We spent the last day of the year at the beach near Paulo’s house in Itacoatiara. It is normally deserted, but this is a holiday week and so it is packed. We did get some reprieve at the neighborhood beach club.
We had the opportunity to stay in the city in Urca so that we could experience a Rio de Janeiro New Years at Copacabana beach. From the apartment we had a view of the Christ at Corcovado and the tram at Sugar Loaf.
It was just a 45 min walk to the party zone. Here on New Years eve millions of Cariocas or “inhabitants of Rio” all dressed in white gather on the beach to party, watch the fire works, and throw white flowers into the sea as an offering for good luck in the new year.
Arriving at the beach we made for the main stage, where there were live bands playing and hundreds of thousands partying. The crush of people was incredible. You can really only take this for 20 min and then we retreated to the street to watch the people!
Our friend Paulo has lived here most of his life and says that neither he nor anyone he know has been a victim of the sort of things we all see on CNN about RIO! We were a bit apprehensive to come here, but really this is just like any other large city. There are some dangerous areas for sure, but we felt safe day and night in most places. We did have a “real Rio experience” when on the beach about 25 cops were chasing and caught a kid who had grabbed a necklace from someone’s neck. Paulo says even he has never seen this.
You can buy beer from the vendors and then watch the most incredible fireworks display ever from the 10 synchronized barges. The barge in front of us actually caught fire.
Waking up late on a very hot sunny January 1 we took the cable car up the sugar loaf mountain for panoramic views of the city, Corcovado, and Copacabana.
From here there is a great view of Corcovado.
It was cool to see the planes from the domestic airport.
From the second viewpoint you can see the bridge, Niteroi, and where we are staying in Urca.
Finally you get an awesome view of Copacabana beach.