The ever famous Copacabana Beach.
This trip to Rio de Janeiro was the first time Brian and I traveled together. He had already been here in Brazil for several months and I flew down to meet him. We had a whirlwind weekend in Rio before heading farther up the coast.
There were so many things to see, so many new things virtually assaulting our senses, it was a bit overwhelming. We had no idea what to expect, and only had rumors and a few snippets of movies to go on. We knew Rio was a dangerous place, so we stayed inside after dark and left our valuables at home. We spread what little cash we carried into different pockets and hiding places. We kept our eyes on our backs and looked out for each other.
It was an odd mix of insecurity, a bit of danger, and a fantastic sense of adventure. Our heightened sense of awareness made the city seem even more vibrant than usual. This is one of the things we’ve come to love about traveling. When we get in to a routine and become settled into a place it dulls our senses a bit. The newness and insecurity of a new place paints even the most mundane of things with a shiny new coat of paint. A nutella croissant on the beaches of Rio most definitely tastes better than a nutella croissant on your well worn living room couch back home.
Don’t get me wrong, I will NEVER turn down a nutella croissant.
Even the sky seemed different. We are northern hemisphere, cold weather people. Coming to this tropical city on the bottom side of the planet was a big adventure for us. It took me a few days to realize that my sense of direction was constantly off kilter because the sun was in the northern sky. Since it was July and mid-winter for Brazil, the sun was lower on the horizon so it was quite pronounced. I continually felt like I didn’t know which way I was facing, or what time it was.
My only knowledge of Copacabana Beach was from the song, so I was expecting a fun and casual place with lots of music, rhythm and dancing. I wasn’t half wrong. Our first impressions were of the beautiful sky and palm trees, the people wearing tiny bikinis (men and women), the famous wavy tiled sidewalks and mile upon mile of restaurants, kiosks and bars. This looked like a place we could enjoy!
Our hotel was right in the middle of the long beach and from the roof we could see the famous Christo Redentor statue behind us. Because I arrived at the airport mid-morning we decided to take the first day to relax and enjoy the beach and local restaurants. Touring and visiting the famous landmarks could wait a day.
It was a good choice. We took two long walks, had two good meals, and two good naps that day.
We kept a slow pace walking along the beachfront sidewalk. There are so many people and things to see, we didn’t want to miss anything.
The area is full of street performers, artists and vendors so there was no shortage of entertainment for us. The sand sculptures alone were a mighty impressive sight.
Copacabana was the perfect welcoming spot to start for our first visit to Rio de Janeiro. Its location made it a good jumping off point to see the rest of the city, and the big wide open beach with the sound of the waves was very soothing and relaxing for this pair of excited travelers. The hotel prices along the front are a bit on the high side, but if you find a place on a side street, or just one block back they are fairly reasonable. We splurged a bit since it was our first big trip, and also to celebrate our reunion after months apart.
Did you know? New year’s eve on Copacabana Beach is the biggest party in the world. Tradition dictates that everyone wear white, and at midnight you should jump seven waves in the ocean and make your wish. Have you done this? Did you get your wish?
On the map: Click here to see this location on our Google map.