Monday, August 15, 2016

Corcovado -- August 15, 2016

The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have been fun. I have especially enjoyed the music.  I found some text and images from The South American Tour by Annie Smith Peck, 1913.  Corcovado now supports the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer.  Margaret Cameron published The Involuntary Chaperon in 1909. 

Corcovado. Most delightful to many of all the days to be spent at Rio will be that which is devoted to the Ascent of Corcovado; nor should it long be postponed. The first clear day or afternoon should be improved, as at some seasons clouds are frequent. Even setting out with a cloudless sky, one may find the goal shrouded in mist, or spread out below a mantle of softest sheen concealing in part or whole the glorious prospect beneath. There is a choice of two routes to the summit: both I strongly recommend; every one should go twice; but with time so limited that a single trip may be made it is desirable to go one way and return the other. The Sylvestre route begins by electric car, starting every half hour from the Largo da Carioca back of the Avenida Hotel. The other, longer or shorter, according to the point of departure, is all by cogwheeled railway; but the base station is 35 or 40 minutes from the Avenida. One takes here or farther out a car marked Cosme Velho or Larangeiras to the pretty station among the Santa Theresa hills, passing on the way the familiar Estrangeiros and Largo Machado, there turning to the right on Larangeiras, a street as yet unfamiliar. Near the end of the line on the left is the station, return ticket 3 milreis, where one enters a car open at the sides with sufficiently comfortable seats if you face upwards. The track, one meter wide, about two miles long, crosses the valley of the Sylvestre stream on an iron viaduct of three arches, each 80 feet wide, supported on iron pillars with a masonry base, then enters a deep trench, later crossing two more bridges.

At the first station, Sylvestre, those board the train who have come by electrics to this point. The latter, after a few rods of steep grade from Carioca, wind along the side of San Antonio Hill in gradual ascent, then cross on the picturesque double arches of the old viaduct to the outlying hill of the Santa Thereza ridge. Swiftly speeds the car affording but fleeting glimpses of the busy streets and the houses below. Winding along the hillside, soon passing the International Hotel, with many level stretches and moderate inclines, the outlook above or below is enchanting. Any description must fall far short of the reality. The conjunction of a great city with picturesque scenery, pellucid bays, ragged cliffs, and tropical vegetation is unparalleled. One sits enthralled with the vision of loveliness. One's entire vocabulary of adjectives such as exquisite, entrancing, magnificent, sublime, crowd upon the mind. A short distance away towers the massive Sugar Loaf, its cliffs so steep and smooth that apparently even a fly would find no foothold, unless with a liberal supply of Spalding's glue upon his little toes. My cry was not "O for the wings of a dove!" but for the pen of my gifted friends, Aked or Gifford, to attempt the glowing description the scenes deserve. Here are trees with great bunches of yellow flowers, somewhat resembling wistaria, but with a very artificial look. Many trees bear large scarlet flowers. One below is covered with white blossoms. Pretty villas and gardens are passed, the dwellings, pink, blue, green, and terra cotta. In bright sunshine smoked glasses may seem desirable to eyes not especially strong. As we skirt the hillside in many curves, the city below is now on our right, the gleaming bay, and curving shore; the next moment the steep slopes or cliffs above; and now we move through a dense and quiet forest. A good carriage road is here by the side of the track. A happy couple is occasionally seen strolling on a sequestered path. In January it was too warm to enjoy a climb, but a leisurely descent would at any time be a pleasure. In winter, June, July, and August, the ascent would be equally agreeable, and the opportunity to pause and enjoy the charming vistas no one could fail to appreciate.

At Sylvestre, about 700 feet altitude, where the transfer is made to the cog-wheeled railway, there is a little hotel where a cup of tea may be enjoyed and a short walk taken, unless close connection is made. In this case you must run across the track to the booth where tickets are sold, buying for the round trip unless minded to walk down; an excellent idea, as the time allowed above is short. Descending on foot to Sylvestre a car may there be taken every half-hour. The hours of the train on the cog railway should be carefully investigated, as they are few, and vary with the season; on week days formerly 10 and 2, on Sundays nearly every hour but the last descending at 5. Now on the cog-wheeled road, the grade is at times so heavy that if riding backwards you must brace or hang on, lest you slip from the seat. The train is run by electricity with four cables and an engine. Six kinds of brakes may be relied upon in case of accident; they never occur on this line, but occasionally on the tramway. Thick woods and a tangle of vines now mostly shut out the distant prospect, but these are fascinating. Mosses, ferns, and lichens, forest palms, tendril-draped trees with every shade of green, orchids, begonias, and other blossoms, trickling waters, narrow forest paths, sudden glimpses of the shimmering bay, of dark tree-tops, of massive cliffs below, or of craggy peak above, make every moment a delight. At the station Paneiras, alt., 1500 feet, is the Hotel Corcovado, with restaurant service at all hours and comfortable rooms, a resort for convalescents and others. It has a temperature 15° or 18° lower than in the city and delightful shady walks. At a little distance a clearing affords a wonderful outlook. The track ends at the foot of a cliff whence a good path of rather steep grade leads to the summit 100 feet above, crowned by the usual pavilion. This stands quite 2200 feet above the surface of the bay. One hardly pauses here, but descending a few steps goes on to the very end, the brink of the perpendicular cliff on the south side, with a sheer drop of 1700 feet, well protected by a substantial wall with a seat for the feeble or the loiterer. And who would not loiter here, with this beautiful vision spread out beneath! A panorama of surpassing loveliness! Oh, read Miss Cameron's Involuntary Chaperone! and you may gain some small idea of the enchanting scenes. In afternoon light, in sunset glow, in the quiet evening with the twinkling lights below and the serene moon above, this is a paradise for lovers, a fairy land for all. The view from Tijuca more beautiful! Who at Corcovado can believe it? Not I! But so some have said. Therefore to Tijuca must one go if possible. The electric cars marked Tijuca, which run from Praca 15th of November along rua Assembles, to the suburb, may be taken for the excursion. The ride is through a very different section, by the Canal do Mangue, then through clean streets, lined by comfortable dwellings of the middle class, some more pretentious with pretty gardens, nearly all painted in delicate shades of gay colors. In the really suburban section are many fine villas, and after a gradual ascent among the hills one descends 6 miles from the Avenida, at a park, alt. 1000 ft., called Boa Vista, on one side of which is a hotel; also an establishment where saddle horses may be procured, perchance an automobile, for the continuance of the journey. These are rather expensive; a carriage for an hour costs 20 milreis, nearly $7.00, an auto of course more. Walks, however, may be taken to many pretty spots. A few steps from the Square is a charming outlook over city and bay. At the farther side of the Square begins the Tijuca forest, and following the road one soon reaches (perhaps ten minutes) a picturesque little cascade. This road may be pursued on foot or horseback in 3 or 4 hours to the top of the mountain; alt. 3300 feet, from which is the superior view above mentioned. Other pretty spots to be visited in a drive of two or three hours are the Orotto of Paul and Virginia, the Grand Cascade, the Chinese View, the Emperor's Table, the Excelsior, the Solidao, etc. The Furnas at a distance of two miles is a fantastic arrangement of rocks and boulders, where an interesting garden has been established. The road which passes the Vista Chineza and the Emperor's Table leads down to the Botanical Garden through the rua Dona Castorina. Best of all is to make a day of it by automobile from the city, ascending the peak on foot or horseback, visiting all the points of interest, and taking the glorious ride around by Gavea and the Botanical Gardens on the return.

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