Searching for Jesus in Rio de Janeiro

Rio is a city I had wanted to visit for a long time. It didn’t disappoint. Me and my girlfriend touched down at 7am on 1st January. We then got the bus to the world famous Copacabana. It wasn’t what I expected. It looked like a bomb had been detonated.

It was only 8am and yet the place was packed with people drinking or sleeping on the streets. Worst yet, the whole place stunk of urine. We had heard that New Years Eve (or as we call it in Scotland, Hogmany) was huge in Rio. The following days a few people talked about how it was one ‘crossed off the bucket list’. We didn’t realise it was such a big thing. Apparently, just a few hours before we touched down, over 2.3 million people had been partying on the beach.

I wasn’t too disappointed. Being in a crowd with that number of people is not my idea of fun. Edinburgh has a big Hogmany party with around half a million people and for me the sheer volume of crowds ruined it. 30 minutes to cross the street followed by 2 hours to find a toilet is not my idea of fun!

Big Jesus’s

Rio is well known for its Cristo Redentor statue. It’s better known as Christ the Redeemer in English. Most famous pictures of Rio feature the statue in one shape or form. Completed in 1931, it is the 5th biggest statue of Jesus in he world.

A few months ago (mid October), we had seen Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba, Bolivia. That was finished in 1994. If the crown of the Christ the King statue in Poland isn’t counted, the statue of Jesus in Bolivia is the biggest in the world.

A 15 minute taxi ride took us to the top of the hill where Cristo de la Concordia in Cochabamba sat. There was no charge and, like every day in Cochabamba, the weather was beautiful. I’m not a religious person but I love sculptures so I was really impressed when I saw it at the top.

Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba, Bolivia

The view from the top was amazing. It can’t compete with Rio but it was still very impressive.

View at the top of Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabama, Bolivia

Unfortunately, our trip to Cristo Redentor in Rio was very disappointing. I had read that you should get up early to avoid the crowds. We were still tired from our overnight flight the day before so we didn’t go until about 11am. Big mistake. We got there and the queue for the train was unbelievably long.

Waiting All Day

After an hour or so of waiting in the queue, we were told that there wouldn’t be another train until 5pm, therefore we had to go and wait in another queue for 30-40 minutes to get a van up to the top. The van took about 30 minutes to get to the top. Guess what we were greeted with? You guessed it, another queue! Yawnnnnn. In total we had to wait another two hours to get to the top.

Waiting Again
Having fun….in another queue

Whilst we were waiting, the weather was fantastic. As approached the end of the queue, the weather started to get worst and we were told that visibility at the top wasn’t good. It wasn’t going to be our day.

Once we reached the top, I started to get very pissed off. We had paid $60 each, waited more than 4 hours in queues and when we got to the top, we couldn’t even see the statue. We were literally standing 5 feet from it and we couldn’t see it. It took 30 minutes for the mist to clear enough to get a picture.

Not only did this picture have a foggy Jesus, it also showed the double chin I had developed over the last few months of indulging myself travelling. Whenever someone asks to lie down on the ground and take a picture of you, just say no. The outcome is never flattering :)

Big Foggy Jesus
Big Foggy Jesus

As we had seen the statue of Jesus in Bolivia, I wasn’t too annoyed about the statue not being visible. I was more concerned about the view. Apparently, the view at the statue is the best in the city as you can see everywhere in Rio. The photo below is the best I could get.

Disappointing View from the Top
Disappointing View from the Top

All in all it was a wasted day. Buses, taxis, queues and $120 spent and we had nothing to show for it. It was a disappointing as it was one of the main things I wanted to see in Rio.

All Good in the End

It wasn’t worth us going up to see the statue again. We spent the following two days in our hotel due to the bad weather in Rio. The next day, the sunshine returned. We took advantage of this to go to the top of Pão de Açúcar, otherwise known as Sugarloaf Mountain.

We had to wait two hours in the blistering sun to get in the cable car to the mountain but it was worth it. The view was nothing short of fantastic (Yes, that’s Copacabana beach in the background).

At the Top of Pão de Açúcar
At the Top of Pão de Açúcar

We had wanted to stay in Rio for at least a month. We visited an apartment in the area of Flamengo one night. It was one of the cheapest available at around $1,250. The apartment was horrible. A stingy one bedroom apartment with a 20 year old television and cupboards that were falling apart. Neither of us liked it. I had hoped to stay for a month or so in Rio and do some Brazilian JuJitsu but it just wasn’t worth us spending so much to stay somewhere so horrible. so after 6 days in Rio, we set off to Sao Paulo.

Despite it raining for 3 days, I loved Rio. I’m sure I’ll be back one day. Who knows, I might even find time to say hello to Jesus properly next time :)


* Thanks to Butch, Stephanie and Jean Galea for encouraging me to write about my travels. It’s not something I had planned I’m happy to do a few travel stories from time to time.

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