Tag Archives: Copacabana

Llama Fetuses and Lake Titicaca

I was pretty exhausted yesterday after my long epic day mountain biking down the death road, so didn’t really do much except go out for dinner.  I took a different route back to my hotel and SUCCESS!  I found a better witches market than the street the hotel had advised me a few days ago.  Llama fetuses, poisons, and all kinds of interesting things to gawk at.

The plan for today was to head out to Lake Titicaca, so I packed all things again and was picked up at 07:45 by my bus transfer.  About 3/4 of the way to Lake Titicaca, you get to do a over-capacitated ferry crossing across the Straits of Tiquina for 2 bolivianos each way.  On both sides of the river, venders were selling fried trout, saltenas (Bolivian empanadas), flowers and what I believe were fried sardines.

About 45 minutes after the ferry crossing we finally caught our first glimpse of Lake Titicaca.  Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and located high in the Andes mountain range, also the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500 ft above sea level.

lake titicaca
First Glimpse of Lake Titicaca

I was staying in Copacabana, which I’m a little disappointed about as this was not originally my plan.  The original plan was after arriving to Copacabana, to take the 1:30 pm ferry to Isla Del Sol, hike across the island, stay the night in Yumani on the island and then return to Copacabana in the morning.  Unfortunately I had a very unhelpful “travel agent” in La Paz who refused to help me in calling any of the places on Isla del Sol and they are not bookable online, so I just settled for Copacabana.

I don’t know if it’s the altitude or if I’m just worn out because I’ve felt really tired the last two days and it was a push to make myself explore the Copacabana today when all I really wanted to do was cuddle up on my bed and sleep longer.

But, I strolled down along the water and looked at the tacky duck boats along the way, all the Bolivians having picnic lunches, kids riding bicycles and the poorly made docks.

After checking out the “beachfront” area of Copacabana, I decided to climb the highest point overlooking Copacabana, Cerro Calvario, which offered great views of the city as well as Isla del Sol.

From Cerro Calvario, I eyed the Cathedral so headed in that direction on my way down and landed in the middle of the city market as well :)

lake titicaca
Bolivian woman at Copacabana market

You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the Cathedral, but its exterior doors had some nice carved wooden reliefs and outside the priest was also doing car blessings… sprinkling holy water around the cars, as the owners followed with flower petals.

I stopped and had dinner (more trout! this time cooked with garlic) at a restaurant with a second story view of the lake as I waited for the sun to set.

Hindsight being 20/20, I don’t think one night in Titicaca is enough, as if I would have booked two nights, I could have explored and stayed one night on Isla del Sol.  But I’m content with seeing the highest navigable lake in the world and tomorrow I”ll be back in La Paz getting ready to head out to Colombia.

//The I.A.

Ipanama and Copacabana Beach

My last day in Rio was spent recovering from a crazy Copacabana Beach New Years Eve by having a leisurely beach day on Ipanama and Copacabana Beach.  Well, I was actually supposed to take a cooking class today, but that got cancelled due to it being a holiday :( …. so beach day it was.

As it was a holiday and practically EVERYTHING was closed (including gelato restaurants, what????), the beaches were jam-packed with families and tons of Brazilians enjoying their beach culture.

copacabana beach
Copacabana

Copacabana Beach also had several sand castles/sculptures along the main walk way…

After exploring Copacabana Beach, I walked to Ipanama, which in my opinion, is the nicer beach of the two.  Ipanama has palm trees, really cool boulders to climb at one end and the water had the most beautiful color against the sand and the boulders.

One thing I have come to appreciate in Brazil, is that it has a very come as you are mentality.  Whether fat or skinny, hairy, etc. the Brazilian’s will be walking around town in speedos and Brazilian bikinis, their faces full of smiles and without a care in the world.

Tomorrow headed even further south to Iguazu Falls for a few days where I will be border crossing into Argentina, my 48th country.  I’m pretty excited to see the place that Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Poor Niagara” when she saw it.

//The I.A.

Rio New Years Eve – A Copacabana Madhouse

Doing it big by being in Rio New Years Eve is no joke.

First off, as American citizens you have to go through the pain of getting a visa prior to your arrival which means either sending your visa to a Brazilian embassy for 2-4 weeks processing.

As I am constantly on the road, that wasn’t an option for me, so I had to roll the dice and book all my travel plans and then get my visa at the Brazilian embassy in Quito.  It all worked out, but after dropping a lot of money that was irredeemable, I was a little worried it wouldn’t go through.  But it did.  And here I was, in Rio New Years Eve.

Rio New Years eve
Ladies from Bahia serving food on the street

If you decide to come here to Rio New Years Eve you’ll also be dropping the dinero for a place to stay, initially, I was all like… YEAH BEACHFRONT… until I realized it as $900 a night for New Years.  I also only booked about 3 months ago, so that might have screwed me, but I even saw hostels priced in the $200 a night.  So do the math, indeed… Rio for New Years is stupid expensive.  I even tried Air BNB and it was World Cup Pricing and you had to stay a week.  Madness.  But alas, I found a hotel a book off the beach with everything I needed and it’s been fine and I don’t need to worry about transport or being mugged after New Years is over while over a million people try to leave the beach. eek.

rio new years eve
What a few million people looks like

But before I get into NYE here… I had a pretty laid back day.  I walked around the Copacabana area having some snacks like bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fritters) and ice-cold Brazilian beer on tap at Pavão Azul with the locals…

AND afternoon coffee break at Guerin, which is a French boulangerie (bakery)…

And maybe even some gelato.  ahem…

But this post is about Rio New Years Eve and not the delicious food I’ve been shoving in my face.

It’s been miserably hot here (for me) as it is the middle of the Brazilian summer, so I really haven’t baked myself like a lobster on the beaches, but I did walk by them today and found it funny that apparently beach ping-pong is serious business 😉

I also swung by the a liquor store and bought a half bottle of Champagne and then just chilled out in my room until it was time to walk Copacabana tonight.  The first thing I noticed, was that there were many ambulances and several huge first aid stations.  Nice job planning Rio!

Rio New Years Eve
First Aid Station

There were also a few food vendors around, but probably near not enough for the amount of people on the beach…

It’s a bit of a madhouse on Copacabana Rio New Years Eve, as there are between 1-2 MILLION people on the beach, three stages for music, and several people setting up their own tents and pagodas for all-night partying.  The music started I believe at 8… and goes until 3am.

I however, do not go until 3am, because I want to go running in the morning…

I went back to my room at about 11:15 to grab my champagne and hung out there until 11:40, and then walked back to the beach (luckily – 1 block) to watch the massive fireworks show…The fireworks show lasted for 20 minutes and was put off by 11 barges in the bay.

Oh yeah, in Rio New Years Eve, 99% of the people wear white as they believe that it brings good luck for the next year…

Rio New Years Eve
Wearing white on New Years Eve

But I just found out that you can wear red for romance, yellow for success, green for health and if you wear black or you will be doomed throughout the coming year.  What?  Whyyyyy wasn’t I wearing red?  Shoot.  Well at least luck will be on my side for the coming year, and we all know I need it 😉

Hope all of your New Years bring romance, luck, success & health.  Next year, apparently I need to wear plaid with all these colors.

rio new years eve

//The I.A.