Lapa Steps, Cathedral San Sebastián and Sugarloaf Mountain - with Karl Pilkington!
24.01.2013 32 °C
After Santa Teresa we went to see the Lapa steps. An artist named Jorge Selaron began renovating the steps in 1990 using tiles. It cost him a lot of money to keep up so people from all around the world brought tiles for him to use on the steps. The tour guide said worldwide knowledge of the steps came about as the artist was featured on a BBC documentary in 1992 - well done Britain
Sadly, Selaron had died just 14 days before we visited, being found on the steps themselves. Here is a tile showing him on his art work:
Not only are there tiles depicting cities and countries across the world, there are also tiles of musicians, cartoon characters, artwork, animals, actors...it's modern, interesting, unique to anything I have seen before and kind of beautiful in a bold way! Andrew was less impressed by it, "If that was a bathroom, by square footage, that shouldn't have taken him 10 years"!!
The Simpsons and Speedy Gonzales (right at the bottom):
Michael Jackson, Guns & Roses, Iron Maiden and Bob Marley:
Ireland, Africa and India:
Here's a picture from the steps for my cousin and her family - the Archers!
And here is London, next to our very own Princess Diana:
Me and Andrew in the steps:
Next up was the Cathedral San Sebastián, an odd, dull looking building from the outside but inside were the most incredible stained glass windows.
Outside and in the reflection of the building:
Some stained glass close ups:
The size of the church from the inside was shocking too - 20,000 Catholics go to mass there and I can only imagine what that must be like to attend. I'm not religious, but it must be an impressive service to be part of. Andrew, now reminding me of a well travelled Mancunian named Karl Pilkington, only remarked "it's like most Catholic churches, new and ugly". But take it from me, it was imposing and stunning.
The final stop on the tour was Sugarloaf mountain, where the only way up is two cable car rides dangling almost 400 metres above the sea. This was the part I was least looking forward to, because I'm not the biggest fan of heights. Well, it's more a mixture of heights and safety really as I'm fine on planes, but I don't like 'the gods' in the theatre (something about tripping and falling down over the balcony!). I don't like stairs with holes in the back, but I can stand on a 700ft mountain and look out (i.e Christ the Redeemer) - as long as my feet have been firmly on ground!
Anyway, I was going to do it, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity after all - I may never visit Rio or even Brazil again. But I was scared; slight leg tremble, sick feeling in my stomach, and as I looked from the boarding point up to the first stop I didn't think I could do it.
But then a lovely couple called Gerry and Lisa from Dublin were standing in the queue with us and Lisa talked to me the whole way up, which really helped. I stood in the middle of the carriage and looked down, my face in my hat, but it was a smooth two minute journey to the first mountain top and I had a peak out to the awesome views. That wasn't bad at all. The second journey was 1 minute longer and equally, probably 50% more terrifying! The cable car was above only water and without buildings and mountains either side to shelter it a little, was more susceptible to the wind! I still managed to look up from the floor a few times so it can't been too bad. Having said that, stepping out on to the platform I was both relieved, to have my feet on the ground, and scared, seeing the drop below me through the gap and knowing I'd have to do it all over again on the way down!
The views from on top of Sugarloaf were dramatic and breathtaking. You could see out across Rio, with the beaches, mountains, forests, buildings of all kinds and of course Christ the Redeemer. Watching out over the city you could see birds flying at the same level as us, planes taking off and even turning down the side of Sugarloaf to land, helicopters doing tours, and huge ships delivering cargo to who knows where. It was well worth the ride up, even though the enormous drops made my legs shake a little!
Me and Andrew n Sugarloaf Mountain:
And the tour was over. I think that after today I'm going to need some new words from incredible, breathtaking, beautiful, amazing...entries on a comment please
Hot, tired but energised, we went out that evening, found Bar do Adao and had pastels - we had five savoury including prawn, crab, beef, cheese and vegetable and two sweet, chocolate and banana and chocolate and condensed cream - so tasty! We didn't take our camera that night so here is a link to what they look like: http://www.foodspotting.com/places/441059-bar-do-adão-rio-de-janeiro
We sat on chairs and at a table of sorts (a box) to eat them, with a couple of beers. We met a Brazilian man there, who helped us order from the portuguese menu, which has helped a lot since (I now know the words for cheese, chicken, beef, prawns and crab, which always helps when ordering food!). He was from São Paulo and his English was amazing - we talked for an hour about Brazil, England, allotments and vegetable patches on reinforced roofs, water irrigation systems - Andrew obviously led this conversation! With his ability to speak so easily in our language, we definitely felt embarrassed about our lack of a second language. After a long day, we headed back to the hostel.