Rio de Janerio, BRAZIL
20.03.2009 - 25.03.2009 32 °C
- Krystal typing -
Friday the 20th of February - Day 1 of Rio Carnival!
Not a brilliant start to the 2009 carnival for us as we spent the first half of the day on a bus.
By 1pm we were in a cab which had pulled up at the front of a very nice hotel, and we were greeted by a couple of bell boys wanting to take our backpacks. Sooooo this is how the other half travel! As much as we both like backpacking, what a place to spend our last week, especially during carnival!
Matt had prebooked a carnival accomodation package nearly 6 months ago. It was abit of a mission to find something that didn´t involve us staying in a 14 man dorm (which included 5 double beds so I´ll let you imagine what that would be like), but Matt managed to find this deal for practically the same price!
We checked in and soon bumped into Charlotte and Stev, we`d arranged to meet them at our hotel so we could go check out Christ the Redeeemer Statue - the gigant statue of Christ at sunset. A quick stop off in Copacabana to meet up with a few other people they`d met along the way and we were our way.
All 9 of us jumped into a few cabs and headed to the base of the mountain that the statue sits on. We all piled into the mini train that leads to the top of the mountain and were greeted with spectacular views of the city - very spectacular! Very nice first impression of Rio! The reason why the view was so good was the unique landscape of the city with it´s very varied shoreline. There were little bays, beaches, lakes and islands popping up everywhere, sections of land that were green and lush and then huge built up areas with massive highrise buildings. Would have to say it is my favourite city viewed from above! The Statue of Christ was also pretty cool!
Once back down the bottom of the mountain we jumped in some cabs and headed back to Cococabana to grab a feed and hopefully find a street party somewhere. We went to an awesome little place for dinner that was cheap and tasty and then headed to the Mud Bug bar for a few bevvies. After that we went on a little walk in search of a street party but were out of luck, to our suprise we couldn´t find one, which we thought was strange since it was day 1 of carnival. So back to the bar it was, before heading back to our palace!
Saturday the 21st of February - Day 2 of Carnival!
Woke up this morning, did the usual, showered, dressed and headed down for some breakie. Expect this time it wasn´t the usual, we´d stepped into breakfast heaven! Lets just say there was a slight bigger selection than bread and jam!
After stuffing overselves with mango we headed across the road to a conference room where Kumuka was holding a meeting for pickup of prebooked tickets Samabadrome - the main parade of carnival. All went smoothly and we were very relieved to have our tickets locked away in our hotel safe.
After that we headed out to our local beach, Flamengo beach, for some late morning baking and a swim. The cool thing about the beaches in Rio is that there are little green lush steep islands poking up in fron the horizon - very pretty.
After cooking both sides, front and back, we headed back to the hotel for a shower and then made our way to the metro to catch up with a few of the guys from last night. We´d arranged to catch a train out to macarena stadium together and buy some tickets at the ground, as it was much cheaper than doing an organised package.
Now as you can imagine, catching up with 8 other people without mobile phones can be some dramas! We´d organised to meet on the last carriage of the train headed for the stadium at a certain time at our tube station. And I must stay, with a few little hipcups we did quite well!
We got to the staduim, lined up for some tickets and headed in, it was huge, which I guess is to be expected since it´s the largest in South America. Playing was Flamengo (the area of Rio that the two of us are staying in) Vs Resende, the first semi final of Guanabara's Cup. So it was easy enough to decide who we were going for! As it turned out, Flamengo also happened to be red and black, it was meant to be for Matt!
We soon discovered we´d brought tickets to the wrong section of the ground, so we decided we´d try and sneak into the area where all the die hard fans were, which we did with a breeze - not much security at all. Now having liven in London and going to the footy there, I remember thinking how passionate the english were about the footy. Well..... the Brazilians were crazy!!! With all their chants, drums and actions, I nearly thought they were more interesting than the footy (shhh don´t tell Matt I said that)!
Final score ended up being 1-3, we got to witness Flamengo´s first lost of the season! We did get to see the crowds reaction to a goal, which was amazing, even more amazing to see another one quickly taken away from them (big deal... off side, pfft).
After the game Matt and I along with Steve and Charlotte decided to go suss out a blocko (street) party that was happening in Lapa. We´d learnt from the meeting that morning that about 5 or 6 happen each day, and had managed to get a sheet with all the details of each.
People were everywhere! There were bands with drums, people dancing, little trollley stores selling alcohol and people drinking. It was mayhem! After a few caipirinhas (beware! 39%), which is a cheap local cocktail that everyone seems to drink, we met up with the others, found a spot and stayed there for the next couple of hours, before Matt got really drunk and wanted to go home!
I can safely say one thing, Beware of the Caipirinhas! They are nothing but straight spirit with a little ice and some lime! I though think it was responsible of me to suggest we go home, don´t you????
Back to Krystal typing
Sunday the 22nd of February - Day 3 of Carnival!
After a wee bit of a sleep in, still feeling really tired, but unable to pass up the awesome breakie, we got up and ate. We headed out to the beach again for another baking session but soon discovered every man and his dog was doing the exact same thing, and it wasnt the relaxing with 80 million kids running past. We decided to head back to the hotel and hang out on the roof top beside the pool.
We planned to take it easy today, as tonight was Samabadrom night!!! Yay!!!
Now for those of you who don´t know, because I didn´t either, the main event of carnival is the parades that happen at the Samabadrom, which is an organised event, not just people dressing up and walking down any old street in Rio. A main street is blocked off with grandstands on one side and boothes on the other.
The main reason of the parade is for all different Samba schools compete aganist eachother to try and win that year´s title, and is pretty much the climax of the whole festival. All the best samba schools compete on the Sunday night, and we´d splurged on some sector 3 tickets for that night, being tonight!
We got to the Samabadrom early, saved some seats for Charlotte and Stev, and sat on the hard concrete for a couple of hours waiting for the parade to begin.
After some fireworks, the first of the 6 schools competing tonight began their parade, and wow, it was amazing! The colours, floats, luxurious costumes and size of each school were spectaular! Each school has around 5000 participant, and to have this many costumes with such detail was unbelieveable - and that´s just one school!
The schools are given an hour each on the runway to strat their stuff, but of course everyone goes over a little. We managed to make it through 4 of the 6 schools, but hung out for half of the 5th as they were reining champions from the year before - by this time it was 4am. We´d spent 7 hours watching the parade, plus another 2 waiting for it to begin, we were done!
As the 5th school´s parade was coming to an end, we decided to head out before there was a mass exit and grab a cab. We managed to make it back to our hotel and watch the rest of that school on tellie, before falling asleep and pumping out some Zs.
An amazing event, something we both will remember for a very long time I´m sure!
Monday the 23rd of February - Day 4 of Carnival!
This morning, again we couldnt say no the hotel breakie, so we stumbled out, ate, and headed straight back to our bed!
By 1pm we managed to make it out of our hotel and headed down to Ipanema Beach, where Stev and Charlotte were staying, which is one of Rio´s most famous beaches, second only to Copacabana. It was abit of a mission to get there since our tube stop was closed, but it turned out to be a blessing as we got to walk along Botafogo beach on the way which was quite nice.
We made it to their hostel, headed out to a bar for some caipirinhas, then caught up with the rest of the clan, before heading to the beach (more caipirinhas) to watch the sunset. And then making our way to a pizza place for yes, pizza and more caipirinhas!
Tuesday the 24th of February - Day 5, final day of Carnival!
Today we had a lazy day during the day, in prepartion for the last night of carnival!
Quick spill on carnival actually. It started as a pagan celebration in Rome, and made its way to Rio and is now known as "one of the greatest shows on earth"
Carnival always takes place on the 5 days in the lead up to Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of lent - the 40 day period of fasting. There is a catholic tradition of eating up all the eggs, milk and sugar before the beginning of lent, as they are forbidden foods during the fasting period.
It´s the same sort of idea for the Brazilians, however they do things alittle different. Instead of giving up sugar and eggs, they are meant to give up bodily pleasures. So instead of feasting on the yummy foods before Ash Wednesday, they have a 5 day celebration of flesh!
Anyway, back to what we did, which was not alot during the day. In the afternoon we met up with one of the girls we´d been hanging out with, and headed to a blocka party near our hotel in Flamengo.
We had a few drinks there and abit of a boogie to the drums before we got talking to a couple of locals. They were really nice guys, and we all decided we´d go to the next blocka party in Lapa together since this one was starting to die down.
We arrived at Lapa and was greeted by mayhem! It was bigger then the party a few nights back. There was another drum band playing that were starting to move away from the main area. We all decided we´d go follow them, so for the next hour or so we wandered through the streets behind the drums and were amazed at how big the blocka party had gotten, there were people everywhere for streets and streets!
After awhile we decided to make our way back to the main part of the party, holding own noses and dodging puddles of wee! The street party was great, they just need to remember to get some porta loos for next year tho! After a few more drinks we made our way back to our hotel and crashed.