It is a very cool place - though parts of it look just like any other big city, the charm of the crystal blue beaches, walkways, trendy little cafes and bars make it something very Rio. Plus, Ipanema had been formed in my imagination from as far back as when I was a little girl listening to my grandfather's Sinatra cd's - Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema) being one of his favourite numbers, and as a result - mine too. The restaurant of the same name where the song was written, is slap bang in the middle of the neighbourhood.
We stayed in a cool hostel, mainly because the crowd of people we got to know were suprisingly on our wave length - and not just one or two, but most of them - also it helped we were all in similar stages of our lives while travelling... we went to a huge Rio football match on Sunday (possibly equivalent of the F.A. Cup Final) - the two teams (famous Brasil over) called Botafogo vs. Flamengo are neighbourhoods in Rio - and holy Moses are they passionate. We were a group of obvious gringo's herded into the Flamengo side by our football guide who pretty much told us there was no better team on the bus ride up to the stadium - which was packed 60,000 strong! Flamengo was clearly the more supported side and we donned the red and black team colours - some bought the t-shirts before the game, others (me) sported the red and black bandanas. Check Lee's blog for some awesome videos we took.
Rest of our time in Ipanema was cool - we had another amazing night in Lapa with the hostel crew, went out for delicous sushi at a seemingly trendy restaurant that had queues outside (always a good sign of food quality in my book) and high street shopping - I found a Mango store!
The beaches are unbelievably clean for a city, bright blue waters and white floury sand plus lovely coconut palms lining the pebble stoned side walks. Ipanema is also famous for its' Hippie Fair which is rather obviously named, but wow it had some amazing jewelry and artesanal crafts. I did manage to not explode the budget though. Helped that Lee had a leash on me.