The second city on our 10-day Brazilian tour was Rio de Janeiro, again led by our good friends, Dave and David.
The four of us shared a spacious, modern apartment on Ipanema Beach for four days.
Rio is an exceptionally beautiful city on a grand scale.
Rio features miles and miles of wide, smooth, sandy beaches filled with beautiful people. There is a wonderful lack of body-shame in Brazil. People of ages can be seen on the beach wearing Speedos (men) and string bikinis (women). It was great to see the freedom.
On our first day in Ipanema, we saw a nicely built man walking nonchalantly down the street, a block off the beach, wearing nothing but shoes and a slinky Speedo bathing suit.
In what other city in the world can you see such a sight?
On Ipanema beach, they play a captivating and physically demanding form of two-person volleyball, incorporating the no-hands rule of soccer. Balls are served with a kick and the receiving team uses feet, chests or heads to bump, set and return. Some of the best players could even spike with a flying, spinning backwards kick, Pelé-style, where their spiking foot got as high as the net.
On our first day at Ipanema, after checking into our apartment in the late morning, we were eager to get to the beach. We had a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean from the living room of our apartment. We headed straight down after dropping off our luggage and changing into shorts.
It was just about noon as we took our first walk along Ipanema, heading north, in the direction of Copacabana Beach.
We learned two lessons very quickly.
The first lesson was that in Rio, because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun at mid-day shines down from the North — not from the South. So, as we walked northward, we were walking directly into the sun. Although this meteorological phenomenon seems obvious in hindsight (after visiting the Southern Hemisphere), it was news to us.
The second lesson we learned is that the sun at noon on a warm day at Rio is oppressively hot. We stopped for a round of cold Brazilian beer at one of the bars along the beachfront and sat under an umbrella, but still the heat was intense.
Eventually, we gave up and ducked into a cool, quiet restaurant down a side street, just off the beach, for lunch. They wisely kept the dark varnished wooden shutters in the front windows tightly sealed, which helped keep it cool inside.
There were plenty of people out on the beach, even at high noon, enjoying the surf and sunning themselves. But we are fairer, if that’s the right word. (That explains our adorable matching Tilley hats.) It was a great relief to get out of the sun.
Oh, but the beaches in Brazil are wonderful!
Early in the evening at Ipanema, the sun disappears behind the mountains, and the beach if anything is even more spectacular. Crowds of people are still out, the surf is crashing, and the light at that time of day is beautiful.
Sunset was a perfect time to walk in the surf along the water’s edge, enjoying the mild tropical evening air, the warm water and the majestic beauty of the mountains.
One evening, they were building a grand stage for a show on Ipanema Beach. The image of the men raising the scaffolding, silhouetted against the lavender sky, was very memorable.
Even after dark, Ipanema Beach remained a busy and enjoyable place, as we hope these photos illustrate.
Yes, the evenings at Ipanema Beach were great!
After dinner on our last evening at Ipanema, Dave Brinkley bought us a round of scotch whiskey at the beachfront bar near our apartment, after our customary round of beers. It was our first whiskey during ten days in Brazil.
We toasted our friendship and the beautiful people of Ipanema Beach.