Rio – Christ the Redeemer and wandering in Copacabana

So the more astute amongst you will have notice I didn’t post yesterday. Basically I spent all day Sunday being sick. It was grim. I blame that cheap sushi! Or actually the two glasses of wine I had in the hotel bar. I just lay in my darkened hotel room all day, only getting up to vomit. I curled up in bed and managed in between drifting off to sleep to watch Home Alone in Portuguese (which I could follow) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (didn’t have a clue what was going on). I just felt really terrible. So it was either food poisoning from the sushi or the water in my frosted wine glass wasn’t quite right. Either way it wasn’t pleasant.

At around 6pm I did manage to venture out – I just wanted some chocolate milk to line my stomach. And – lo and behold – I think I managed to find the worst supermarket in the world!

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This is just around the corner from my hotel. Basically anything you want, there’s just an empty space on the shelf where it should be. They don’t even have fresh milk. Only UHT stuff. Anyway, I did manage to find one carton of chocolate (UHT obvs) milk and joined the queue. There were three people in front of me, and twenty minutes later I was still in the queue, feeling like I was going to pass out. Just before I got served (thinking I was being smart in keeping it frozen ‘till the last minute) I ran out the line to get an ice cream bar – I fancied something soothing and cold. By the time I’d paid, the ice cream bar was a pile of mushy goo in its wrapper. It did make me think supermarkets really aren’t that bad at home!

The amazing thing was that while the queues were enormous, there were only two checkouts open, and staff just wandering about looking absolutely nonchalant. GRRRR!

Anyway I went back to my hotel room, threw my ice cream in the bin and went to sleep. I was worried having slept all day I wouldn’t sleep – but that wasn’t a problem.

Day Four

So, having lost a day, I was determined to make the most of my next day in Rio. I was up at 6am (!) and headed to the deserted Copacabana beach across the road from my hotel. I managed to get some pretty good shots.

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It’s really an amazing time to be at the beach – the exact opposite of during the day when it’s crowded and hectic. And there’s no denying it’s spectacular. The promenade beside the beach was dotted with people heading to work and walking their dogs.

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After having a couple of pieces of fruit (being cautious!) from the hotel’s buffet breakfast, I hailed a car from the hotel to take me to Cosme Velho. I was going to see Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue, and read it was best to get there early to avoid the crowds. There’s a couple of options to get up the mountain, but I decided to take the tram as it seemed a bit more exciting than getting a van up (and less strenuous than walking).

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I’d read the ticket office opened at 8am, so was there by about 7.40am, and there were just a couple of people in front of me. Eventually I got my ticket, only to discover that the first tram didn’t actually depart until 8.40am. And there wasn’t much to do but wait.

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Eventually, we boarded, and by now I was glad I’d arrived early. The tram filled up quickly and people were left waiting for the next one. I’d read the best place to sit on the tram was the right hand side (actually facing backwards), and that was right – in between the thick vegetation you got an occasional glimpse of an incredible view of the city.

Finally, I was at the top. I must admit I was still feeling a bit rough, and wished I’d maybe left it a day or two to let me recover from my sickness, as I don’t feel I really appreciated it properly, but it was still amazing. It’s just ENORMOUS.

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There’s like a walkway around the statue itself, and you get some amazing views of Rio. It was a bit cloudy (and the clouds can ruin the view, you are that high up) but the scene was still pretty incredible – Rio’s natural setting is beautiful.

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Even though I was on the first tram up to the statue, I still thought it was busy enough! So I’d definitely recommend going in the morning – and the earlier the better. People are taking selfies literally all over the place.

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I must confess I took some too, but I also took photos for people and got them to take some of me in return. The magic of Photoshop meant I was able to get rid of the crowds! I actually spotted a tiny chapel inside the base of the statue, which I bet most people miss. But you weren’t allowed to take photos in it.

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I had a wander around after that, and browsed the usual tacky souvenir stalls, before catching the tram back down to ground level.

After quickly heading to my hotel room, I decided I’d walk to Ipanema – it’s another beach about 20 minutes from Copacabana on foot, but also apparently one of the best shopping areas. So I thought I’d go for a wander and soak up the atmosphere.

Ipanema Beach is as stunning as Copacabana really – I’m definitely planning on going back once I’m feeling better.

I walked along the main street, before heading to a little bakery I’d read about for lunch.

I ordered a little sandwich as again I was being very careful food wise, and really didn’t feel that hungry. It was quite nice, but it took a very long time to come.

After that I just wandered the streets.

I didn’t really see any shops that looked that interesting, and I’d read my guidebook so was looking in the right places.

I did find a cool beachwear shop for guys, but didn’t buy anything.

I walked back to my hotel, and by this point was beginning to feel exhausted. I decided to call it a day and caught up on some British TV and ordered a snack from room service. Hopefully when I woke up in the morning I’d be feeling completely back to normal!