A practice field in the heart of football country.
Copacabana is a 4 km (2.5 mile) long beach. In the early morning it is used for exercise before work and school. During the day and until well past dark it is used for football and volleyball as well as relaxation and sunbathing.
There is a six lane street along the beach, Avenida Atlântica. It has a broad meridian and wide walkways on each side. The walkways are paved with hand-placed stones. (Search for ‘Copacabana Rocks’ in the search box within this blog to see a photo of the pattern.) So with the traffic lanes, meridian, and walkways it is a very wide avenue.
Each morning at a set time the police lead a reversal of traffic direction on one side of the street so that all six lanes of traffic travel in the same direction. This is to help the inbound commute. In the evening this is reversed for the outbound commute. This is an efficient way to deal with traffic congestion.
But, on Sunday, they are even smarter. All six lanes are closed to vehicles. The Avenida Atlântica becomes a massive neighborhood block party. On a warm sunny day, people stroll slowly with their families. There is live music and food vendors. People take time to talk or sit in the shade on the curb and watch people go by. There are bikers, runners, and skaters also.
And still it gets better. The entire length of the avenue along Copacabana is filled with people. But if you continue around a rocky point at the west end of Copacabana you emerge onto an equally famous beach: Ipanema. The Avenida Vieira Souto is also closed to vehicles. This adds another 3.7 km (2.3 miles). The vendors and music vary in the different neighborhoods. You can spend all day walking on these closed avenues from one end of the beaches to the other and back. The avenues are bustling the entire way, and on sunny days, the beaches are packed also.
The Carioca of Rio de Janeiro love to be on their beaches. The photo above is from the west end of Copacabana looking east. Everywhere you look as you walk the beach there are soccer balls and volleyballs flying. Photo: 1/750 s at f/5.6