23.11.2015 - 23.11.2015
I had woken up during the night due to thunderstorm that hit Rio de Janeiro with rainstorm and lightning which lighted up the entire hotel room, even though the curtain covered the whole window. When it was time to get out of bed and eat breakfast the thunderstorm had past. When I stepped outside the hotel I could feel the air was cooler now and that drizzle was still in the air. I ogled up towards Corcovado and noticed the entire peak was embedded in fog. Damn. I’m having a trip up there to see Christ the Redeemer in the afternoon. Well, the fog has all morning to ease up so it should be a problem. Walked via Copacabana Beach towards Ipanema Beach. The sun made a few brave attempts to pierce through the heavy clouds but in vain. The clouds were so heavy and low today. Not many souls were swimming today, only a few surfers looking for the perfect wave.
There is a small foreland between Ipanema and Copacabana, Pedra do Arpoador, with cliffs breaking the ocean waves. Apparently that place was ideal for cactuses since a lot of cactuses were growing there and I think it was some kind of Prickly Pear.
Then I walked back to Copacabana and found a lunch buffet place. So practically and smart that you take how much you want and then pay in weight.
At 2.20pm I had the pick-up for my afternoon tour to Corcovado and Tijuca Forest. The guide Jaolber “Joe” picked me up in the hotel lobby and we embarked a full-sized buss, even though we weren’t that many people, I would say totally 25 people. Unfortunately the fog had decided to stay and Joe informed us during the bus ride that we probably wouldn’t be able to see that much of the statue itself, nevertheless the amazing view. Such shame! The bus parked down at the train station wherefrom the mountain train departed from every 20 minutes. Alternatively you can drive up on a narrow lingering road. We embarked the train and thanks to non-existing queues we all rode in the same train. During high season the queues are long and the waiting time could be several hours due to the limited amount of passengers (540) transported each hour. The train steeply ascended the almost 4 kilometers up to the top station. The first locomotive was steam-powered and started operating in 1884, but today they are electrically driven and it’s not unusual that the trains are out of service. Joe had told us that the trains had been out of service just yesterday and that his tourist group had to cancel the tour since the bus cannot drive the narrow road up the end station for the trains.
From the end station you had to make a choice. Either walk the 223 stair steps up to the observation deck or ride the elevator combined with escalators. Since it wasn’t too many people up here today the obvious choice fell on the elevator + escalator. When up there on the absolute height of 710 meters above sea level the fog was so dens you couldn’t even see the foot of Christ the Redeemer. A huge disappointment since I had paid for the tour and wanted to see the statue or at least the magnificent view. But no! The weather God’s wanted neither of that for me.
Occasionally you could imagine a silhouette of a statue through the fog, I never got to see more than that before we had to gather again for the downhill ride to the bus again. Even though we had gotten small notes to attach to our clothes with Joes name on it, 2 people actually managed to get lost and never rode the train down with us. Joe just shrugged and said they had themselves to blame. He had been very clear about when and where we would meet again. Down by the bus we embarked and started our ride back to our hotels. On the way back we passed through some of Rio de Janeiro’s over 30 car tunnels that had been built due to the mountainous area.
We passed Guanabara Palace where Princess Isabell once lived and nowadays houses the town’s governor. Along the way we passed many street arts/tags on houses, buildings and walls. Some were just scrawls whle others were like true art. Eventually we arrived in Copacabana, which by the way means “Shiny Horizon” in Bolivian. The Bolivians brought that name when visiting Brazil a long time ago. One after another disembarked the bus and so even I, when the bus finally stopped outside my hotel.
Next pick-up was at 7.20pm for BBQ dinner and later Samba Show. I was well in time in the hotel obby and waited. I waited and waited and remembered Peter’s words: “It’s common that people are late, sometimes up to 30 minutes”. But when time was close to 8pm I contacted my local guide Renato and asked if they had forgotten me. It didn’t take him long to reach back to me and told me that a misunderstanding had occurred and I needed to take a taxi to Shenanigan where the BBQ dinner was held. It took about 15 minutes with taxi and when I stepped inside through the doors into the restaurant it was practically crowded. I got a seat with people from America that was also going to the Samba Show later. Very nice people! It was a little tricky to understand how it worked there, but my friends at the table told me. I had to get vegetables, potatoes, rice and pasta at the pre-heated tables further away and then the staff came at the table serving newly grilled beef, meat, chicken or whatever and cut it up on your plate. If you didn’t pay attention and said no if you didn’t want any, you got a slice. A lot of great meat and chicken were served in all its shapes and tastes. When the dinner ended with ice cream you were full. But you can always make room for some ice cream
Then we walked out to the bus and got driven to Plataformas Samba Show. We were entertained with a spectacular show with live music, rhythms and dances with lurid colors and glitz and glamour. Totally amazing! The show went on for about 1 ½ hour and arrived back at the hotel just before midnight.