was easy, but believe me, it was definitely worth the journey. The statue is truly enormous! With outstretched arms and a peaceful face, Christ the Redeemer overlooks the city below in regal authority. And from its base, one can barely see the top without bending backwards at a 45-degree angle. The view from this summit is awesome to say the least - from the beaches of Copacabana to Ipanema to Leblon and all the inner city buildings and streets in between, plus the outlying islands of Rio. It was truly an incredible sight.

In our effort to do as much as we can these first few days, we decided to trek over to Sugarloaf, another famous mountainside in Rio. Sunset atop this landmark will be great, we reason. So we take a bus down to Largo Do Machado, a bustling area, and walk around for more flavor of the city, and then towards Flamengo, catching a glimpse of Sugarloaf in the faraway distance, deciding that it's probably closer than we think. So we decide to try walking there. Again, what was I thinking? Through parks and neighborhoods, past the lagoon and the bay we walk .... and walk .... and walk. At least another eight miles.

Now with five Ban-Aids covering my blistering sandaled feet, we arrived at the base of Sugarloaf. Finally! I was so glad we were there because I felt myself getting grumpy and I just wanted to sit down. But that had to wait because there were no seats on the tram that took us ?? feet into the air in less than five minutes. The view from the top was fabulous. We could see Corcovado in the distance, and I was totally shocked to see the distance we had walked. But we were still not at the very top of the mountain. Up another cable car tram, we arrived at the pinnacle of this attraction - Sugarloaf. Admiring the view with the other visitors, I began to feel a fondness for this beautiful city of friendly people - the River of January, Rio de Janeiro. I think I could actually live here - at least for a few months of the year. I make a mental note to look into it once I make my millions from the sale of my novel. But that will have to wait because by then my feet were aching and my stomach was growling and I had to tend to the more urgent needs of the moment.

Back at the base of the mountain, we hop aboard a bus that is bound for Copacabana. Little did we know that we would be taking the long route, traveling through several areas of the city before finally reaching the familiar sights of Copabana about two hours later. No problem. My feet definitely needed the break. With sushi on our minds, we walked over to the Marriott Hotel and into the sushi bar there to enjoy for Rio-style sushi. A great way to wrap up the day.
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