Destination Rio de Janeiro, the first travel to the former capital of Brazil.
First encounter with the much enchanted Copacabana Beach.
Day 2, 9.30 AM
We entered the Copacabana-Ipanema district. We drove past several shopping streets. With Shopping streets with numerous, attractive stores. Shopping streets with pavements covered by red carpets, waiting patiently for visitors. Our bus driver seemed to be lost, and requested one of us repeatedly to ask bystanders to correct route. Pedro was the chosen victim and he had to leave the bus five times to ask bystanders. It seemed as if the Cariocas did not know the correct route. It was already 10 AM when we approached the accommodation. The bus could not enter the street where the hotel was located, so we had to drag our luggage from the cargo compartment, and a like a flock of geese we followed our leader: Jader. Jader was also our leader in Salvador. We had to cross a busy street, and to overcome a little climb. The hotel was finally in sight. The building was painted in bright blue and yellow tones. A secure electronic gate opened, and we climbed the somewhat uneasy stairs to the lobby. It soon appeared that we had to share rooms with 4 or 6 people. I joined Igor, his companion, and two other friends. Our room had three bunk beds. The mattresses were not all the same, we therefore swapped some mattresses. I managed to occupy one of the lower beds. Hardly anyone chose the upper bunk bed; but the unfortunates who arrived later had no choice. The composition of the room was mixed, that is: boys and girls slept in one room, and shared shower rooms. We refreshed ourselves quickly, took a refreshing shower to wash away the sweat and dirt, which we obtained during our bus trip.
The hotel was within walking distance from the world famous Copacabana Beach. We crossed one street and walked down another street. We could smell the salty sea air at a distance. We walked in a shopping street with a variety of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. The larger – and probably more expensive – hotels were closer to the beach. Hotels with big and expensive names: Marriott (which I knew from my visit to San Diego), Othon, Copacabana Palace, Luxor, Praia Lido, Savoy, Canadá. The beach was in sight, we only had to cross the busy Avenida Atlântica. The crossing took some time; we had to be careful not to get hit by cyclists on the adjacent bike path. This cycle path has a length of 4 kilometers, on which a sportive tourist can tour with a rental bike. I am quite used to bike paths, so I automatically looked around once more, but an average Brazilian is not used to such cycle paths. Unfortunately for us, Brazilian bikes are not equipped with warning bells, as is common in The Netherlands. The cyclists often whistled, shouted, or yelled, and I had to miss the sweet and sometimes very shrill sound of a bell.
Burning hot sand..
Those who had survived the crossing of the cycle path received their ultimate reward that day: the arrival at the sands of Copacabana Beach. The fanatics did not hesitate, and kicked out of their flip flops. I preferred to keep my flip flops on, and with reason: less than ten seconds later, cries of surprise and pain sounded, when the bare-footed fanatics had put their first steps on the red-hot sand. For me it was amusing to see them dancing a new kind of samba, in order to avoid contact of their delicate feet with the hot sand as much as possible. Quickly they put on their flip flops again and walked on. The loose, almost white beach sand in fact forced us to plow through. Here the beach was pretty wide, about fifty meters. To my surprise it was absolutely quiet, and that on a hot summer day! No crowds of (foreign) tourists, but only a handful of crazy students from mountainous Minas Gerais.
Unlike the beaches that I had previously visited in the Northeast (Recife, Olinda, Vitória, Vila Velha, Salvador), there were not many plastic chairs and tables on the beach. The beachgoers had their towels or cangas on which they settled down. Just as I was used to see on a European beach. Nadia had taken her canga, and we gratefully made use of her offer to join her. It was now time to put on the sunburn cream. Previously I had put some on my face and arms, so they were not instantly burnt during the first intense sun contact in Rio. Now the rest of the body had to be covered with sunburn cream. Nadia was so kind to put the cream on the four white backs. Fortunately, her boyfriend Pedro made no problem that she was treating our backs. Rodrigo could not wait any longer, and ran into the rolling waves. Pedro and even Nadia took a refreshing dip. I limited myself to the wetting of my feet and lower legs, because the ocean water was cold! I was not the only one with the impression that the water was cold, because not much later, Rodrigo appeared from the waves, shivering violently. He needed some minutes to feel warm again and stop shivering. That concluded our very first encounter with the cold ocean water at Copacabana Beach...
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom © 2007, 2015