We were taken on a city tour during the first day in Rio. Headed for Christ the Redeemer situated in the Corcavado Mountains, we were beyond thrilled. A symbol of Brazilian Christianity, the statue has become an icon for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. In spite of the rains that morning, our spirits could not be dampened.
Our zesty bus tour guide, Luiza gave us a lot of information to digest but had our full attention. All our heads and ears were perked whenever she would point to a building and relay its history to us. Once we got close to the peak, we got the first glimpse of Christ the Redeemer and it would forever be etched in our minds! It was like the Christ was welcoming us with arms wide open. When we got up to the statue and craned our necks to look at the magnificent structure, we were overcome with a sense of awe. The view of Rio city from the pedestal was breathtaking! A panoramic view of the city, with its beaches, favelas and high-rise buildings got our cameras busy. Every now and then, a fluid cloud would appear and conceal the view only to reveal something better after it passed.
Our next stop was Escadaria Selaron or the Selaron steps. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron who claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. Wonderfully constructed with a myriad of colours in mosaic and tiles put together by Selaron, it was a project that started out as a hobby but soon became an obsession. Selaron began renovating dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house. At first, neighbours mocked him for his choice of colours as he covered the steps in fragments of blue, green and yellow tiles – the colours of the Brazilian flag. He found he was constantly out of money so sold paintings to fund his work. It was long and exhaustive but he continued on and eventually covered the entire set of steps in tiles, ceramics and mirrors. There were interesting square tiles showcasing snippets of the country that had contributed to the Escadaria and even this time our cameras weren’t idle.
Our next stop was the Sao Sebastiao Cathedral. Giving its audience the first impression of a re-engineered pyramid, the cathedral boasted of tall and imposing contemporary stained glass paintings on the inside. The paintings were a bit hard to decipher which added to the unusual charm of the cathedral and inspired faith in something greater. As if to symbolically bless us for our short prayers at the Cathedral, it started raining right after we stepped out. We loved every bit of Rio and it seemed like Rio was returning the favour.
Pao de Acucar (the Sugarloaf Mountain) which was the following pitstop was nothing short of paradise. A ten-minute cable car ride that runs up two mountains and allows for more breathtaking scenic views of Rio took us to the top of the mountain where the coast of the city could be seen. Again this time, the clouds wanted to play hide and seek.
In the distance, the Cristo Redentor statue could also be seen. We learnt from our guide that this was the most visited tourist spot in Rio, after Cristo Redentor and why not: it’s a place that shouldn’t be missed for the world. After spending a good 45 minutes on the mountain top, we descended the mountain and headed for lunch. We went to a Churrascaria– the place where meat is cooked in Churrasco (barbecue) style , where our appetite for something Brazilian was fulfilled.
The first day of exploring Rio de Janeiro and its culture was indeed unforgettable.
The Biz Dev Blog Team