Today we went on an 8:30am train to see Cristo de Redentor.
We awoke at 6:45am and left the hotel at 7:30am to catch the subway to Largo do Machado and then the “integrated” bus (purchase the metro+bus ticket together for a cheaper cost) to Cosme Velho. Breakfast at our hostel did not start until 7:30am (plus JT was not feeling like eating) so we skipped breakfast and took a package of the fig-newton-like crackers to eat later. The entire journey from hostel to the train station took about 45 minutes.
Once at the Trem de Corcovado train station, there was no difference between the lines for people who bought tickets online and those who wanted to buy tickets on the spot – we all fed into a single line that was being serviced by about four agents. Katie had read online in other blogs and reviews that printing the voucher was necessary, which did indeed seem to be the case. However, the other required items (passport, credit card) were not requested. The ticket agent asked if we would like to go on the 8:30am train (even though our voucher was for 9am and no tickets were available on the 8:30am train the night before), and we said yes. We had originally wanted to be on the first train!
We got on the train at 8:20am. We were happy we did, as we got some of the last uphill-facing seats together. Those who entered later ended up having to sit apart from their group or on the downhill-facing side – which we figured would be uncomfortable. Our train ended up being completely full. Ends up, we picked the wrong side of the train though (the uphill-facing left side), and highly recommend sitting on the downhill-facing right side of the train when going up. This will make you sit in the sun, but will give much better views down the hillside!
Once at the top, no one was able to exit from the back of the second train since the walkway was under construction and did not currently extend that far. So we were the absolute last people to exit the trains. We walked up the stairs to the monument, but there are elevators and escalators that it seemed anyone could take (that is, they did not seem to be reserved for the elderly, mobility impaired, etc).
Once we got to the top, the views out across the city were amazing, although it was a bit hazy over Centro and Santa Theresa. Strangely, the views south (towards the beaches) were absolutely clear! Of course, people were pushing and/or laying on the ground to take shots of others with Christ in the background. Attractions like this can bring out the worst in people.
However, we noticed people in two types of service uniforms. Come to find out, the US Navy was holding a promotion and recommission ceremony for men and women working on the USS America (LHA-6) boat. It was cool to hear the admiral’s speech, and it had to be an iconic setting for those being promoted and recommissioned!
Unknown to us beforehand, there is actually a chapel in the base of Cristo de Redentor (that you enter from the backside). It was a small, yet very-Catholic chapel. They had a radio in a corner playing chorale music. JT recognized one of the songs being played as a song he sang in high school chorus and sat in the chapel to rest and enjoy the music.
We enjoyed the views of Maracana (soccer stadium), Central, Sugarloaf Mountain, views of the family Rio beaches, and planes approaching Santos Dumont Airport – who were actually flying lower than us. Then we headed back down around 10am. We were happy to have taken the first train up, as the monument certainly was very crowded when we left (and there were a lot of people waiting around the train station to take trains up). We stopped at a Bob’s Burgers near the bus stop by the train station as JT needed to use the bathroom (vomit and diarrhea) and Katie wanted a snack (fries and chicken sticks). Then we took the bus back to the Largo do Machado metro station, at which point JT decided Bob’s Burgers was the only thing semi-appetizing to him. He had a triple cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke – but Katie ended up eating about half of the fries. Then we took the metro back to Botafogo and went back to the hostel for JT to nap for a while. Whatever sickness he has is really taking the energy out of him!
While JT slept Katie blogged, researched his illness (including finding Galdino Campos Clinic, a highly-recommended English speaking clinic in Copacabana), and figured out a plan for what to do in the afternoon if JT felt up to it.
Later in the afternoon, JT convinced himself to get up so we could visit the beaches – and then head to the clinic if needed. We headed for Ipanema Beach around 3:45pm. We took the metro line 1 to its last stop, and then had a short walk south to the beach. Katie drank and then ate the inner fruit from a R$5 green coconut (these were just R$2 in Joao Pessoa, but we didn’t take advantage of them there and wanted to still get the experience). We had planned to go to the rocks at Aprodor to watch the sunset. But this time of the year, the sun set behind the buildings. Also, the rock was already packed with onlookers. So, we just stayed on Ipanema Beach. After sunset we wandered along the beach sidewalk over to Copacabana and eventually down to lifeguard stand 4. JT’s stomach continued to be upset, so we stopped at multiple bathrooms along the way. There is a pay bathroom in the base of each lifeguard stand. Katie tried a R$4 boiled corn from a street vendor, but did not like it since it seemed overcooked. There were lots of people selling items on the beach, but we decided to wait until we go ‘shopping’ tomorrow to to buy gifts and souvenirs. It should be cheaper anyway.
Once we got to lifeguard stand 4 we turned inland to go to the clinic. JT was still feeling terrible (low energy, drowsiness, bad headache, body/muscle/bone pains, itching, random aches, etc), so it was time to get him checked out. We went to Clinica Galdino Campos, where we agreed to pay R$400 just to be seen by the doctor. From the initial consultation, the doctor was concerned about JT’s condition. So, he was placed in a hospital-like patient room for blood tests (4 vials of blood) and to receive an IV. While the blood tests were being run for dengue fever and other sicknesses, JT got two bags of fluids, anti-fever (for his 38.8 degrees Celsius fever), and anti-nausea medicine via IV. We will know the initials results of the blood tests tonight. The facility felt a bit dated, and the lights would flash infrequently, but everything was clean, the doctor spoke decent English and seemed competent, and the male nurse spoke some English and seemed competent.
After the IV liquids, JT’s temperature was down to 37.2 degrees Celsius and he looked and felt a lot better. He gave a final urine sample and we got a list of items to get at the drug store as well as a list if items that would be good to eat. Then we went to pay and found the bill to be R$1,957.17 ($851.68). Hopefully JT’s insurance will reimburse at least some of this! (Update 11/2/2014: Still waiting for claim to be paid!)
We stopped by a drugstore and picked up most of the recommended prescriptions (including prescription-strength Tylenol). Then we found a supermarket that was still open in Copacabana around 9:45pm, and stopped to get the recommended food for JT: bread, soup, and bananas. Then we took the metro back to Botafogo and walked back to the hostel.
We cooked soup and toasted bread, and Katie ate some papaya. Then we showered and went to bed. Shortly after Katie got in bed, the doctor called with the blood test results. The dengue fever results were negative and nothing else stood out, so it is still a mystery as to why JT is feeling so poorly.
Trem de Corcovado
No empty seats left on the 8:30am Trem de Corcovado
A US Navy promotion ceremony at Cristo Redentor
A lizard on the rocks just below Cristo Redentor
At Cristo Redentor
View of Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo from the Corcovado
Katie enjoying a coconut at Ipanema Beach
People on the rocks at Aprodor