After failing to scale Sugarloaf Mountain the day prior we set off with this as our only goal in mind. Confronted yet again with the tsunami of wrongness that is the morning-after Carnaval streets of Rio, we headed for the closest metro station.
Even though it was a different one from yesterday, this one was now closed and the previous one noe open. Go figure. So we walked the extra several hundred metres and hopped on.
The trip was uneventful, mostly full of people partying, about to party, or partied out.
We arrived at Botafogo Metro station and began the long walk to the cable car. Having skipped breakfast we stopped at some half-bakery, half-random fried crap eatery and grabbed some coxhinas and pasteis to much as we walked. This was definitely a case of hit and miss (see our Bakery Treats review) and while the coxhinas were excellent, the pasteis were far from good.
We also tried some pizza-bread-sandwich abomination. It was a resounding ‘meh’. Would eat again if desperate or drunk. Similar to my dating exploits in the past.
Having rolled even on breakfast we considered ourselves lucky enough and walked along the waterfront for most of the trip. It was pretty non-descript. The highlights being a phoenix statue out the front of a bank (Marta was unmoved), a bus driver sleeping in the baggage hold of his bus to avoid the sun, a totally bizarre piece of cardboard cutout for photo opportunities (it can’t be described, see the pic below), and a gorgeously quaint harbour full of lovely little boats.
Despite it being a public holiday there was no wait for the cable car and within about 2 minutes of buying our (rather expensive) tickets and posing the for obligatory value-added green-screen photo scam we were on our way up. This is the first of trips up the mountain but it does not disappoint. The views over Rio and Red Beach as you being your first ascent are gorgeous.
The trip itself takes only a couple of minutes before dropping you at the halfway point. We scouted around for a little while and took the scenic boardwalk through the mountain top forest. No monkeys but it was quite serene despite being very close to both cable car stations.
The hopped on the next cable car to the apex of Sugarloaf. We spotted some climbers making the ascent themselves, braver and definitely fitter, souls than us.
The top of the mountain contains a beautiful mural of colourful characters, a small interactive exhibit about the cable cars, old cable cars themselves (I would seriously think twice about having ridden in the first version), and a smattering of stores, bars, restaurants. All of them are pretty standard and if you’ve been to any tourist destination in your life, you’ve seen these places before.
The views though. It is simply gorgeous at the top of the mountain. 360 degree views of Rio. You can see it stretch almost its full 40 kilometre length along the coastline, see it sprawl up into the mountains like a river defying gravity, see all of its most famous beaches and landmarks, and marvel at the sheer volume of the city, the forest, and the ocean. The photos will do better than I can to explain this but it is breathtaking regardless of your preference – urban or nature.
Despite the cost it would be a damn shame to make it to Rio and not make this trip. It really is beautiful up there and even if you walk from the closest metro to the cable car you’re not looking at too much of a journey out of the way.
Next up… TO THE RED BEACH!