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Long Waits Inevitable at Today's Wonders of the World

01/17/2014 - 08h33



The Eiffel Tower, in Paris, and Pão de Açúcar, in Rio, have one important aspect in common: lines at both attractions in high season test the tourist's patience to the limit. There is always a wait, sometimes for as long as five hours.

Last week, the manager of the Pão de Açúcar cable car opened the ticket office half an hour early (from 7:30am), and increased the number of ticket booths from six to ten.

It was an attempt to reduce the long waiting times which have characterized recent weeks. Since New Year's Eve, the line has extended as far as Vermelha beach, by the cable car station.

At the Largo do Machado, departure point for the vans going from Tijuca National Park to the Christ the Redeemer statue, on Corcovado hill, tourists have also been waiting for as long as five hours in the worst cases. Usually though, the wait at both Pão de Açúcar and Corcovado is between an hour and three hours.

On Friday January 3 the Australian tourist Sylvia Rucker, 53, from Sydney, arrived at the Corcovado train station early afternoon with her husband and two children. She was told that the earliest departure she could make for Christ the Redeemer would not be until 8pm. As a result, she decided not to bother.

However, upon leaving the station, she was addressed by a representative of the cooperative Corcovado Car Service. The company charged her R$20 (USD $8.50) to take her half way there, to an area inside Tijuca National Park where she would be able to buy a second ticket for another van, taking her all the way to the statue for a further R$31.36 (USD $13.30).

However, there was a surprise to come. When the family got out of the first van to make the transfer, there was a line of more than 350 people waiting for the second one.

"I was shocked when I saw the line," she said, laughing. "The man that brought us here did not mention at any point that there would be another massive line." In the end, she had to wait for nearly three hours.

Sylvia admits that such long waits are common at major tourist attractions in her country, such as the Sydney Opera House. However, she cited the lack of information provided to the tourist as a feature unique to Brazil.

To escape the lines in Rio, the solution is to book in advance online. The Corcovado train, for example, operates according to a timetable, and tickets can be booked for specific departures.

Likewise, the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Colosseum in Rome, and the cable car at Pão de Açúcar all operate systems in which those buying tickets online are given priority and wait in separate lines.

"The boat to the Statue of Liberty leaves every 40 minutes. For those who don't book in advance online, it's normal to have to wait for up to three boats," says Marcia Freire, director of Selecta Travel, a New York tour operator.

Tickets for the Eiffel Tower are also sold online. However, in this case, it is the same line for everyone.

As for the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel overlooking the Thames in London, there is a special ticket, guaranteeing immediate access. Of course, you have to pay a little more for the privilege.

Inspired by the London Eye, a Ferris wheel with 16 closed cabins and a capacity for 128 people is being planned for Botafogo beach, in the south of Rio. If the city government gives the project the go ahead, lines appear to be a given.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Read the article in the original language

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
A view of the "Christ the Redeemer" statue atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro
A view of the "Christ the Redeemer" statue atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro

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