Friday, April 18, 2008

Even though this was our day off, we couldn't sleep in, waking up around 7. We gave some thought to heading back up to Corcovado, hoping it would be clear today. At breakfast, however, we saw it was still cloudy up there, even though it was fairly nice down at the beach. So instead we just decided to walk down to Ipanema along the beach, and if it ever got really clear we could just hail a cab.


We slowly meandered down Copacabana beach, then made the right turn and started up Ipanema. In several places people had constructed complicated sandcastles, and you could take a picture so long as you were willing to 1) pay for it, or 2) zoom in from across the street. In Ipanema, as Vinny had pointed out the evening before, Ipanema's beachfront is much quieter, with almost no bars, restaurants, etc. Instead, it's all condos, apartments, and the like (apparently the wealthy don't want the riff-raff hanging around). But it's so close in proximity to Copacabana beach, it's as if Malibu beach started within a 2 minute walk of where Santa Monica beach ended - there's really no way to prevent people from intermixing.

We found Casa de Feijoada - we had walked right past it the other day, it was just hidden off to the side with a fairly nondescript sign. It wasn't lunch time yet, we were just trying to find it, so we kept walking, this time to Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema), the famous bar named after the famous song that was penned there. We were curious what the bar was called before the song was written, unless by extraordinary circumstance the song took the name of the bar. The prices for drinks was way better than elsewhere, and there was a ton of food that sounded good as well.


Unfortunately, it did not open until noon, and it had just passed 11. So we walked around some more in Ipanema, this time passing a large farmers market that had a ton of fruit (including some Mangosteen that we didn't try), flowers, meats, and other food stuffs. We had no means of opening the Mangosteens - they had a very hard outer shell - so we just kept walking. We went back to the beach and walked up to Leblon, which is essentially the same beach but for being separated by a narrow channel that people fish out of. The water in the channel goes to a lagoon that sits behind Ipanema beach, meaning that the beach is surrounded by water, with the ocean in front and the lagoon behind. The whole area is just a couple blocks deep, with the housing on the beachfront and all of the shops and restaurants the couple blocks behind.


It was getting very warm, so we decided to walk back to Garota de Ipanema. On the way back we stopped at a shop where Crystal got some sandals, and we got a big bottle of water. Back at Garota de Ipanema, it was open and now relatively full of patrons. We spent two hours there just soaking in the breeze and leisurely downing some drinks and appetizers - very nice. From there we walked just down the street to Casa de Feijoada. It was pretty full too, and we were seated at a table next to three Americans who were almost done. They kept trying to be done, except that the manager kept bringing out even more food.

This made us especially cautious when ordering, because we had already eaten some food at Garota de Ipanema. We ordered Feijoada for two, with nothing else. Even that, however, proved to be way too much food, and we quickly became stuffed. Crystal was too full to order coffee, even though she wanted it for the appearance. The other table had ordered coffee, and it came out in two circular glass flasks, with a burner beneath them. The burner heated up water in the bottom flask, which then heated up the coffee grounds in the top flask, and then the coffee settled back into the lower flask. We don't know if it tasted any good, but it looked cool. While waiting for the check we looked out the window at a magazine stand - which had been part of the reason we couldn't see the restaurant the other day. There, with all of the tabloids and skin magazines was The Origin of Species by Darwin and Neitzche. They were in Portuguese, however, so we took a pass.

We walked back to Copacabana beach and back to the hotel, this time on the sand. There were a lot more people out than in the morning. We did see some of the swimsuits Rio is famous for, or at least this time by people who looked good in them. Justin had promised his co-worker Tom that he would take some "quality" video footage with our new high-def video camera in Rio, but it seemed more than a little weird to pull out a video camera with 3/4 naked people walking up and down the beach. Instead, we simply digested back at the hotel, then went out for happy hour to the Copacabana Palace next door.

The prices were not nearly as good as Garota de Ipanema, and the crowd was a bunch of ugly Americans, not terribly surprising given the cost of the hotel compared to the dozens of others in the area. Our Caipirinhas were very stiff - Crystal's was actually clear (i.e. no discernable lime juice), so she had to sip it. We decided we should walk down to Garota de Copacabana, the sister restaurant of the original. Interestingly, the prices were not the same - this one cost about 10% more - even though they are only a 5-10 minute walk from one another. We stayed there for a couple hours, but it got very warm and for whatever reason the fans weren't on. So we walked down the beach one last time, then went up to the room to start packing. Justin was very tired, and fell asleep before 9, with Crystal falling asleep a little after 9.

So yes, most of our last day was spent drinking. Hey, we were on vacation.