We stayed a week in Rio – hurrah – at a most beautiful B&B, Guest House Bianca, in Santa Teresa (fantastic hosts, great building, and an amazing view), and there were a lot of things to do, but unfortunately it rained and rained and rained, and was also a bit dangerous (don’t take any bags about with you, unless they are of the plastic carrier bag variety), so Tipsy often opted to stay and relax indoors (sorry, not too many photos to share with you).
Christ the Redeemer
On the first and only rain-free day, we hot-footed it to the base of Christ the Redeemer, where you can catch a minibus to the top (ticket prices include entry to the park). The ticket office has a live web cam, which showed us that the great statue was visible between the clouds, so while the sales lady couldn’t guarantee the clouds wouldn’t have descended by the time we’d got to the top, we thought we’d risk it for a biscuit, and luckily for us, the weather held out.
In an immaculately organised way, the buses wound their way to the top, and from there, it was a leg-saving lift and then escalator up to the base (who would have thought that they’d be lifts and escalators at the top of a mountain!). The statue is gigantic, magnificent and beautiful, and there’s a lovely little chapel at the base too, lots of tourists (of course), and great views.
Day Trips to Teresópolis & Petrópolis
We took a couple of day trips from Brazil by coach (a great and easy way to travel, from Terminal Novo Rio). One to Teresópolis and the Finger of God Mountain – Serra dos Órgãos – very impressive and a town full of lovely, lovely people, who helped us when we were unsure about buses, and provided us with great company while we waited for the buses – we had lengthy conversations with a student, shopkeeper and policeman, despite not speaking Portuguese, nor them speaking English.
The following day, we went to Petrópolis, with its beautiful Imperial Palace (you have to slide around in house slippers), and house / museum of the aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos Dumont – who had also designed a staircase where you could only start on the right foot. We ended our trip by visiting the Cerevejaria Bohemia and going on the self-guided beer tour – with its highly informative displays, lovely interactive screens, and fabulous beer tasting.
Back in Rio and sadly, when we went to Sugar Loaf itself, the cable cars and mountains were shrouded in clouds, so we decided not to go up. And there was definitely no sign from either the Girl from Ipanema, or Lola in Copacabana, or indeed many other people on the beaches, as it was rather rainified – we still managed to enjoy a fresh, tender coconut, under an (ahem) sun-umbrella. We also took ourselves to H:Stern, gem ‘museum’ – an interesting little tour, which ends in the showroom, but which also offers a great service of free transport there and back to your hotel.
Our guest house was located in a lovely little area, with arty shops, cafés (try the açai for breakfast like the locals), cobbled streets and a tram (free when we were there, because it was still being trialled) going to Lapa and the Cathedral. The only downside, is that it was dangerous, and unfortunately, we witnessed a mugging, which was not at all pleasant. Everything else, was great. The view from our balcony over looked the bay and airport – so we could look out to the planes landing and taking off, and we had a fantastic view of Mão de Açućar, as Tipsy called it (or Pão de Açućar – as Portuguese-speaking human pets say, or Sugar Loaf – for the English-speaking ones) and a most spectacular sunrise.
We were also really close to the famous and beautiful Escadaria Selarón, with it’s many different tiles from around the world (used as inspiration in the BBC’s sports coverage of the Olympics 2016), and used by local Cariocans to go up and down, and by cats, who like and don’t like having their photos taken.
Just to let you know, we’re not being sponsored by anyone (yet) to write this blog post. We’ve only put in the clickable links so that’s it’s easier for you to find things. We’re nice like that ?