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  • Dawnelle Salant

Copacabana and Ipanema - Beyond The Beaches

Even though we have been in Copacabana for 3 weeks, we still feel like doing the walking tour would be interesting, because, let’s face it, we mostly know the only beach, bars and restaurants! I’m surprised to learn that there are nearly 800,000 people living in Copacabana alone. That’s insane - there are only around a million people in Calgary, but it’s so spread out that it never feels that busy. When technology started getting better and they were able to make roads and blast through mountains to get to this part of the city, it quickly became one of the most desirable places to live. I wonder why……


When we cross over into Ipanema, we walk along the sidewalk near the beach. Street vendors line the walkway selling all kinds of exquisite handmade jewelry, souvenirs and trinkets. It pains me to walk by without stopping, but I know we will be back. Last time I was here I got the most beautiful woven necklace with blue beads that always starts a conversation. My favourite souvenir is always jewelry - something you can use, (ok, show off) and it's usually affordable and light enough to carry around with you.


We cross over into the city that borders the beach and stop in front of Garota de Ipanema. This is the bar/restaurant where the famous song, The Girl From Ipanema, was written. They would sit in the bar, which has open spaces in place of windows, and watch her go by every day on the way to the beach. It’s kind of a cool story - an actual girl was the inspiration for the song that became such a huge hit - and here she walked, and it’s even more interesting to me since seeing her at the Copacabana Palace at the Magic Ball. 


Afterwards, we walk on towards the lagoon and see a tiny bit of sun behind the thick rain clouds. I imagine on a clear day, the sunset here would be perfection. When I look across to my right, I spy Christ the Redeemer again. I don't know how he does it, but everywhere I go I find him somewhere different than I would expect. I think he's following me.....


We end the day at a Brazilian BBQ. These are my favourite restaurants here - you basically get to eat as much meat and sides as you want for one price - yes, usually a big price, but it’s so worth it. The way they cook their beef in Brazil, particularly the picanha cut, the most popular one here, is perfection. We sit down and the waiter explains that our red and green sided card tells the servers if we want meat or not. Red means stop - (I’m full) and green means bring it on.


They circulate constantly with different cuts of meat, fried cheese and sometimes even fish. The servers have the meat on a spit, usually, and you have a side plate with tongs. When they start cutting your section of meat, you grab it with the tongs and put it on your plate. Luckily the first time we were in Brazil we went to a place like this with a Portuguese speaker so we understood the process. The hardest thing here is deciding what to fill your belly with…..





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