Saturday, November 22, 2008

For the typical tourist (who loves sight-seeing)

The last day in Rio consisted of touring the famous marks, the Cristo statue and the Sugar Loaf (on the left) mountain. Yes they are as impressive and as worthy of seeing as the tourist agencies make it out to be. Be prepared to be totally and utterly amazed at the views of the city. This is where I fell in love with Rio. Words don't do justice, so you will just have to look at the albums once they are posted.

There is so much to observe and to take in, can be a little over-whelming at first. My preference was to hike up the Corcovado mountain to see Christ the Reedemer statue, but no one else was excited over the idea. But how can one not get giddy over a steep Tijuca atlantic rain forest to the mountain-top panoramic vantage point. Next time I will not pass this up.

The statue is Art Deco-style, 125 feet tall. A little history behind this is quite amusing. The idea came around 1850 to a Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss who requested funds from Princess Isabel, who didn't think too much of it, thus dismissing the idea. When Brazil became a Republic in 1889 a second proposal was put in 1921 by the Archdiocese of Rio, and a local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa was chosen to oversee this ordeal, and a French monumental sculptor Paul Landowski was the designer. Reinforced concrete was chosen as the media, and the out layer was out of soapstone due to its malleability and good weather resistance. The monument was inaugurated on October 12, 1931 by the president in a posh ceremony. It has been vowing the world ever since.

The Sugar Loaf or Pao de Acucar mountain is amazing in its own right, being 600 million year old. After a battle between the French and the Portuguese, it was named during the time of sugar cane export, where the finished product was packed into bread loaf-like shapes. The Portuguese chose this as a landmark for a settling location for the magnitude of visibility from the sea. Today a session of 2 cable cars take a tourist first up the 700 foot Urca Hill, and then 1300 feet to the top, where a view of the city from the other point awaits. For the very avid hiker, a rugged trail exists but once get to the top no one to climb down, so just ride the cable car like everyone else! Both of these views made a lasting impression of endless beauty never to be forgotten.

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