Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another big Jesus

Stairway to heaven
After our interesting experience with a large Jesus Christ at Tierra Santa in Buenos Aires, we had to go and see the even bigger, and rather more famous,  Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio.

At around 38 metres high, and 28 metres across the outstretched arms, it is a huge statue that towers above the city from its perch on Corcovado mountain.  Clouds permitting, you can see the Christ from all around, looking down on you and supposedly protecting the cariocas (people from Rio).

Having seen that the forecast was for rain throughout our time here, we decided to visit the Christ statue on our first full day, when the rain was supposed to stop for a while.  After a false start waiting on the wrong street, we hopped on a bus to the little rack railway that takes you up Corcovado to the base of the statue.

The train up Corcovado was engineered by Francisco Pereira Passos and Joao Texeira Soares as a result of the enthusiasm of father and son emporers Pedro I and Pedro II, for the view from the top. The first section was completed in 1884. It now covers the full 3824 metres and takes twenty minutes at a speed of around fifteen kilometers per hour.

The Christ statue came along some time later, being inaugurated on 12 October 1931, having taken ten years to complete and been paid for by donations from parishioners. Hector da Silva oversaw the construction of the Carlos Oswald design.

The statue is made from reinforced concrete, but is entirely covered in small triangular pieces of soapstone, giving it a softer and slightly reflective effect. The head was the work of Paul Landowski, and sculptor Margarida Lopes modelled the hands on her own.
Sugarloaf Mountain
The statue has had many visitors over the years since then, but I guess the most fitting was probably Pope John Paul II in 1980, when he blessed the city of Rio from up here.

The statue does look impressive. And I was pleasantly surprised at the relatively small amount of stuff for sale there. There was some of course, as well as the official photographers - we discovered why they were there later - but generally it was fairly unspoiled by the usual hoards of souvenir sellers.

Copacabana beach
We spent a while admiring the views. The weather wasn't great, and made for a slightly misty effect, but the clouds stayed high enough that we could at least see the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Maracana Stadium, as well as the hills and favelas that make Rio what it is.

We took some photos, including a few of each other, and were about to leave when we decided that we really should get a photo of the two of us with the statue. So we asked a guy to take one, which he did, but he cut off Jesus' head. Undeterred, we asked a woman, who carefully angled herself to take two pictures - and cut off one of Jesus' hands in both of them.

Despairing slightly now, I found a guy from the USA, figuring that if I could speak to him in English, then I could explain that I wanted the whole of Christ in the photo. He obligingly took a couple and he did get the whole of the Christ in both - but there was a drop of rain on the lens and it obliterated my face entirely.
Us at the statue - or not!
Almost at the stage of giving in, we decided to have one more go, and asked an older guy who had seemed to be taking a lot of care over his own photos. He agreed, and spent a while moving around to get the right position for the photo. And he did indeed get in the whole of Jesus Christ. But....we aren't in the picture at all! Not even the tops of our heads. Now why on earth would we ask someone else to take a photo of the statue without us in it when we can quite easily do that for ourselves?

At that stage we decided that it wasn't meant to be, and it would almost be a shame to actually get a proper complete photo of the three of us, so we gave up. But now we could see why they had official photographers.

On the way back down on the train, we were treated to some extra entertainment as a band got on and performed.  This seems to be a regular occurrence, so perhaps they think people will be bored on the way down otherwise.

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