Rio Carnival 2010 – Our Experience in the Streets of Rio de Janeiro
Before I get started let me just note that there are two ways Brazil is spelt – with the “Z” for English and with the “S” in Portuguese (Brasil). In addition, Carnival is spelt – CARNAVAL in Brasil. I will stick to the English spelling since hubpages uses English only. And the story begins.
Getting to Rio
We (that is my husband and I) set off at 4:30am on Saturday morning, 13th February, with a two and a half hour journey ahead of us. We opted to leave early with a friend who was on his way to a town further south from the city centre of Rio de Janeiro. Mind you we live in the State of Rio de Janeiro but Brazil is such a huge country that a trip like this is no simple drive. Okay so skipping ahead we arrived at our hotel around 8am and were able to check in immediately. That was great! Furthermore, to our delight, we realized that our hotel Windsor Guanabara was located on the corner of Av. Presidente Vargas and Rio Branco which was the main Carnival Street (Rua da Carnaval). Yippie! What luck!
Okay so moving on. We got settled in and unpacked and then went exploring in the area. We got to see the big floats that are customary of Rio Carnival, whilst they were parked on the streets being worked on. I took the opportunity to takes some pictures. We then walked around, bought cheap sunglasses and a carnival T-shirt.
Parade FloatsClick thumbnail to view full-size
So let me skip the boring parts and get to the meat of my story. Our Brazilian friends recommended we attend the “Blocos” parties and not go to the Sambadrome (Sambódromo in Portuguese) which is where the Carnival parade takes place.I am sure you’ve seen photos of hot women, beautiful costumes and thousands of masqueraders. Well let me tell you – that is only seen at the Sambadrome. Not on the streets of Rio. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the Sambadrome and stuck to the “blocos”. Here are some photos of the crowds on the streets for Rio Carnival. We almost got squashed in the crowd on the first day!
People on the streets of RioClick thumbnail to view full-size
As previously mentioned, the masqueraders on the streets aren’t like the ones you see published online on Brazil’s tourist websites and magazines. But I did manage to get a few cool photos. You will notice that these masqueraders are not skimpily clothed. We were expecting to see plenty of that but based on what I noticed and saw on television, it is usually just the queen of the band that has on a sexy costume and the rest of the band has costumes made up of plenty cloth!
Samba drummers – the most exciting part
I took many photos of the samba drummers. Most of the music played during Rio Carnival is samba. This is Brazilian music originating from Rio with a dance form ‘samba’ invented by the poor Afro-Brazilians. There are lots of samba schools in Brazil and these samba schools entertain the community through samba nights. The Samba parade is made up of these many schools. A theme is chosen and costumes and matching floats are made and music and lyrics are written to accompany their parade. I did a video with different samba drummers we saw on the streets of Rio. You will also get to see what happened in Copacabana - great music!
On Sunday we decided to go to a Blocos party at Ipanema. Even though there was a big crowd here and this bloco was supposed to be a really good one we did not enjoy it as much as everyone else. The problem is that there are so many people and the music ‘truck’ is not big enough to accommodate everyone hearing. Also it seems like there are just a lot of people walking around. I am used to Trinidad and Tobago carnival where there are lots of music trucks and songs from different artists and masqueraders all over the place, not online in one location. So you can walk around the main town and see lots of different bands. But it was nice visiting Ipanema. I got great shots of the beach and stuff which I will post in another hub. Sunday night we went back on the main Carnival Street outside our hotel and were delighted with the samba drummers. This was my favourite.
On Monday we took a taxi and made our way to Copacabana. This was by far the best. We had lunch in a restaurant with seating on the outside, facing the beach. There were thousands of people on the beach. You could not see a clear path to the seawater. Along the entire stretch of the beach area/boardwalk there were many activities taking place. We walked and walked and we stopped to listen to the guys playing their instruments along the way and to look at people dancing. It was great! We even did the ‘tourist’ thing and bought a lovely glass bowl looking thing in the street market. It was blown colourful glass that is really very pretty. That night once more we hit the streets for a last look at the samba drummers and masqueraders that were there. Next morning we checked out and left carnival behind.
Okay so there you go - that's what our Carnival experience was like. I tried not to do too much writing and put photos and the Rio Carnival 2010 video below. Hope you enjoyed it. I know the pictures are not very exciting. If we had gone to the Sambadrome it would definitely have been different but I am happy to share with you another side of Rio Carnival. You can read about one of the most popular beaches in Brazil - Copacabana!