After our first taste of Brazil, we were really excited for our next adventure in Rio de Janeiro. Lucky for us, we arrived on the day of the closing ceremony for the Paralympics. It would have been criminal not to attend a party of that scale in a place like Rio.
We had booked a private room at Ipanema Beach Hostel (highly recommended). We took a bus from the airport that dropped us a couple of blocks away from our hostel so it was a breeze to get to our accommodation. We only had enough time to check-in, drop our bags and catch the Rio Metro from General Osorio straight to Maracana Stadium.
The closing ceremony was everything we had hoped for. We had no idea about the local music or celebrities, but the atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The final performance was by a local icon called Ivete [Sangalo], who we thought was Jennifer Lopez and then she started singing. JLo or not, she had the entire stadium on their feet (including us), dancing and singing along (we mimed as well as we could).
Rain and Rio aren’t two words that should appear next to each other, but torrential rain was how we were welcomed, starting on the night of the closing ceremony, till the night after. As a result, one day was spent walking aimlessly around a mall because I didn’t want to waste a day sitting around at our hostel.
As per our traveling tradition, we started our next day with the walking tour and spent hours trying to spot Australia and New Zealand tiles on the Escadaria Selaron. I am ashamed to admit that even after scaling the length of the stairs numerous times, I was unable to locate the Kiwi tile, while Mrs FOMOist found the Aussie tile within the first few minutes.
The next item on our to-do list was the infamous Christ the Redeemer statue. Locally known as the Christo Redentor, visiting the icon was a lot simpler than we thought. A short bus-ride from Ipanema to Largo do Machado station, purchase the official ticket from the outside and BAM! I don’t know what I was expecting, but the statue was huge, a lot bigger than I had expected. Also, it’s hard to notice in photographs, but it kind of leans towards the front (or so it seems). Due to the height where the statue is, if it is cloudy, you barely see anything. We were fortunate enough to witness the best of both worlds. When we got there, it was clear blue skies with Christ the Redeemer dominating over us. After about 30 minutes, we saw the clouds enveloping it and it disappearing completely from over our heads. It was incredible!
After our incredible morning expedition, next stop of the day was Sugarloaf Mountain. Like the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain did not disappoint either. The view of Rio from the top of the mountain is spectacular. This is where you can really appreciate the diverse landscape of Rio de Janeiro with expansive turquoise coastline on one side and the mountains towering the city on the other.