The girl and boy not from Ipanema

I’ve made it quite clear on this blog that European beaches kinda stress me out. It was partly due to this – and the fact that I LOVE good beaches – that I was so looking forward to visiting the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.

Unfortunately, the weather gods were clearly not on our side on our first day in Rio. It rained ALL DAY, and not in that annoying Dutch way with which I’m now well acquainted. I’m quite used to that omnipresent wet air found in the Low Countries and the UK, but not so much the tropical downpour that greeted us in Rio.

So, we were met with this in Copacabana. DSC00036 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema So, naturally, we found caipirinhas and a private viewing area to stay warm and watch England vs Uruguay. So it wasn’t a complete loss.

DSC00035 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

Much better.

Even in the rain, we found that we quite liked Copacabana. Everything I’d read about it told me that it had seen better days and of late, it’s all about Ipanema. But I didn’t find it tacky at all; it was full of open-air bars, little kiosks on the sand and although the beach was empty, it looked clean and loved. We decided that we had to go back. Which we did. Twice.

But first, we had to check out Ipanema. It’s the glamour girl, and without a doubt is pretty much the most stunning city beach I’ve ever seen. (Sorry, Bondi.) All of the buildings opposite the beach aren’t too high, so the ‘Two Brothers Hill’ stands out proudly as the main landmark at the far western side. It was only about ten in the morning, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, which was hard to believe in a city of over six million.

rio ipanema beach 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

Ipanema almost to ourselves.

morning ipanema 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

Volleyball courts at the ready.

volleyball ipanema 1024x767 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

This was when we found out that our little pocket camera (I left my DSLR at home) was not good at action shots.

As Paul has a thing about ‘touching the water’ in just about every place we visit (this time it was ‘oh, but I haven’t touched the Atlantic from the western side!’), we then raced into the water, with me being scared by a wave almost immediately. Sometimes I’m really bad at being Australian.

DSC00169 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema
The water was cold without being icy, and we frolicked about for a while. Being fully clothed as we weren’t keen on lugging around wet towels and such all day, we couldn’t really do much else. It was probably a good thing, too; a big red sign saying ‘danger, do not swim’ made us not so keen to venture further.

We ended up getting distracted by the English and Dutch team buses going past, so we wandered then through the neigbourhood. It was like another world, with upscale boutiques, day spas and hipster cafes selling tiny plates of food for about as much as a month’s rent anywhere else in the city. We nonetheless indulged in the latter, eating a brownie that looked like a work of art. brownie ipanema 1024x764 The girl and boy not from Ipanema Eventually we hit the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, a large lake nearby usually referred to as simply ‘Lagoa’. I’d seen the lake on maps of Rio but had hardly heard anything about it, but it was a lovely surprise. We joined the cyclists and walkers part of the way around, before succumbing to the silly but fun paddle boats.

We hired one – a giant duck – and as my feet couldn’t touch the pedals Paul pedalled us around in the sunshine. Sometimes I love being short. ipanema lake 1024x755 The girl and boy not from Ipanema DSC00203 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema DSC00214 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema DSC00212 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema We liked Ipanema – hey, it was pretty easy to like – but we wanted to give Copacabana a second chance. That night we headed back for the FIFA Fan Fest, basically a big free party with bands, a big screen to watch the football, reasonably priced drinks and lots of sponsors’ stands.

We watched Brazil-Mexico at the Fan Fest in Porto Alegre which was a lot of fun, but Rio’s was in a slightly more iconic location. Yep, it was right on the beach. We joined a few thousand others from all around the world and watched Bosnia-Nigeria with the sand between our toes and the sound of waves crashing nearby.

All my photos are shocking (there’s also a fuzzy one of me looking like I’ve had way too many Brahmas) so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say it was a LOT OF FUN. I cannot wait to see what it will be like for the beach volleyball at the Olympics in 2016; it seems to me to be the perfect venue.

We still weren’t quite done with Copacabana, so on our last morning in town we snuck in one last visit. Being a Sunday, the boulevard alongside the beach was closed to traffic, meaning that the whole stretch was transformed into a parade of people. I could hardly think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning and not for the last time, found myself feeling just a tad bit jealous of those lucky enough to call Rio home. DSC00285 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema sunday copacabana 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema We joined the parade for a while before moving onto the sand. We didn’t quite know the routine here either but I didn’t freak out; a short little lady trotted up to us straight away and showed us her wares. We hired chairs from her, ordered drinks from another and enjoyed the free entertainment of people-watching. I could get used to this, I thought.

DSC00289 1024x768 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

The view from my chair.

European beaches may stress me out, but Rio’s don’t. Not in the slightest. They are drop-dead gorgeous, open for everyone and utterly relaxing. I’m already plotting my return.

copacabana bikini 768x1024 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

Just in case you forgot your bikini…

Each Sunday I’ve been connecting with some other travel blogs through #SundayTraveler. Click the below link for some other great stories through

SUNDAY TRAVELER BADGE GREEN1 The girl and boy not from Ipanema

19 Responses to The girl and boy not from Ipanema

  1. Emma July 13, 2014 at 1:23 PM #

    I am completely with you on the European beach thing… So annoying at times! 😀 I do love a good Cornish beach in the middle of winter, but a hot sunny packed European beach you can keep! What a fantastic place to visit, love your shots too – has given me a real insight of what it’s like there, and I am more interested in visiting it now! :)

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:05 PM #

      Oh yes, I was in Cornwall in April and even though it was still cool it had quite a sort of romance to it :)

  2. Diana - life in german July 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM #

    Stopping over via Sunday traveler.
    I’ve visited two beaches in Europe, in the Netherlands & Germany…never been to Brazil, I’m glad the beaches didn’t disappoint!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Diana – life in german recently posted..A London recapMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:07 PM #

      I have only been to a Dutch beach in the middle of winter but I’ve seen pics of how crowded they can be!

  3. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas July 13, 2014 at 5:58 PM #

    I was just reminded the other day how awesome Spanish beaches are on the weekdays…NO ONE near us and no traffic! You just may have to come down here and see for yourself.
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Big news: I bought a house in Spain!My Profile

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:21 PM #

      Another reason that I need to return to Spain…

  4. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey July 13, 2014 at 9:26 PM #

    I live in Europe and yes, the beaches stress me a little too. I’m still not used to taking the extra shoes and soft mat to sit on – and often forget one or the other! Big thanks for joining us for #SundayTraveler again.
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted..Outdoor adventure travel: Rafting on the Cetina River CroatiaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:21 PM #

      Yep, so much earlier preparation is needed!

  5. Magpie Groupie July 14, 2014 at 12:54 AM #

    Great shots despite the absence of your usual equipment!
    ‘Scared of a wave’ from the girl who has surfed the Australian waters??
    More scared of getting your clothes wet I think.

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM #

      Yes my shorts got wet then and I was cranky…

  6. Christa Thompson July 15, 2014 at 5:45 AM #

    I hate busy beaches! In Florida, in Europe, anywhere hahaha! I like my special secret hideaways… 😉

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:17 PM #

      These certainly aren’t secrets, but they weren’t too busy at all!

  7. Lauren July 16, 2014 at 2:40 AM #

    The beach looks lovely and it does look like the perfect site for beach volleyball! Glad you had a great time!
    Lauren recently posted..Vegan Food at Wildflower Cafe & Rooster Fish Brewery in Watkins Glen, NYMy Profile

  8. Adelina // Pack Me To July 17, 2014 at 8:51 PM #

    Oh it looks so lovely! Not the overcrowded images I have in my head of beaches. I generally don’t like beaches too much, but I think I would enjoy the beach here.

    • Caitlyn July 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM #

      It is definitely quite relaxing and not at all crowded like most city beaches.

  9. Sammi Wanderlustin' July 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM #

    How did you feel about the beach at San Sebastian? I thought it was totally beautiful :) if not SLIIIIGHTLY overcrowded when I visited.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted..Where Will Your Adventures Take You?My Profile

    • Caitlyn August 4, 2014 at 7:53 PM #

      I’ve been to San Sebastian about twenty times and I’ve only ever had one good beach day! I’ve never had good weather in San Seb, hence all the food consumed.


  1. Getting ready for the Rio Olympics - Olympic Wanderings - July 15, 2014

    […] first day in town was rainy and miserable, which completely took us by surprise. We put our beach plans on hold that day and decided to venture out to the Olympic stadiums instead, figuring out how to get there by public […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Web Analytics