It was a mad dash to get to the Pão do Açucar before sundown. I had just arrived at my hotel after a flight from the Iguazu Falls and a bus ride into town and spent a few minutes figuring out the route before I realised that to get there on time I had to leave right then.
The weather was perfect; clear and warm, with just a few wispy clouds. I couldn’t risk leaving it another day. After a brief Metro ride and a fast walk, hoping I was going in something resembling the right direction, the mountain appeared and soon after, so did the cable-car station. I bought my ticket (a grimacing 63 reais) and waited for the cable car.
As it turned out, I arrived in plenty of time to take in the views in the late-afternoon sun. I stood on the viewing platform, watching a helicopter take off and seeing Rio laid out before me. It was hard to believe I was actually there. I had been dreaming about Rio since I first planned my trip to South America and here I was, in the final month, standing on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, with views of the ocean, the city and, in the distance, Corcovado and the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
As the sun got lower in the sky, the air got chilly and I pulled out my jacket, thankful that I wasn’t wearing the mini-shorts and t-shirts that the Brazilians were now shivering in. Having overwhelmed my camera with photos, I bought a coffee and settled down on a bench to wait for sunset. I was joined by a South African man and a German lady – both with the same idea as me – and we chatted whilst other tourists ran past to pose in front of the view and then ran off again. The sunset was everything I’d hoped for; like watercolour paints, rich tones of yellow, orange and purple spread across the sky and as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, twinkling lights appeared all over the city.
No feeling compares to that of realising a dream and watching the sun go down from that particular dot on the map is a memory I will treasure forever.