We hadn't initially planned to go today due to weather forecasts of cloud and/or rain and after our last mishap at the view point we were happy to postpone this trip until we got a clear day. But after an hour or so of hanging out at the beach in the morning without a cloud in sight, we decided to jump on a bus and head to "Corcovado".
The public bus itself was easy enough, about 3 Reals per person from near our hostel in Ipanema and it dropped us right at the foot of the hill, across the road from the tourist centre. It was pretty easy to spot, with a train station and plenty of gift stores swarming with tourists. From here we paid a "collectivo" or minivan company 25 Reals each and were ferried up towards what we thought was going to be the top of the hill and the statue. This drive took about 10 minutes and was relatively pain free. It was when we got out that the fun started.
We got chucked out of the van into a sea of people with some very broken english/spanish instructions about where to go and what to do. We eventually worked out that we had to que up to get a ticket to the national park that the statue is located in, and then line up again to actually enter the park. We semi hacked the system, with the girls waiting in the line for the tickets whilst sammy and myself lined up in the park entry one. This was the beginning of a 3 hour ordeal of waiting in ques in the 35 degree heat despite all of our best efforts to beat the system. I had initially wanted to walk up the hill from the bus stop at the very bottom and had been talked out of it by the other three much to my annoyance. After learning the walk would have involved 2 hours of solid uphill slog in the 35 degree heat, only then to also have to wait in line for 3 hours with no food nearby I would have happily held my tongue and jumped at the easy option.
Eventually after all the lines and heat, we got to the foot of the statue sunburnt and hangry and saw what all the hype was about. The statue wasn't as tall as I had imagined, but the view from the hill at the big man's feet was absolutely amazing. Corcovado stands smack above the centre of the city, towering over everyone and offers easily the best view in town. I can't even begin to describe how good it was, despite the huge amount of people there. We spent a good hour at the top snapping the typical cheesy tourist shots, asking people in terrible broken portugenglish to take photos with our camera, helping them out with their own, and just generally soaking in Rio from above before deciding to head back down. The way down was much easier with less people and hence much less waiting time.
I have to note here that apparently the crowds we experienced at Corcovado was abnormally huge. Obviously it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, but we visited in the busiest time of the year and found out later that 2 or 3 huge cruise liners had arrived that morning and had dispersed their floating populations straight up Corcovado around the time we had chosen to travel there. That compiled with the first sunny day in a while, it was bound to be busy. However, although the lines were like pulling teeth for our impatient little crew, it is still something I would recommend everyone makes the time to do if they ever get to go to Rio de Janeiro.
The next day we spent at the beach, cruising around downtown and spending time speaking to what seemed to be every single citibank employee on both sides of the Pacific (but I won't bore you all with those details).
Next stop - Armação dos Búzios