Winding our way through the hillside roadways of the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, we climb closer to our destination. Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) keeps its watchful eyes upon the city, standing atop Corcovado Mountain and consequentially atop most of Rio. Our friend forewarns us that the parking lot will be very full, as it is already the afternoon. He drops us off and pulls down the mountain to park on the side of the road, along with many other tourists and guides. At this first area, there are restrooms and concessions, and we sat down to refresh our sunscreen and hydrate before heading up to the statue. Here is where you buy your tickets to the attraction and catch the shuttle up to the top. As many people as possible stuff into the shuttle vans, and we learn quickly that these drivers are quite comfortable with the roadways. The path winds up the mountain, and these shuttles essentially fly to the top at a rapid rate. Once we arrive at the top of Corcovado, we turn to see Cristo Redentor in its full splendor. With the knowledge that this statue is highly visible from much of Rio, we know that it's quite large but nothing prepares you for the awe of seeing it so closely for the first time.
Cristo Redentor is an icon and a member of the 7 New Wonders of the World. It is one of the first things people think of when they hear Brazil. After countless movies, tv shows, and photos, seeing the statue in person is one of those times where we can't look away. Simply put, it's a surreal experience.
Similar to Ipanema Beach, Corcovado is a CROWDED place to be. There are people everywhere you look, and they all have their cameras out taking photos. Everywhere we step, we're hesitating in order to not ruin someone's photo op and wiggling our way through the crowd. Our friend uses this time to step away from the crowds to stand near the railing facing the east side of the city. This truly is one of the most spectacular views I've ever seen, and he is able to easily point out a lot of great sights to us. If you travel with your average tour guide, you'll get the touristy information, but if you travel with a local friend (or feel free to send us a note in our contact section - we have a GREAT tour guide recommendation), you'll learn about the REAL Rio.
After countless photos and endless wonderment, we begin our descent to our vehicle and back into the city. We drive around to a great vantage point, which you'll see below, in order to get in a few last photos and views of the city.
Christ the Redeemer: Will it be crowded? Yes. Will you have to wait for a shuttle? Probably. But, will you be glad you visited? Absolutely.
*Travel tip: Morning is the best time to visit if it's not raining. If it is, you most likely won't even get a good view of the statue. However, your photos will need a lot of retouching in the afternoon hours due to the sun setting behind the statue.