Greg spent yesterday morning trying to organise a prepaid mobile SIM card. A couple of train trips, 5 different mobile phone shops and several conversations later, he discovered that it is absolutely not possible for a foreigner to obtain a prepaid SIM in Brazil. Unless something changes between now and the Olympics, there are going to be a lot of unhappy tourists here, unable to share their experiences on social media. Which may seem like a ‘first world problem’, or possibly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s how life is now for many people – instant, online, over-shared, over-exposed. Anyway, we’ll be interested to see what happens here during the Olympics.
Not a great day, weather-wise, but we decided to go to Corcovado and see the Christ the Redeemer statue. There’s no train station close by, although when we got there, we realised there are plenty of buses, but it’s always a bit trickier than trains, trying to find out where buses go to and from. There are loads of taxis around, but we decided to take a Uber car, partly as research for getting to the airport on Monday. While it worked out well for us getting to Corcovado Hill, we’ll probably just get an ordinary taxi on Monday. With Uber, it’s not possible to specify how many passengers, or how much luggage! Everything is done via a mobile phone app, and not having internet access outside the apartment – due to not being able to obtain a prepaid SIM – means that any changes to the Uber booking can’t be communicated to us. Anyway, it all worked out okay, although we realised that in addition to the Cosme Velho train station that we wanted to go to, there is a suburb by the same name further up the hill, which is where our Uber driver took us. He very bravely drove his lovely clean Fiat Siena up slippery steep cobbled streets, and dropped us off where we thought we wanted to be.
We walked back down the hill in the rain and found the station, then took the train (I think we would call it either a tram or a funicular) up to Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado Hill. It was misty and the hill was covered in cloud, it felt like we were floating above the cloud, and in a way it might even have been better that way. We were there to see that statue, and that’s what we saw … not the view from the top, or the beaches, or the rest of the city, just the incredible, imposing, magnificent statue. At one point on the way back down in the train, the rainforest cleared and so had the cloud, so we could see what was down the hill and to the coast at Ipanema. Stunning view over Lake Rodrigo de Freitas and the nearby racecourse to all the high-rise apartment buildings around Ipanema and Leblon beaches.
We got an ordinary taxi back to the apartment and that all went smoothly too.
This morning – Saturday – was fine, our first fine day since we got here. We took a train to Ipanema, then walked back via Copacabana. More on that later