As announced: a day off, visiting the statue of Christ. Well, we did the ‘Corcovado-tour’, which would be more than just going to the statue but nobody really seemed to know what that extra bit was.
We left around half past eight in a bus with the most comfy seats ever. It was very tempting to get back to sleep but I managed to resist the urge. We first drove to Sambódromo. Basically it’s the street (with stands on both sides) where the most famous Carnival parade in the world passes in front of hundreds of international camera’s. A street that was built especially for that. A couple of days ago at the House of Switzerland I talked about it with one of those three local girls we had met. At first, they had ruined my image of this carnival. The most famous carnival in the world was just a show, in one street with stands, something artificial just for the international audience watching it on tv. Ouch.
The local girl whose name I don’t remember (she was female and Brazilian but sounded British as she had lived or studied in London or something like that, I don’t know) reassured me though. The carnival was indeed in all of Rio, not just at Sambódromo. That part of the carnival was just the face of the package, the kind of promotional show. The real carnival takes place in the rest of Rio’s streets. That’s where it really is a party, according to that local girl.
Anyway, we took some pictures of the Sambódromo, I bought two souvenirs in the local shop and then we moved on, passing a huge aqueduct on the way. I had no idea they had one of those here in Rio, but apparently they do. The bus stopped at Praca Floriano, or ‘Cine Landia’ as the locals call it here, referring to the presence of many movie theatres at this place back in the days. The square is kind of inspired by French architecture, is home to the local theatre/opera and the streets leading up to Praca Floriano also give you a view of the statue of Christ Redeemer on one side and the Sugarloaf mountain on the other. Apart from this, there’s not much to do or see here, but at least we saw it.
After that: lunchtime! We went to ‘Faghulia’, a restaurant where you pay by kilo. So you don’t pay for what you eat but for how much you eat. In my case: 410 grams for my meal, 260 grams desert (I couldn’t resist the ice cream!) and a Coca-Cola. In total it cost me 46,77 reais, which is around 15 euro’s… Good deal! Also, I tasted a piece of sushi and some ‘chicken hearts’. Apparently those really are the hearts of a chicken. Very small, I ate about four of them. A bit like how Daenerys Targaryen ate the heart of a horse, but for me it was a small chicken heart. With less blood in and around my mouth.
When lunch was over, we set sail for Corcovado. Our guide Hans told us that ‘Corcovado’ is Portuguese for ‘Hunchback’. The mountains around Rio are named after what they look like, so that’s how it got its name. The train that takes thee to the top is an experience on itself. It goes quite slowly and every now and then it stops to make sure another train coming down can pass. At all of these stops there are some locals selling beer, Coca-Cola and water. Along the way, as you get higher, you get more and more beautiful views of Rio as well of course. Remember this: while going up, make sure you are on the right side (as in: right, not left) of the train, facing down. That way, you get the best views.
Once you’re at the top, you still have to climb about fifty stairs and then you’re at the feet of one of the modern marvels of the world. I have to admit: even if it’s a huge and impressive statue, I prefer seeing it from the town centre at the bottom of the mountain. It’s more impressive when you see it from further away. When you’re at the lagoon for example and you see Christ on top of Corcovado, as a shepherd protecting the city.. That’s a lot more impressive. When you’re standing next to it, it’s just a big statue basically.. What’s a lot more expressive is the view of Rio de Janeiro that you get from standing there. So if you’re ever up there, don’t just gaze at the statue or take selfies with it. Make sure you also take the time to look at the city.
I also have to admit that during the half hour we were up there, I clearly hadn’t learned from the moment on the rock at Grumari Beach yesterday. This time I did have my camera with me and I was too busy taking pictures than I was enjoying the moment, realising where I was.
We had to go back down at 3.15pm and only then I realised it. I put my camera and my cell phone away and started to think. Think about the pictures of the statue on the internet. Picturing a map of the world and imagining where you can find Rio and Belgium on the map. Realising that I am right there, in Rio, at that statue. Time went by too fast and I hardly had the time to realise it all. Shame on me. I hope to have another chance at this in two years, hoping I can get to the Olympics in Rio then. Then I will come back to Corcovado and the statue and I will take no more than five pictures. The rest of the time, I will just enjoy the moment. Hopefully the weather will be equally good then!
After Corcovado and the statue of Christ Redeemer, we went back down to the buses. Those who wanted could get off at Sugarloaf, at Copacabana, at a restaurant or at DeVillage. I hesitated for a really long time and chose for the restaurant. ‘Kokua’ or something like that, I don’t really remember. It turned out to be a great choice. All you can eat buffet for 40 reais, plus drinks. In the end I paid about 50 reais (+/- 16 euro’s) for multiple pieces of meat, fish, sushi, pasta and a Coca-Cola. Seriously: a bargain. Good food, friendly service. And an awesome discovery. You know pancakes with hot chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice? Well, replace the pancake with pizza dough… Seriously. BEST THING EVER.
Corcovado won the Game of Mountainthrones for now (I’ll judge after having done other mountains as well), the pizza-with-chocolate-sauce-and-vanilla-ice won the Game of Dessertthrones and this evening Goose won the Game of Podiumthrones.
After SX and Black Box Revelation, Goose was the third and final group to perform at DeVillage. And they did pretty damn good. By far the best concert we had here. Also the only ones to get a “we want more!” at the end. They deserved it. They’re good!
And so now it’s time for me to get to bed again. In seven hours or so we will go to Sao Paulo for the last group stage game of our Red Devils. There’s even a real chance I might get tickets to go and see the round of sixteen game as well, but we’ll see about that.